Pujols slowed by swollen lymph gland in groin
Angels slugger thrown out at second base in pivotal play against Royals
KANSAS CITY -- Angels first baseman Albert Pujols has a golf ball-sized swollen lymph gland in the vicinity of his right groin, an ailment that didn't necessarily bother him until what ended up being a crucial play to start Sunday's sixth inning.
Pujols led off with a liner to left that looked like an easy double, but Alex Gordon fired a strike to shortstop Alcides Escobar and Pujols was tagged out at second without even attempting to slide. Pujols grimaced as he walked back to the dugout.
Erick Aybar homered two batters later, but it ended up being only a game-tying solo shot and the Royals eventually captured a 5-4 walk-off win.
"I think it was one of those things that when I saw the ball, I got my mind set to slide," Pujols said. "When I saw the ball tailing to the right, I kind of shut it down and that's when I felt it. I'm not looking for an excuse. I should've run all the way through the bag. Obviously, they made a good play."
Lymph glands play a vital role in the body's ability to fight illnesses and can swell up due to exposure to viruses or bacteria. Common areas for swollen lymph glands -- or nodes -- occur in the neck, chin, armpits and groin, and they can go away over time with heat compression.
Pujols previously had a swollen lymph gland near his jaw, but he didn't know that he could get them on his lower half until he first experienced it on Wednesday. It doesn't bother him to hit, and until it tightened up on him on Sunday, it wasn't really bothering him on the basepaths, either.
"It didn't bother me yesterday because I went on that wild pitch to second base [in the third inning] and ran pretty well," Pujols said.
After being thrown out, Pujols went to the batting cage to take some swings and brought head athletic trainer Adam Nevala with him so the Angels would know he was fine to hit. He came to bat in the eighth, with the bases loaded and two outs in what was still a 4-4 game, and flew out to center against Kelvin Escobar.
Had he reached base, manager Mike Scioscia probably would've pinch-run for Pujols.
"It had nothing to do with hustle," Scioscia said of Pujols getting thrown out at second.
"I think time was on his side. I think he lost it at the end, when he saw the throw off line, and maybe he thought he was going to slide. I think he saw the throw off line and thought he had it, and they made a quick tag."
Pujols, who was checked on by Nevala postgame, doesn't expect the ailment to keep him out of the lineup.
"They're not concerned about it and I'm not, either," Pujols said. "It doesn't bother me to hit, and that was the first time it bothered me running, when I tried to stop. But I don't think it's something to be concerned about."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.