Since it’s pretty unlikely Angels owner Arte Moreno will fire himself, it’s a safe bet that one or both of Jerry DiPoto and Mike Scioscia will pay the price for a second consecutive season of pricey futility. On Saturday, CBS Sports.com’s Scott Miller reports that months before Moreno doubled down and brought in Josh Hamilton, 1B Albert Pujols nearly came to blows with since departed OF Torii Hunter, with Miller calling the former, “ the most expensive example of the organization-wide dysfunction that Moreno has both created and fueled with his temperamental and impulsive decisions.”
During a 12-3 blowout on August 17, 2012 in which Jered Weaver was hammered for nine earned runs in three innings, some players were unhappy when the emotional ace threw up his arms in disgust when one of the infielders dove for a ground ball and failed to make the play.
During a 10-8 implosion the next night in which starter C.J. Wilson was cuffed for seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, some players grew weary of Wilson’s chirping in the dugout – especially when he began giving advice to hitters. Hunter sharply told him to pipe down and the two had words in the dugout.
Immediately following that game, veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins called for a players’ only meeting. Pujols called out Weaver for showing up a teammate the night before. Then he turned his attention on Hunter, blaming him for the dugout altercation with Wilson. What Pujols did not know at the time was that Wilson and Hunter already had made amends, with the pitcher apologizing to the outfielder for overstepping his bounds in the dugout immediately following the game.
“Albert, you’d better get your facts straight,” a seething Hunter told Pujols.
Pujols said something back, and Hunter jumped him for being a bad teammate and pouting all season whenever he failed to get hits in a game, even in games the Angels won … and now he was going to call others out?
“Shut up, Torii,” Pujols snapped.
It was then that Hunter, from across the clubhouse, lost it and charged Pujols. Hawkins and outfielder Vernon Wells had to restrain him. The meeting proceeded from there, and when it was over, tempers still heated, Hunter had to be physically held back a second time from going after Pujols, who is described as wanting no part of the fight.
It’s eye-opening stuff. Who knew that Vernon Wells made a viable contribution to the 2012 Angels?