Mariners 9, Angels 8 …
Plenty of story lines in the Angels’ fourth Cactus League game of the spring. Mike Trout debuted, Kendrys Morales faced his former team and Chad Cordero made his first appearance in a professional game since 2011.
That put Garrett Richards, making his spring debut, way in the background.
Richards worked two innings, giving up an unearned run on two hits while walking none and striking out one. The 24-year-old right-hander has been working with pitching coach Mike Butcher on keeping his posture straight as he drives towards home plate. Richards believes that has given him more control over his fastball, which will ultimately help him get ahead of hitters.
“Last year, I felt like I was a little bit herky jerky,” Richards said. “Now, I just feel like I’m free and easy. I’m throwing the ball about 80 percent and I don’t feel like I’m losing any velocity or any sharpness on my ball. I feel really good right now.”
Here are some quick hits on the Mariners’ (3-1) walk-off victory over the Angels (0-4), a game that saw each team notch 14 hits.
Trout, leading off and playing left field, singled on a chopper in his first 2013 plate appearance, then flied out to shortstop and drew a walk before exiting. So, he’s hitting .500 in the Cactus League — but I’m not really sure what his WAR is yet.
The first batter Cordero saw in the bottom of the third, Brendan Ryan, hit a solo homer to left-center field. But the 30-year-old — who racked up 113 saves for the Expos/Nats from 2005-07, had shoulder surgery in 2008, lost his 11-week-old daughter in 2010, left baseball in 2011 and is now trying to make a comeback in the Angels’ Minor League camp — retired the next three batters on flyouts. He sat between 89 and 91 mph, where he’s always been, and said he “felt like a rookie again.”
Hank Conger, catching while Chris Iannetta started at DH, hit the Angels’ first home run of the spring — a two-out, three-run shot to left-center field in the first inning — then hit an RBI double and added a two-out RBI single, giving him five RBIs. His throwing may still be a little inconsistent, but his bat may get him on the roster.
Luis Jimenez, ranked sixth in the Angels’ system, made two errors at third base. He dropped a fly ball in the first inning and had a liner bounce off his glove in the fifth.
Kole Calhoun had a couple of misplays at first base, bobbling a grounder before making the out and then having another one go through his legs. He won’t be counted on to play much first base, though. Mike Scioscia just wanted to get the lefty-hitting outfielder in the lineup today.
Mark Sappington (taking in the fifth round in 2012) and Matt Oye (in the Angels system the last four years) came over from Minor League camp and struggled, giving up a combined six runs on seven hits in the seventh and eighth. R.J. Alvarez (a third-rounder last year) suffered the loss after giving up a triple to Francisco Martinez and a walk-off single to Brian Moran in the bottom of the ninth.
Best play (that I saw)
In case you needed any reminders, Peter Bourjos is fast. After drawing his second walk, he moved from first to third — third! — on a wild pitch. He recalled doing that a couple times in the Minors.
Cordero (pictured top right) on Trout: “He’s like one giant muscle.”