Albert Pujols says he is not returning to Dominican Republic to retire

Toledo native Albert Pujols warned on Friday that he has no plans to end his successful career, as he was presented with his new team, the Leones del Escogido, with which he will play in the Dominican winter league.

Pujols, 41, said at the presentation ceremony that he promised to play in the Dominican Republic before retiring. “But don’t retire me!” he exclaimed jokingly.

“I have to retire because one person says so or when I want to. I don’t think my time has come,” commented the slugger, clarifying that he will continue in professional competitions as long as he is physically fit.

The legendary slugger, with two decades of Major League Baseball behind him, said he believes he will feel “like a kid,” because it was always a childhood dream to play in the Dominican championship. “I always wanted to play for the fans, who have always supported me,” he said.

Leones del Escogido officials said that the date for the debut of the future member of the U.S. Major League Baseball’s Cooperstown Hall of Fame is not yet defined.

Escogido announced the signing of Pujols on Thursday, in a deal in which they had to trade reliever Edward Paredes and outfielder Melky Mesa to the Gigantes del Cibao.

Asked about the trade, Pujols assured that he did not ask for the change of team. In his 21-season career in the majors, Pujols has registered 679 home runs, 672 doubles, 3,301 hits and an offensive line of .297/.375/.544, statistics that certify him among the best hitters of all time; and his first 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals are among the most productive for any player in a similar period.

The 41-year-old Santo Domingo-born starter and designated hitter played this year with the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers, accumulating a .236 average, 17 homers, 50 runs batted in and a .433 slugging percentage in 109 games.

His laureate career in the Major Leagues includes three Most Valuable Player awards, six Silver Bats, 10 All-Star Game selections, two Gold Gloves and two World Series rings, among other awards.

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