ANAHEIM -- With Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday night, Albert Pujols tied Alex Rodriguez for the fourth-most postseason games by an active player with 75, even though the Angels' slugger hadn't made it back in three years and has an additional seven seasons remaining on his contract.
"To me," Pujols said, "the game is the same. I think the only thing you add is a little bit more media, more cameras. But besides that, it's just like the regular season. They don't change the baseballs, they don't change the distance of the base. Everything is the same. I hope the young players and the guys who haven't been in this situation don't put too much pressure on themselves. They don't need to change the game or their approach."
Pujols may no longer be in his prime, but he's the sage for October success within the Angels' clubhouse. And lately, he's been in his teammates' ears about how to best handle the intense pressure and scrutiny that comes with the postseason -- which is, to pretend it doesn't even exist.
Center fielder Mike Trout, easily the biggest star of his series, said he spoke to Pujols "about being myself; of not trying to hit a home run if you don't need it and just keeping the same swing that got you here."
"If they want advice, that's what I'm here for," Pujols said. "If I can help my teammates, we can be better."
Pujols, making his eighth trip to the postseason, entered the ALDS batting .330 with 18 homers and 52 RBIs in 74 postseason games. His 1.046 OPS in the playoffs ranks fifth in Major League history, trailing only Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Carlos Beltran and Lenny Dykstra among those who have played a minimum of 30 games.
Within that was his MVP performance in the 2004 National League Championship Series, his ninth-inning homer off Brad Lidge in Game 5 of the '05 NLCS and his three homers in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series.
"With the experience that I have, it's almost like you let the game come to you; don't go get it," Pujols said. "You don't try to force things."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.