If baseball superstar Albert Pujols wants to play for the Cubs next season, photos of his much publicized hug with general manager Jim Hendry this week could be a sign of things to come, body language experts say.
Pujols and Hendry shared an embrace and spoke briefly near home plate prior to Tuesday night’s Cubs-Cardinals game at Wrigley Field. Photos from the exchange -- of the hug, in particular -- launched conspiratorial minds racing. Did this prove that Pujols intends to sign with the Cubs after he becomes a free agent at season’s end?
Patti Wood, author of “Success Signals: Body Language in Business,” says the photos could offer some clues.
“(Pujols) feels comfortable with him. I can tell you that he would be happy connected with that particular person,” Wood said. “It’s not an act. It’s a real connection. He’s very comfortable and he’s very happy.”
Perry Myers, a 30-year investigator and body language analyst, said it looked like the two were making more than just small talk.
“Obviously from the picture where they’re standing with people in the background, it looks like Hendry is kind of in that business mode,” said Myers, president of MSI Detective Services in Chicago.
“Pujols is listening intently. It looks like there’s a serious side to that discussion. Probably not ‘How’s the wife and kids?’ ”
To be clear, baseball rules preclude executives from discussing prospective employment, or “tampering,” with a player currently under contract to another team. And, as Tribune baseball writer Phil Rogers reported Thursday, Pujols and Hendry have known each other for almost a decade.
Wood wouldn’t speculate on what more the exchange might mean without baseline knowledge of Pujols’ typical behavior, but she said Pujols’ expression is telling.
“He does have a pretty joyous smile on his face. There’s a lot of upward motion -- it’s the whole face. It’s the eyebrows, you see the crinkled eyes and you see the teeth showing. He feels very positively about this individual and/or the team that he represents.”
Laura Mackinson, a lifelong St. Louis resident, Cardinals fan and self-professed longtime hugger, saw the photos in St. Louis news media. She has a much simpler explanation.
“Um, that they’re friends?” she said. “I don’t know Pujols personally, but he’s a got a reputation as a friendly guy, a very Christian fellow, loving and everything. To me, he was just saying hi to someone he knew.”
Twitter: @RobMankerCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun