Pujols on leak of meetings: ‘It’s really embarrasing’ …
The prevailing sentiment in the Angels’ clubhouse on Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after a FoxSports.com report detailed friction between the front office and coaching staff, wasn’t so much anger at what took place.
It was disappointment in the fact that it was made public.
“Whoever leaked that story, it’s really embarrassing,” Angels first baseman Albert Pujols said. “We’re supposed to be a family here.”
The report stated that “emotions simmered” amid a series of meetings revolving around the front office’s belief that the coaching staff was doing an inadequate job of relaying scouting information to players. In those meetings, occurring this past weekend, at least one coach “responded heatedly” to general manager Jerry Dipoto and Pujols issued “a pointed rebuttal” to the fourth-year GM.
A source said the report’s portrayal of the meetings was “verbatim,” though what it all means moving forward is still very much open for interpretation.
“I’m not going to comment on what happened or didn’t happen,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, “but I can only tell you it will not be a distraction to these guys.”
Angels setup man Joe Smith believes it was no different from what goes on throughout the course of any season with any team.
“You have a bunch of men filled with testosterone in one little room, and we’re with each other every day and we’re all trying to do something,” Smith said. “Stuff happens, and I think it’s better when it’s kept in-house. Because it does happen; it happens every year in every clubhouse. You keep your mouth shut, you keep it in here, and you move on, with everybody performing in the right direction.”
But the report could also be yet another sign that Dipoto and Scioscia, baseball’s longest-tenured manager, aren’t on the same page. And it’s even more prevalent when considering that Scioscia can opt out of his 10-year contract at the end of this season, rather than staying through 2018.
Dipoto, who had his 2016 club option picked up earlier this season, didn’t respond to several requests seeking comment. The two bumped heads through Dipoto’s first two years, 2012-13, but Scioscia said he and Dipoto are “a good team,” adding that “the only real issue” was when they let hitting coach Mickey Hatcher go in May 2012.
We’ve moved past that,” Scioscia added. “We’ve moved way past that.”
Dipoto, according to the report, believes the coaches rely too heavily on “feel” and the coaches “seemingly do not trust the information they are given,” making them “not willing or able to translate it for the players.”
None of the roles in the Angels’ coaching staff or in-game scouting department will change, Scioscia said. A source added that the players will simply be receiving scouting information directly to their iPads from the front office, rather than have a coach filter through it first. The players can then choose to do what they want with it.
“The only difference is getting the scouting reports to players and then bringing it back to coaches,” Scioscia said. “It’s just a slight adjustment.”
The FoxSports.com report said Pujols “challenged” Dipoto on Sunday, by “saying that the coaches are working as hard to prepare the players as they did last season, but that the roster is not as strong as it was a year ago.”
Asked about having words with Dipoto, Pujols said: “That’s none of your business. Whatever happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse.”
The report comes at a time when the Angels are still trying to find their footing. They won a Major League-best 98 games last year, but they’ve had a .500 record on 18 separate occasions this season. And despite winning four of their previous five games, they entered Tuesday four games back of the first-place Astros in the American League West.
On the mound, the Angels sport the fifth-lowest ERA in the AL. On defense, a department where the Angels began incorporating a lot more defensive shifting at the start of 2014, they rank third in efficiency, according to Baseball Prospectus. Their offense, however, has scored the fourth-fewest runs per game in the AL.
“It’s been a tough year so far,” Pujols said, “but we’re only four games out with still  games before [the All-Star] break.”
Angels starter C.J. Wilson considered the heated discussions “a positive thing.”
“That’s the way I took it,” he said. “Like, ‘Hey, we’re going to work harder as a team overall, have more communication overall.’ I didn’t see anything wrong with it. The whole goal is not about ego; it’s all about winning.”