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Angels’ Pujols ready to swing into spring

- Associated Press - Monday, February 20, 2012

TEMPE, Ariz. — Decked out in Angels gear from head to toe, Albert Pujols looked like the same slugger whose swing in St. Louis became as symbolic as the Gateway Arch.

With a halo-topped "A" logo on his cap, Pujols, his massive chest and arms filling out every corner of his red shirt, sat behind a microphone and excitedly announced the start of a new stage of his career.

"Here I am," he said.

And here he goes.

Arriving just as the morning sun crept above the horizon, and more than a week earlier than required, Pujols reported to training camp Monday with the Los Angeles Angels, who will pay the three-time NL MVP $240 million over the next 10 years to be the face of their franchise - and to hopefully bring them several World Series titles.

"I'm just really excited to be here, it feels good to be outside," Pujols, 32, said. "I've been training for three months, hitting in a cage in St. Louis, and it feels good to be here for some spring baseball."

No major league manager had a more productive offseason than Mike Scioscia, whose entering his 13th season with the Angels. Owner Arte Moreno spent $320 million in signing Pujols, left-hander C.J. Wilson (five years, $77.5 million) and reliever LaTroy Hawkins (1 year, $3 million).

Also, Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales has been cleared to run outdoors, the next step in his recovery from a broken ankle that sidelined him last season. Scioscia has watched video of Morales and said he "looks great."

YANKEES: Outfielder Raul Ibanez and New York have agreed to a $1.1 million, one-year contract. Ibanez, 39, who played with Philadelphia the past three seasons, is expected to be the Yankees' primary designated hitter against right-handed starting pitchers. New York decided on him over Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, who also are free agents. ... Closer Mariano Rivera, 42, hinted 2012 could be his final year in the majors, saying he won't announce his plans until after the season. Rivera, the career saves leader with 603, is signed through this season.

ATHLETICS: Slugger Manny Ramirez reached a deal with Oakland on a minor league contract with Oakland. Ramirez still must take a physical and likely another drug test. The 12-time All-Star must serve a 50-game suspension for his second positive drug test before he can play for the Athletics. Barring rainouts, his first game could be May 30 - on his 40th birthday.

Ramirez ranks 14th on the career list with 555 home runs. This would be the 20th major league season for Ramirez, a career .312 hitter with 1,831 RBI.

RANGERS: Left-hander Neal Cotts agreed to a minor league contract with Texas. Cotts, 31, hasn't pitched professionally since having ligament-replacement surgery in July 2009. He is 10-12 record with a 4.63 ERA in 284 career major league games with the White Sox and Chicago Cubs.

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