Angels' Albert Pujols: Baseball First, Commercials Last
A lot of pro athletes strive to transform their talents into marketable brands, but not baseball star Albert Pujols.
He has little interest in cultivating a personal brand in the open market, and it's not just because he's guaranteed $240 million from the Los Angeles Angels.
"I have done some things in the past, but that is not my main focus," Pujols said. "I could do it if I wanted because there have been some big companies that have approached me to do stuff like that. I focus on playing the game, being a daddy to five kids and my beautiful wife.
"After that, if I have time, I take care of the rest."
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And as he's made more money in salary—$7 million in 2004 to $23 million in 2014—he's done less sponsorship.
In many ways, Pujols is in a situation he likes. He's a private person, and with $240 million guaranteed from the Angels, he doesn't have to do photo shoots and commercials.
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Plus, with teammates Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout receiving a lot of baseball-focused attention, there's a little breathing room for Pujols with the media.
"Last year, there were a lot of cameras following me everywhere," he said. "I felt like they weren't there because I needed to focus and do my work."
That kind of focus takes energy, and it helps the one thing he wants most: a World Series title.
"It's not about me. It's not about Trout or Josh," Pujols said. "It's about our organization and what we can do to accomplish our goal and our goal is to try and win a championship."
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Pujols wants the fans to like him, admitting that's a lot better than the opposite. But he's mentoring Trout, the reigning Rookie of the Year, on how to manage each day when the requests for his time are so constant.
"You need to make sure to know how to say no sometimes," Pujols said. "Everyone wants a piece of you, and you have to be careful that they don't get too much that that you lose focus on the game."
Because succeeding at the game is why everyone pays attention to the likes of Pujols and Trout in the first place.
—By CNBC's Brian Shactman; Follow him on Twitter: @bshactman