Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols has been cleared to hit off a tee as he continues his rehabilitation from November surgery to repair the plantar plate in his right foot, according to a Fox Sports report.
The reported news does not appear to accelerate the initial timetable of Pujols' return to baseball activities for late March, but the team is pleased with Pujols' progress, according to the report. Based on the initial timetable, the Angels expect Pujols to start the season on the disabled list.
Pujols, 36, gutted out 602 at-bats in 2015 while playing through the plantar fascia injury. The injury did not hamper Pujols' power, and he hit the 40-home run plateau for the first time since 2010 and knocked in 95 runs. He was relegated to the designated hitter slot for most of the final month of the season as the Angels rebounded into the playoff race.
A three-time National League MVP, Pujols has seen his production and playing time waver as he has struggled through several injuries in his four seasons with the Angels. He had knee surgery before the 2013 season, then a severe bout of plantar fasciitis that limited him to 99 games and 17 homers that season.
Pujols, who has 560 career home runs and a .312 career batting average, is entering the fifth year of the 10-year, $240 million contract he signed with the Angels before the 2012 season.