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Gold Glove among Pujols' primary goals

10/27/2006

ST. LOUIS -- Albert Pujols is a great player, and as such, his goals are also great.

"I want two more wins in the World Series and to continue improving my defense until I become a Gold Glove," the St. Louis Cardinals' first baseman told ESPNdeportes.com Wednesday at Busch Stadium.

"But first and foremost, I want to make two more wins this year in order to achieve the treasured ring."

Since he arrived in the majors in 2001, Pujols has not only become one of the game's best hitters but also one of the all-time best over a six-year span. He is the only ballplayer in history to hit .300 with 30 home runs, 100 runs and 100 RBI in his first six years. He also has a hitting title (.359 in 2003), a Rookie of the Year award and an MVP.

Even though he missed 18 games this season due to an injury, Pujols finished third in the NL in hitting (.331) and second to Philadelphia's Ryan Howard in home runs (49) and RBI (137).

However, the Dominican's pride rests in his progress playing first base.

"I'm learning the tricks of first base, and one of my goals is to improve myself in order to win the Gold Glove," Pujols said.

After being used at four different positions in his first three seasons -- first base, third base, left field and right field -- St. Louis decided to keep Pujols at first base in 2004.

In the process of becoming a regular first baseman, Pujols made 10 errors in his first season and 14 errors in his second season, but in 2006 he reduced the number to six. In addition, he ranked second among NL first basemen in fielding percentage (.996), second in assists (110), second in double plays (145) and first in range factor (10.55).

"I work hard every day in order to give confidence to my teammates so they know they can throw the ball in any way they like because I'll be able to catch it," Pujols said. "I think I'm improving in that aspect."

His offensive exploits, combined with his improving defense, put the 26-year-old Pujols in strong consideration as the game's top all-around player.

"I don't think I'm the most complete player. Remember, I don't steal bases," Pujols said. "But that doesn't mean I won't be able to."

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.