Is Albert Pujols getting grooved pitches? How does Dick Monfort define success?

Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies Mailbag.

Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag.

Patrick, after years of declining numbers Albert Pujols seems to have found the fountain of youth. Call me suspicious but could it be because of his popularity that pitchers may be grooving a pitch to Albert now and then so that he can reach the 700 home run milestone?

— Bill Gibson, Littleton

OK, you’re suspicious.

Bill, my gut reaction to your question is to say there is no way that anyone is grooving pitches to Pujols. Except in rare cases, professional sports don’t work that way. The players are way too competitive and they would lose the respect of their teammates if they did that.

For my recent story about Rockies pitchers who served up homers to Pujols, I talked to Rockies left-hander Austin Gomber, who’s served up two homers to Pujols this season. There is no way that Gomber wanted to give up those homers. Arizona’s Madison Bumgarner has also given up two homers within the last month. There’s no way he wanted to help Pujols get to 700.

I reached out to Derrick Goold, the exceptional Cardinals beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, with your question. Here’s what he told me:

“First, check out some of the pitches. I can think of two that were hardly grooved. Heck, one was at his neck. That’s anecdotal, but you’re welcome to check the video.

“Second, if ‘fountain of youth’ is a euphemism for health and the right matchups then that’s what he’s found. His feet and legs are feeling better than they have in years, and that’s partly because he’s not playing every day. He’s not playing every day because the Cardinals, until recently, had him lined up against left-handed pitchers, just as the Dodgers did a year ago.

“This streak of homers started when the Cardinals had a run of games against left-handed starters, and Pujols found his rhythm there.

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