Pujols weighing Cards' commitment

Updated: February 15, 2009, 8:01 PM ET
Associated Press

Fresh from winning his second NL MVP award, Albert Pujols is eyeing the future. As in, will St. Louis still be the right fit for him?

The Cardinals star said the team's commitment to winning will dictate if he re-signs when his contract expires in two years.

"It's not about the money all the time," the first baseman said Sunday in Jupiter, Fla. "It's about being in a place to win and being in a position to win.

"If the Cardinals are willing to do that and put a team [on the field] every year like they have, I'm going to try to work everything out to stay in this town. But if they're not bringing championship-caliber play every year, then it's time for me to go somewhere else that I can win."

Pujols arrived in camp Sunday and spent time in the batting cage. He's signed to a seven-year, $100 million deal, and hit .357 with 37 home runs and 116 RBIs last season.

The Cardinals won the World Series in 2006, but have missed the playoffs the last two years. They were 86-76 last season, fourth in the NL Central. Their biggest offseason moves were trading for shortstop Khalil Greene and signing reliever Trever Miller.

Pujols had surgery on his right elbow to fix a nerve problem in November and is unsure how it will react to the everyday workload of spring training.

Manager Tony La Russa said the Cardinals will be "very careful in the progression with his drills and swinging and off-field work."

Pujols is uncertain if he will play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic because of the surgery and insurance issues. He was a member of the team in 2006.

"I've already done it once," he said. "I need to make sure everything goes the right way."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press