Pujols publicly addresses false reports
Expresses disappointment in media over Mitchell investigation
ST. LOUIS -- Albert Pujols is willing to forgive, but he clearly hasn't forgotten.
On Monday, Pujols made his first extensive public comments since his name was falsely reported to be contained within former Sen. George Mitchell's report on illegal performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. And he made them with the local FOX affiliate in St. Louis not in the room.
An erroneous report that started with WNBC in New York was picked up by a number of outlets on the morning the Mitchell Report came out. KTVI, FOX-2 in St. Louis, was one of the more aggressive outlets in reporting the story -- even sending reporters to Pujols' restaurant in St. Louis County.
As a result, when Pujols held his media availability on Monday afternoon at the annual Cardinals Care Winter Warm-Up, he insisted that KTVI not be permitted to record the session. He addressed a wide range of topics, from his recuperating right elbow to the direction of the Cardinals' franchise, before the reports came up.
When first asked, Pujols indicated he had no desire to rehash the situation.
"I don't want to go through that," he said. "Because if you want to hear how I feel, it's going to get real bad here. So we don't want to start that. And I think you should respect that."
In a follow-up question, Pujols was asked whether he planned to take any legal action in the wake of the reports. He said he did not, then started to express the depth of his displeasure with the story.
"It's a good thing that it happened so that the people out there in the United States and here in St. Louis, they can look at it and say 50 percent of the things that you guys write are not true," he said.
"I'm really disappointed about the media in St. Louis, whoever from Channel 2 or FOX that started that thing here in the city of St. Louis. I didn't appreciate that. If it was New York or somewhere else, I wouldn't care. But here in St. Louis? My people? It hurt. It hurt."
A WNBC representative in New York declined further comment on the matter. The station issued a correction, clarification and apology later in the afternoon of the day the report was released.
Pujols, however, had no reservations to comment further. He was particularly peeved with KTVI, which he felt was slow to make amends.
"Just like [you're] excited to write something negative about you, be that excited and apologize to everybody that day or that hour -- not two days later," he said. "That's not right, two days later. No matter what he says, I know I'm forgiving whoever did it, I forgive them. But there is nothing they can do to clean this up. They ruined that image."
KTVI acting news director Audrey Prywitch also declined comment.
Asked if he felt any need to prove himself all over again in light of the report, Pujols didn't hesitate.
"I don't have to prove myself," he said. "Since 2001, I've been proving myself with the numbers. I've been proving myself every year. How much better can I get? Only God knows how much better [I can] get. But do I need to cheat in this game to get better? This is nothing for me.
"Baseball is just a hobby, man. God has blessed me. And I fear God too much for me to do a stupid thing. I fear him. If I do some stupid things to help me out, to hit .400 or three-something or hit 30 home runs, he's going to take that away from me. So why not be the natural guy like I've been since I was in the Minor Leagues? To cheat in this game, that's not right."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.