LOS ANGELES (AP) — Albert Pujols was Will Smith’s favorite player growing up. Pujols returned the favor by driving in Smith with his first home run as a Dodger.
“That was special,” Smith said. “I’ll remember being on base when he hit his first one as a Dodger and high-fiving when he touched home plate. I look at him as a teammate now, not really an idol.”
The three-time NL MVP and the fresh-faced catcher just three years into his major league career helped Los Angeles beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 on Thursday night.
Smith hit a tiebreaking, solo home run in the seventh inning after Pujols slugged a two-run shot in the second to give the Dodgers a four-game sweep, outscoring Arizona 19-6. They went 8-1 on the homestand, and have won four in a row and eight of nine.
Pujols joined the Dodgers from the Los Angeles Angels on a one-year deal Monday. He introduced himself to Smith, told the 26-year-old catcher not to be intimidated and to ask him anything.
“He told me he grew up watching me play. I was like, ’Please don’t, you make me older,'” Pujols said. “He’s pretty special. When he’s hitting in the cage, I keep my eye on him. He has a really special swing. He knows what he wants to do, he’s really mature.”
Smith has proven to be a quick study. He has sought out veteran teammates Mookie Betts and Justin Turner for advice. Now he can add Pujols to his retinue.
“It’s not every day you get to see one of the best hitters ever going through his cage routine,” Smith said. “It’s only going to make me and everyone else around here better.”
Smith sent the first pitch from Merrill Kelly (2-5) into the lower left-field seats leading off the seventh, giving the Dodgers a 3-2 lead. Smith sparkled on defense, too, throwing out pinch-runner Tim Locastro at second to end the…
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