The Angels figured Albert Pujols would have the bat taken out of his hands this season by opponents looking to intentionally walk or pitch around the slugger, not by their own manager.

But with the first baseman mired in the worst slump of what many consider a Hall of Fame career, Mike Scioscia benched Pujols on Saturday night against the Blue Jays, the first time in 28 games he didn't write Pujols' name into the third spot.

Pujols, hitting .194 with no home runs and five runs batted in, did not participate in batting practice. In fact, Scioscia told him to not pick up a bat.

Scioscia had hoped to take advantage of the designated hitter spot to start Pujols in all 162 games this season, but with Pujols going from what General Manager Jerry Dipoto calls "the best hitter on the planet" to one of the least-productive hitters in the game in the first month of 2012, it was time for a mental break.