Baseball notebook: Pujols easing into spring

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Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols hopes to begin agility drills and light running in a couple of days to test his surgically repaired right knee. Pujols underwent arthroscopic surgery on the knee in October, what he considered a minor cleanup procedure, but says he will ease into spring training with the hopes of being fully healthy for opening day. There’s no reason to rush things in mid-February with the season nearly two months away.


Pujols struggled early last season and hit .285 with 30 homers and 105 RBIs in his first season with the Angels after leaving the St. Louis Cardinals on a $240 million, 10-year deal.


Surgery for A’s closer: Oakland Athletics closer Grant Balfour had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus.


The A’s made the announcement that the right-hander is expected to miss four to six weeks, and that he had decided to have the procedure now with the hopes of returning for the start of the season. The injury is considered minor.


Mets payroll down to $83 million: New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon says the team’s trimmed-down $83 million payroll has more to do with patience than a spending freeze.


Wilpon watched the club’s first official workout Wednesday and said the Mets are in better financial shape than in the past.


The Mets had a relatively quiet offseason aside from locking up All-Star third baseman David Wright for another eight years and $138 million and bringing in pitcher Shaun Marcum on a one-year $4 million deal.


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