No St. Louis trip for Pujols next season

Angels unveil tentative 2016 schedule

No St. Louis trip for Pujols next season

ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols' return to St. Louis will have to wait, again.

The 2016 regular-season schedule was unveiled Tuesday, and once again Pujols' Angels will not be visiting St. Louis. The same thing happened in 2013, the last time the American League West played the National League Central in Interleague Play. Instead, the Cardinals will travel to Southern California next season, for a three-game weekday series May 10-12.

Tentative 2016 Angels schedule

So, unless the Angels and Cardinals meet in the World Series, the next chance the Angels have at playing in Busch Stadium is 2019.

Pujols laughed.

"I might be retired by then," he joked, since, you know, he's under contract until 2021.

"I don't really look at the schedule and think, 'Man, I can't wait to get back to St. Louis,'" Pujols added. "When that time comes, it's going to come and it's going to come at the right time. I live in St. Louis in the offseason, so I'm there pretty much half the winter."

Pujols was a god in St. Louis, while winning three NL Most Valuable Player Awards, going to nine All-Star Games and sporting at least a .300 batting average, 30 homers and 100 RBIs in the first 10 of his 11 seasons with the Cardinals (he batted .299 with 37 homers and 99 RBIs in his 11th).

After winning his second World Series title in 2011, Pujols took the bigger offer and joined the Angels by signing a 10-year, $240 million contract over the winter. But the Cardinals moved on just fine. They drafted standout starter Michael Wacha with the compensation pick awarded to them by Pujols' departure, won the NL Central in 2013 and '14 and currently sport the best record in the Major Leagues.

There would be love and admiration if Pujols ever steps back into the batter's box at Busch Stadium, not bitterness and hostility.

But Pujols doesn't want to say for sure.

"I don't know," he said. "I don't like to think too far ahead of myself. I can't tell you how people are going to react, whether they boo me, whether they clap. I can't control that. I know it's going to be loud. It's probably going to overwhelming. … It'll be weird, you know? I'll probably take my first at-bat and I'll be fine. The nerves will calm down."

A categorical look at the rest of the Angels' 2016 slate

Out of the gate: The Angels open their season on Tuesday, April 5, at home against manager Joe Maddon and the Cubs. They'll start with a two-game set, then host the Rangers for a four-game weekend series -- April 7-10 -- and hit the road for a 10-game, 11-day trip.

Against the Dodgers: They'll play four games, not six, against the rival Dodgers this season. And they'll all come in the middle of May. The Angels will play at Dodger Stadium May 16-17, and the Dodgers come to Angel Stadium May 18-19.

More Interleague: The Angels will travel to face the Brewers (May 2-4), Pirates (June 3-5) and Cubs (Aug. 9-10), while hosting the Cardinals (May 10-12) and Reds (Aug. 29-31). 

Logistics: The Angels have three three-city trips. They go Oakland-Minnesota-Chicago April 11-21, Boston-Tampa-Baltimore July 1-10 (right before the All-Star break) and Seattle-Chicago-Cleveland Aug. 5-14. Two of their 16 off-days will come in the middle of a road trip -- players hate those -- and they'll have one trip, in September, that pairs Arlington with Houston.

Down the stretch: In September, the Angels will play 25 of 29 games within their division. The season will end with a six-game homestand, against the A's and Astros from Sept. 26-Oct. 2. It'll mark the first time since 2011 that the Angels have finished their season at home.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.