Albert Pujols is preparing for his final postseason run with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he wouldn't be doing so had he decided to hang up the cleats midseason.
In an interview with MLB.com's John Denton, Pujols revealed that he came close to retiring in June amid struggles at the plate that saw him hit .173 in the months of May and June combined.
"No, I did. I swear I did," Pujols said when asked if he felt there were times he questioned his decision to return for a 22nd season. "There were some times when I [asked] myself that, many times."
Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told Denton he was aware that Pujols was considering retirement in June, adding that the club is "glad that he was able to marshal through it."
When asked why he ultimately decided to continue playing, Pujols told Denton that the team's staff influenced him to keep pushing forward:
“When you have good people around you and they are encouraging you and you realize that God has opened so many doors for you, man, it puts things back into perspective. I decided, ‘I’m going to stick with it!’ I knew sooner or later it was going to come and turn around for me, because it can’t be like it was all year long.”
Pujols went on to have a tremendous second half, slashing .319/.379/.678 with 20 home runs and 51 RBI in the months of July, August, September and October. His blazing second half saw him join the 700 career home run club with Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth.
The 42-year-old ended up finishing the regular season hitting .270/.345/.551 with 24 home runs and 68 RBI in 109 games.
Pujols announced before the 2022 campaign that this season would be his last. He told Denton that his goal is to go out a World Series champion.
If Pujols and the Cardinals don't win it all, he'll go out a two-time World Series champion, three-time MVP, 11-time All-Star and a batting title winner. He also has two Gold Gloves and six Silver Sluggers.
The Cardinals open their quest for their first World Series title since 2011 with the National League Wild Card Series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday afternoon at Busch Stadium.