Angels hire Charles Nagy as new pitching coach …

nagyThe Angels named Charles Nagy their new pitching coach on Monday, signing the former All-Star and longtime Indians linchpin to a two-year contract.

Nagy replaces Mike Butcher, who was dismissed after nine seasons as the Angels’ pitching coach nearly three weeks earlier. Butcher is now the D-backs’ pitching coach, a post Nagy held for three years until getting dismissed at the end of the 2013 season.

Nagy, 48, pitched in the big leagues from 1990 to 2003, spending 13 of those 14 years in Cleveland. He made the All-Star team three times, won 129 games and was an important piece to the dominant Indians teams of the 1990’s, pitching in the playoffs for five straight years and appearing in two World Series (both losses).

Nagy was a pitching coach for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake City, Utah, from 2006-07 and with the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, in 2010. He was hired as the Major League pitching coach in Arizona for the following season, but was removed from then-manager Kirk Gibson’s staff on Oct. 8, 2013.

Nagy – a native of Bridgeport, Conn. – spent the 2015 season as a special assistant to player development with the Indians.

Alden

Joe Smith continues in the fight against HD …

In recognition of his efforts to raise awareness and funds for Huntington’s Disease, Angels reliever Joe Smith was recently honored with the Guthrie Award at the 15th annual HDSA San Diego “Celebration of Hope” Gala. That night, in front of over 400 people at a house in Point Loma on Oct. 10, Smith gave a heartfelt speech about the disease that is prevalent in his family.

“I hate to use the word money, but that’s what it takes for research, and that’s what it’s going to take to save my mom,” Smith said towards the end. “I’d give every dime I have if they had a cure today.”

More information, and a way to donate, can be found at HelpCureHD.com, a site started by Smith and his wife, CBS sideline reporter Allie LaForce.

Huntington’s disease is a deadly, neurodegenerative disorder that’s inherited within families, causing involuntary movements, physical disability, emotional disturbance and cognitive impairment. Smith’s grandmother suffered from Huntington’s until her death, his mother has been dealing with it for the better part of a decade, and there’s a 50-percent chance he or his sister, Megan Nein, will someday get it, too.

Smith recalled the day his mom, Lee, was told she had HD. It was February 2012. Smith was driving to the Indians’ Spring Training facility in Goodyear, Ariz., when he got a call from his father, Mike, with the news. Then his mom came on the phone.

“I’ll never forget the sound of her voice — it was just empty,” Smith said, breaking down in tears. “I’ve never heard anything like it. That stayed with me for a long time, that sound, when she said. ‘Hi, Joseph.’ Just the way she said it.”

Smith and LaForce launched the website two Octobers ago and have since raised $400,000 through it. Their goal is $2 million for research. Over the years, Smith has learned a lot about HD, which affects more than 30,000 Americans, with another 200,000 or so at risk.

In the meantime, he’s gained a whole new level of admiration for his mother.

“Sorry, Dad, I get my toughness from my mom,” Smith said at one point, drawing a laugh from the audience. “If you talk to her, she’s full of energy, she’s witty, she’s very funny. She stares it right in the face every day.”

Alden

Angels ‘are human,’ will scoreboard watch …

Every game in Sunday’s potential regular-season finale will start at 2 p.m. CT, which means every score from from around the Majors will be displayed on Globe Life Park’s left-field fence. That includes the Astros game in Arizona. The Angels need the Astros to lose to force a Monday tiebreaker at Minute Maid Park, and if they jump to a big early lead, Angels players will notice.

Whether they want it to or not, it could affect how they approach their own game.

“It may be hard to keep up the same intensity,” Angels shortstop Erick Aybar said in Spanish on Sunday morning.

“Everybody in this dugout, on this field, coaches included, are going to be human,” Mike Scioscia added. “We know the situation. I don’t believe it’ll be any distraction. We’re going to go out there and try to win this game, so it’s not going to affect any game management. And it’s not going to affect what these guys do. We know what we need to do.”

The Angels will approach the finale of a four-game series — and the potential finale of their season — with a very shorthanded pitching staff.

Garrett Richards will be starting on three days’ rest for the first time in his career, and the Angels’ bullpen has had to account for 27 1/3 innings over the last eight games.

Interim closer Joe Smith will be available for a full inning, Scioscia said, but few others will be. Trevor Gott, a rookie who has already made 73 appearances in the Majors and Minors, may only be available for a batter or two. Lefty Jose Alvarez, who has appeared in five of the last six games, may not be available at all. Fernando Salas, who has appeared in three of the last four, may not be able to go a full inning, either. Closer Huston Street, of course, has a left groin injury and is doubtful to even be available for the American League Division Series, Scioscia said.

Scioscia would ideally go with Nick Tropeano if his team has to play a tiebreaker on Monday, but that may evolve into a bullpen game. Tropeano will have his spikes on and will be available out of the bullpen, if needed on Sunday. Today would’ve been his turn to start, so he’s available to go as long as needed.

“I’ll be ready,” Tropeano said pregame.

“The only thing that’s going to stop us from doing it is not putting guys at risk,” Scioscia said. “But as far as what we do to try to win a ballgame, you’re going to try to use everything you have just because of the nature of where we are.”

If the Angels advance to play the AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser on Tuesday — which, for them, would only be possible from Yankee Stadium — Andrew Heaney will get the ball.

The rookie left-hander will not be available before then.

“I don’t’ think it’s right,” Scioscia said, “for that kid or for us.”

Alden

The Angels in 2016 …

The 2016 schedule was unveiled Tuesday, with the Angels and the rest of the American League West facing off against the National League Central in Interleague Play.

Opening Day is April 4 and the regular-season finales are scheduled for Oct. 2. Major League Baseball has yet to announce which two teams will open for ESPN during Opening Night on Sunday, April 3. The First-Year Player Draft will take place June 9 and the All-Star Game, from Petco Park in San Diego, is being held July 12.

Below is a categorical look at the Angels’ slate.

Out of the gate: The Angels open a day later, on Tuesday, April 5, at home against Joe Maddon and the Cubs. They’ll start with a two-game set, then host the Rangers for a four-game weekend series – April 7-10 – and hit the road for a 10-game, 11-day road trip.

Against the Dodgers: They’ll play four games, not six, against their crosstown rivals this season. And they’ll all come in the middle of May. The Angels will play at Dodger Stadium May 16-17, and the Dodgers come to Angel Stadium May 18-19.

More Interleague: The Angels will travel to face the Brewers (May 2-4), Pirates (June 3-5) and Cubs (Aug. 9-10), while hosting the Cardinals (May 10-12) and Reds (Aug. 29-31). The Angels once again will not be going to St. Louis, which means Albert Pujols won’t return to Busch Stadium until 2019 at the earliest – unless the Cardinals and Angels meet in the World Series.

Logistics: The Angels have three three-city trips. They go Oakland-Minnesota-Chicago April 11-21, Boston-Tampa-Baltimore July 1-10 (right before the All-Star break) and Seattle-Chicago-Cleveland Aug. 5-14. Two of their 16 off days will come in the middle of a road trip – players hate those – and they’ll have one trip, in September, that pairs Arlington with Houston.

Down the stretch: In September, the Angels will play 25 of 29 games within their division. The season will end with a six-game homestand, against the A’s and Astros from Sept. 26 to Oct. 2. It’ll mark the first time since 2011 that the Angels have finished their season at home.

Alden

Big arms, wide eyes, sweaty hands, leadoff homers …

troutasgSean Newcomb impressed at the Futures Game, Albert Pujols put on a show at the Derby, Mike Trout proved once again that he’s the best all-around player in the game and Hector Santiago soaked up every minute of it. Below are links to our All-Star Game coverage from Cincinnati, in case you missed anything …

Trout & Frazier on a jet, Santiago’s mementos, Yadi on Albert, tuning out noise
Castrovince, on Trout’s growing legend after his second straight All-Star Game MVP
A look at the leadoff home run that propelled the AL and gave Trout another trophy
Cut4, with a look at Trout’s All-Star Game cycle
Trout’s bat is headed for the Hall of Fame
Cut4, on Pujols booing his former Cardinals teammates
A look at Pujols’ eventful return to the Home Run Derby
How Santiago “snuck in the middle” with Trout and Pujols
Sean Newcomb, unnoticed out of high school, excelled at the Futures Game

— Alden

Source: Jerry Dipoto could step down as Angels GM …

Jerry Dipoto is considering stepping down as the Angels’ general manager, industry sources told MLB.com on Tuesday, one day after a FoxSports.com report detailed friction between the front office and coaching staff.

“It’s possible,” said the source, who couldn’t speak on the matter publicly.

The Angels declined comment on the matter. Dipoto did not respond to several requests seeking comment.

Sources said Dipoto packed up his office and left early Tuesday. Angels owner Arte Moreno then made an appearance in the Angels’ clubhouse after his team captured its fourth straight victory with a 2-1 win over the Yankees. But team officials said no announcement was pending Tuesday night.

Dipoto, 47, joined the Angels for his first GM job after the 2011 season and helped guide the team to a Major League-best 98 wins in 2014. Early this year, Moreno picked up the club option on Dipoto’s contract for 2016.

Dipoto, a longtime Major League reliever, joined the Angels after front-office stints with the Red Sox, Rockies and D-backs, where he briefly served as the interim general manager. In three-plus years with the Angels, Dipoto agreed to extensions with core players Mike Trout, Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar; traded for the likes of Huston Street, Chris Iannetta, David Freese, Hector Santiago, Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney; acquired C.J. Wilson and Joe Smith in free agency; and helped oversee the lucrative, owner-driven signings of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.

Along the way, Dipoto acquired a bevy of pitching depth for an Angels farm system sorely lacking in talent. But he also bumped heads with Mike Scioscia throughout his first two years, disagreeing on the implementation of scouting information and advanced analytics and drawing the ire of the long-time manager over the dismissal of hitting coach Mickey Hatcher.

In 2013 — after the offseason additions of Hamilton, Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson, Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson all backfired — the Angels finished 18 games out of first place. And for most of 2015 — from the early part of Spring Training until the end of April — the Angels’ brass was engaged in an awkward, contentious situation with Hamilton, who suffered a drug relapse in February and stayed away from the team until being traded back to the Rangers.

On Monday, a FoxSports.com 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 Dipoto and Pujols issued “a pointed rebuttal” to the fourth-year GM.

Alden

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 [11] 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.”

Alden

Morin nearing return, Weaver throws off mound, etc. …

Angels reliever Mike Morin returned to the team on Monday, one month and five days after going on the disabled list with a strained left oblique. The 24-year-old right-hander is done with his rehab assignment and is expected to be activated by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Morin made one appearance in Arizona, then three for Triple-A Salt Lake, notching two scoreless outings before giving up four runs on six hits in two-thirds of an inning on Sunday – Morin’s first time pitching in back-to-back days and his final test before rejoining the Major League club.

Recent results aside, he feels good.

“I don’t think about it at all,” Morin said of his oblique, which he tweaked while pitching in Fenway Park on May 23. “It has not crossed my mind one bit. That is nice to know that it’s healed up. Now it’s about getting people out.”

Morin did a lot of that during his rookie season last year, while posting a 2.90 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP in 60 appearances. With Kevin Jepsen gone, Morin entered the 2015 season eyeing an opportunity to be the Angels’ seventh-inning reliever, but he’s been charged with 11 runs (10 earned) on 13 hits and five walks in 15 innings thus far.

Morin’s walk rate is about the same – 2.9 walks per nine innings last year, 3.0 walks per nine innings this year – but he believes he’s been focusing too much on his mechanics instead of just going right after hitters.

“That’s why I was successful last year – because I was aggressive,” Morin said. “I think that’s really the main thing – attacking the strike zone and not worrying about results. Just committing to a pitch and just throwing it. It’s a small sample size, but my first three [rehab] outings, very minimal pitches, plenty of strikes. It’s been good.”

  • The Angels called up right-handed-hitting slugger C.J. Cron from Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday, after optioning left-handed-hitting third baseman Kyle Kubitza on Sunday. Cron started against lefty CC Sabathia, but the Angels aren’t expected to see another lefty until Saturday (Wandy Rodriguez of the Rangers).
  • Collin Cowgill (sprained right wrist) took batting practice on the field before Monday’s game and Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he’s “getting close” to going on a rehab assignment. The Angels could face a tough roster decision between Cowgill and Daniel Robertson, another right-handed-hitting outfielder with similar skillsets.
  • Lefty reliever Edgar Ibarra was outrighted Sunday, putting the Angels’ 40-man roster at 39. That potentially creates a spot for Cory Rasmus, who has pitched in six innings in four rehab appearances in Triple-A. The Angels want Rasmus – on the 60-day DL after undergoing surgery for a core injury – to get more stretched out before getting activated.
  • Angels starter Jered Weaver (inflammation in his left hip) got off the mound for the first time on Monday, throwing a 20-pitch, all-fastball bullpen session. Weaver said he felt good and will throw a more extended bullpen session Wednesday, incorporating all his pitches. The 32-year-old right-hander probably won’t need to go on a rehab assignment before coming back. … Asked if Weaver could return before the All-Star break, Scioscia said: “It’s tough to handicap it right now, but there’s anything from making sure he physically feels good to getting back into his delivery and finding it, and getting some stamina in there in terms of up-down bullpens. So there’s a little bit of work to go.”

Alden

Heaney called up to start vs. Astros …

The Angels called up top prospect Andrew Heaney to start Wednesday’s series finale against the Astros, pushing previously scheduled starter Matt Shoemaker back a couple days to iron out some of his mechanics.

Heaney, who was acquired from the Dodgers for second baseman Howie Kendrick, was 6-2 with a 4.71 ERA in 14 starts for Triple-A Salt Lake, posting a 1.53 WHIP while walking 2.9 batters and striking out 8.5 per nine innings.

The 24-year-old left-hander posted a 3.02 ERA in his first nine starts, but has given up 27 runs (24 earned) in his past 27 2/3 innings.

“There’s a statistical part of the [Pacific Coast League] you have to take into consideration, so we obviously rely very heavily on what our coaches see,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “And I think that Andrew’s ready for the challenge. He’s pitched well. I think he’s made a lot of progress through Spring Training, and I think he can come up here and pitch like he can.”

The Angels are off on Thursday, then Shoemaker will start Friday’s series opener against the Mariners, with Garrett Richards going Saturday and Hector Santiago on Sunday.

The Angels wanted to give Shoemaker a couple of extra days to work with pitching coach Mike Butcher on commanding and locating his fastball. The 28-year-old right-hander has a 5.20 ERA in 13 starts, giving up 15 homers in 72 2/3 innings.

“It definitely doesn’t hurt right now, I’ll put it that way,” Shoemaker said of the extra rest. “It definitely doesn’t hurt.”

Heaney — ranked first in the Angels’ system and 20th overall by MLBPipeline.com — essentially takes the rotation spot of Jered Weaver, who was placed on the disabled list Sunday with a inflammation in his left hip. The Angels sent down outfielder Alfredo Marte after Tuesday’s 13-3 loss to eventually get back to a five-man rotation.

With off days factored in, the Angels also need a fifth starter on Tuesday and July 11. Weaver, who will start throwing again at the end of the week, could return as late as July 21 and miss only two starts.

Heaney entered Spring Training with a chance to win a spot in the rotation, but gave up 19 runs in 24 1/3 innings.

They believe he’s a different guy now.

“The reports are that Andrew is ready for the challenge in the Major Leagues,” Scioscia said. “It’s been brewing for a while. He’s been knocking on our door and he’s ready to take this opportunity.”

Alden

No structural damage on Jered Weaver’s hip …

Tests revealed no structural damage on Jered Weaver‘s left hip, an ailment that forced the Angels’ starter to be placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday.

Weaver won’t pick up a ball for five days, then get re-evaluated, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Monday.

The Angels hope Weaver can return shortly after the All-Star break, though Scioscia didn’t want to put a timetable on his return. Because of off days, and the four-day All-Star break, Weaver could miss just two starts — the Angels next need a fifth starter on June 30 and July 11 — and return as late as July 21.

Scioscia said Cory Rasmus, currently in a rehab assignment for Triple-A Salt Lake, is an option to start in Weaver’s place. Rasmus would only be able to throw three or four innings, though, prompting the Angels to have a bullpen game similar to what happened every time Garrett Richards‘ turn came up in September last year. Jose Alvarez also has some length and can piggy-back Rasmus on those days.

Triple-A starters Andrew Heaney, Adam Wilk, Drew Rucinki, Alex Sanabia and Nick Tropeano — close to returning from a shoulder injury — are also options.

Alden

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