Los Angeles Angels star Albert Pujols‘ status for Opening Day in 2017 could be up in the air after undergoing surgery on his right foot.

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Latest on Pujols’ Timeline to Return

Friday, Dec. 2

The Angels issued a statement announcing Pujols underwent surgery on his right plantar fascia, and the normal estimated recovery time is four months.

This is yet another physical setback for Pujols, who underwent foot surgery in the offseason, which jeopardized his status for the start of the 2016 campaign. He also had arthroscopic knee surgery in 2012 and suffered through plantar fasciitis in 2013.

Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register noted before the 2016 season that Pujols seemed “more open to DHing now,” given his injury history.

Pujols played a career-high 123 games at designated hitter in 2016 because of his foot problems and declining skills in the field. He did hit 31 home runs, but his .323 on-base percentage was the second-lowest mark of his career. 

When healthy, Pujols has been one of the best players in baseball over the course of the last 15 years, and the 10-time All-Star, six-time Silver Slugger, three-time National League MVP and two-time Gold Glove winner gives the Angels power in their lineup alongside Mike Trout. 

Despite that sterling resume, Pujols hasn’t been the same dominant force for the Angels as he was with the St. Louis Cardinals during his prime:

Injuries and age have been factors in the decline in production, and it’s unlikely he will ever return to being anything close to what he was at his peak or even when he had an .859 OPS in his first season with the Angels.

The Angels can use a combination of Jefry Marte and C.J. Cron at first base or designated hitter if Pujols is unable to be back before the season starts in April. 

While the Angels at least have some pieces to help them remain afloat without Pujols, they are a more dangerous offense when he is in the lineup and producing behind Trout.

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