Albert Pujols shared a brief greeting with Chicago general manager Jim Hendry around the batting cage at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night, embracing and conversing before the series opener between the Cubs and Cardinals. Hendry, who figures to be a key suitor should Pujols become a free agent, spoke briefly to reporters about the encounter.
"Well, he hugged me first?" Hendry told reporters when asked about the greeting. "He's a lot bigger and stronger than me."
Pujols, who had four hits in the Cardinals' 6-4 victory, could have his first shot at free agency after this season. The three-time National League Most Valuable Player Award winner is poised to be the hottest player on the open market, and while Hendry would likely love a shot at adding Pujols, he said that Tuesday's conversation was anything but business.
"'I'm not going to treat Albert any different, and the same with him," Hendry said. "We don't talk about what's going to happen. It's 'How's your son?' 'How's your kids?' I'm just a little different. I've always gotten along with players."
Pujols shared the same sentiment, according to comments he made to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after Tuesday's game.
"I do that all the time," said Pujols. "I figured that would happen, that they would play with it. At the end, it's not what you do on the field. It's what kind of person you are off the field. That's the kind of relationship you want to build with somebody you respect. He's on the other side. I'm on our side. I just think it's kind of ridiculous. Three writers came and talked to me about that and the contract.
"Are you serious? C'mon."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.