LEADING OFF: Dodgers star Pujols back at Busch Stadium

Sep 5, 2021, 5:42 AM | Updated: 6:06 pm

A look at what’s happening around the majors on Monday:

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Albert Pujols is sure to get a big ovation at Busch Stadium when the Los Angeles Dodgers slugger returns to face the Cardinals.

The 41-year-old Pujols called St. Louis home for his first 11 major league seasons from 2001-2011 and helped the Cards win two World Series championships.

Pujols insists he’ll try to focus on the series between the playoff contenders that begins Monday, rather than the fanfare.

Still, the trip is plenty meaningful, even if he went back to Busch in 2019 with the Angels. By not placing added expectations on himself, Pujols said it’s a way to avoid disappointment “if it doesn’t go the way that you thought.”

“It was special in 2019 when I first went there and it’s going to be special when we go there tomorrow for the week,” Pujols said Sunday. “I always try to let those things play out the way they’re going to play out. I just don’t like to bring distraction on myself. I just try to prepare myself for the game and the things that I have to do.”

Pujols will play Tuesday and Thursday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

“Certainly, he’s impacted us on the field with what he’s done, but I think I’ll argue more importantly he has mentored everyone — and that’s myself, coaches, veterans, young players and everyone’s gravitated toward him. It’s just refreshing to see a future first ballot Hall of Famer with such humility and willingness to help his teammates.”

“He is everything that’s good about Major League Baseball and professional athletes,” Roberts said.

SAILING ALONG

Boston ace Chris Sale (3-0, 2.53 ERA) makes his fifth start since recovering from Tommy John surgery when the coronavirus-impacted Red Sox open a three-game series against the AL East-leading Rays at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox begin the day a half-game behind the Yankees for the AL’s top wild-card spot.

Boston currently has 11 players, including five pitchers, on the COVID-19-related injured list. They added two more on Sunday when scheduled starter Nick Pivetta was scratched and infielder/outfielder Danny Santana also went on the list.

HOMER HAPPY

Franmil Reyes and the Indians can set a franchise record if they can connect at home against Minnesota.

Cleveland matched a team mark by homering in its 19th straight game Sunday. Reyes kept the string going by homering over the Green Monster in Boston — that tied the club record set in 2000 when Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez led the way.

Twins right-hander Bailey Ober (2-2, 3.98) is set to face the Indians at Progressive Field.

SECONDS, PLEASE

Texas rookie A.J. Alexy tries to follow up on his impressive debut when he starts on the road against the Angels.

The 23-year-old righty won his first game in the majors, shutting out Colorado on one hit over five innings last week. He struck out four and walked three.

Alexy was acquired by the Rangers in July 2017 in the trade that sent pitcher Yu Darvish to the Dodgers.

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LEADING OFF: Dodgers star Pujols back at Busch Stadium