JUPITER, FL – Torn between his team, his heritage, and his insurance provider, Albert Pujols won’t be playing in the Cardinals’ exibition against the Dominican Republic team tonight. “It’s all about respect. I don’t want to play against them. I don’t feel comfortable with it,” he told reporters this week.
Pujols, who is now a US citizen, played for the Dominican team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, but due to elbow problems he couldn’t acquire the necessary insurance coverage to compete this year.
In any case, he insisted that his absence from tonight’s game isn’t just a snit, and that he would have sat out even if he had been sitting in the other dugout. “It would have been the same for either side,” he said. “To me, that would have been disrespectful toward the Cardinals.” Word that the two teams had been discussing having Pujols bat for both sides has been deemed too cool an idea to be true.
Meanwhile, Derek Jeter had no such qualms, going 2-for-5 with a walk to lead the USA squad to a 6-5 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday. “It’s a good feeling,” Jeter said afterward. If Pujols had had to deal with Steinbrenner for a decade and a half, he might have worked harder on getting that insurance…