JUPITER, Fla. -- Albert Pujols is in the house, in uniform and in terrific spirits.
No contract? No problem.
"You can't be emotional about it," Pujols said early Thursday morning, shortly after his arrival here, one day after his self-imposed deadline for negotiations with the Cardinals passed after talks reached a stalemate. "It's part of the negotiations.
"I have so much respect for this organization. They gave me the opportunity to play 11 years ago. No matter what went down yesterday because of the deadline doesn't mean I'm not going to be a Cardinal."
In fact, that was a theme to which Pujols kept returning: His respect and love for the organization, and his desire to remain in St. Louis.
"I want to be a Cardinal forever," he said. "That's my goal."
Pujols re-iterated that he will not re-open talks during the season, and he said the union has not been pressuring him to hold out for a record-setting contract.
Still, given the parameters right now, it is exceedingly difficult to not see Pujols testing the free agent market next winter. That doesn't mean he won't re-sign with the Cardinals, but it will allow other clubs to take their shots at him.
"When comes to that point, I'm gonna think about that," Pujols said. "But right now it's such a long time before free agency. Maybe I don’t' stay a free agent. That's the way it goes.
"I been part of this organization for 11 years. My goal is, hopefully, to be a part of it the rest of my career. They're my family. I have a family that's my kids and my wife, and this is my second family."
Pujols refused to get into the specifics of the negotiations to day, deflecting a question pertaining to a report that the star had asked for a piece of club ownership as part of the deal. He did say that most of the numbers he's read in various reports -- dollars and length of contract -- have been wrong.
He said that whenever his next contract move does come, he will not be staging a LeBron James-style announcement on national television.
"I have too much respect for this organization and the fans," he said. "I can't think about what's gonna happen seven or eight months from now. I've got too much respect for this organization and for the city of St. Louis.
"The way that city has embraced me and my family, there's no other place that's gonna do that."
And if his thoughts Thursday turn into action this summer, that embrace may grow tighter and cause even more consternation before this wild ride into Pujols' future is finished.
"I more locked in this year than ever," he said. "I'm in great shape. I feel better, stronger, than the last three years because I was able to work out with no hurt. I've had a full [winter] of working out.
"The last couple of years, because of my surgery, I missed almost a month-and-a-half. I'm ready to go, man. I'm really excited. We have a great ballclub."