Results tagged ‘ Bryce Harper ’

Harper, Trout together again …

troutdc

Mike Trout and Bryce Harper will play against one another in a regular-season game today for the first time on Monday, the start of a three-game Interleague series between the Angels and Nationals in Washington, D.C. Before first pitch, Trout took part in a press conference to talk about his link to the Nats’ star outfielder. Here’s what he had to say …

Any family here?

Yeah, actually I do. Baltimore’s closer, but this is the most tickets I’ve ever left today (15).

How do you handle the comparisons, be it with Harper or Miguel Cabrera?

It’s not like we really compete against each other. We’re both trying to get hits, obviously. For me, if I try to do too much, that’s when I get in trouble. I’m just trying to win ballgames.

Appreciate interest fans have for this matchup?

Yeah, it’s good. We have some young talent in the league, [Manny] Machado, Harper, me. I can name a bunch of guys. To be a part about it, and playing on the same day in the same city, it’s pretty cool. It’s good for the fans.

Talking to him near the batting cage?

Yeah. It was the first time I’ve seen him in a while. It was just pretty cool to see him. We were just talking about some stuff; talking baseball.

Is it distracting to play close to home?

Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming because you want to see everybody and talk to everybody. But sometimes it’s tough. You have a lot of things to do, and you have to prepare for the game, obviously. But it’s cool when you’re in the outfield and stuff, or you’re on deck and you see some friends you haven’t seen in a while. I think it’s pretty cool.

Is it strange to also be linked to Cabrera?

I’m just trying to have good years, and it just so happened that at the end of my first two we were 1-2 in MVP. Just being linked with him makes me feel good. He’s a great player, obviously. Just being compared with him and other guys, that makes you feel good.

Do you like being compared to Harper ever since you both entered the league?

I kind of figured it. Ever since we were in the Fall League. … People are always going to get compared. It’s pretty cool being compared, not just Harper but the Hall of Fame guys like [Mickey] Mantle, guys like growing up, you watched them play. Guys that I haven’t seen play because I was born in ’91.

Ever catch yourself peeking at Harper’s stats?

Not really. I’m a guy that looks up friends. … All the guys. After the game, go on the MLB app or whatever and check out some highlights when I have a little downtime in the hotel.

What was your relationship like with Harper during the 2011 Arizona Fall League?

There was a lot of hype, but we were terrible. It’s just one of those things. I’m sure if you gave us that team again the year after that, we would’ve done better. There was just a lot of great players coming in from other organizations and playing on one team. … I made a lot of new friends there. It was cool.

What about Harper’s game impresses you?

He plays the game hard. He’s max-effort every time — besides that lack of hustle the other day. That’s the way they have it over there. If you don’t obey the rules, you’re going to pay the price. … I talked to him about it; he [knows] what he did wrong. We’re both trying to have fun and win ballgames.

Do you and Harper keep in touch during the season?

We’re not texting each other saying, ‘Keep your front side open’ or anything like that. If he does something good — like the other day, I shot him a text just messing around like, ‘A couple of guys in the clubhouse are wondering if you got jammed on that ball you hit down the line, the one that went in the third deck.’ Just small talk. Nothing crazy.

Alden

Sun sets on the Arizona Fall League …

The Scottsdale Scorpions, made up partly of Angels prospects, finished the Arizona Fall League 15-16 — not good enough to qualify for the championship game — and top prospect Kaleb Cowart (pictured) struggled. The 20-year-old, switch-hitting, former first-round pick, who rose to No. 1 in the Angels’ system by the end of the season, posted a .200/.265/.283 slash line with one home run in 17 AFL games. As one scout said, he was simply “out of gas.” The same thing happened to Mike Trout in 2011, playing a lot in September with the Angels and scuffling big time while on the same team as Bryce Harper in the AFL. So, what do you make of Cowart’s fall? Nothing. He’s still a talented prospect the Angels hope can be their everyday third baseman by 2014 (though 2015 may be a safer bet). Below are how the rest of the Angels prospects did in the AFL. For more info on the league, go here, and for more info on these guys, click here

LHRP Buddy Boshers: 4 R (3 ER), 3 SO, 3 BB, 2 2/3 IP

RHRP Bobby Cassevah: 2-0, 3.13 ERA, 6 GS, 23 IP, 18 SO, 8 BB

RHRP Ryan Chaffee: 8 R, 9 SO, 6 BB, 6 1/3 IP

RHRP Kevin Johnson: 3.75 ERA, 7 SO, 1 BB, 12 IP

C Carlos Ramirez: 6-for-24, 4 RBI

OF Randal Grichuk: .228/.297/.351, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 16 G

CF Travis Witherspoon: .219/.288/.411, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 21 G

Alden 

Game 160: Angels-Mariners …

Well, the Angels need a miracle. But, as Mark Trumbo said after last night’s doubleheader split, “It’s a chance.” In order to force a tiebreaker for the second Wild Card spot, the Angels must sweep and the A’s must get swept. If the Rays also sweep, we’d have a three-team tiebreaker scenario, which would really complicate things. Here are the lineups from a gorgeous Monday at Safeco Field …

Angels

Mike Trout, CF
Torii Hunter, RF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Kendrys Morales, DH
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Mark Trumbo, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Maicer Izturis, SS
Chris Iannetta, C

Pitching: LH C.J. Wilson (12-10, 3.86 ERA)

Mariners

Dustin Ackley, 2B
Casper Wells, RF
Kyle Seager, 3B
Jesus Montero, DH
Justin Smoak, 1B
Michael Saunders, CF
Miguel Olivo, C
Trayvon Robinson, LF
Brendan Ryan, SS

Pitching: RH Felix Hernandez (13-8, 2.86 ERA)

  • Erick Aybar is still feeling tightness in his right quad and won’t be available tonight. Will he be available in any of these last three regular-season games? That’s unknown right now.
  • Trout’s jersey is the fifth-highest-selling in the Majors. The top four are: Derek Jeter, Josh Hamilton, Ichiro Suzuki and Bryce Harper. Pujols did not crack the Top 20.
  • The Angels and Class A Inland Empire announced a two-year extension, through 2014.
  • Hunter enters today batting .313 and is now a lock to hit .300 for the first time in his career — even if he goes 0-for-5 in each of these last three games. He’ll be the oldest (37) to do it for the first time since 1957.
  • If there’s anything surprising about Trout’s rookie season it’s that he reached 30 homers — despite missing a month and after totaling only 23 in 286 career Minor League games. Part of that is a somewhat more upright batting stance. Here’s what Mike Scioscia said: “If you saw Mike take batting practice and swing, play in games when he was 17, you saw the potential. He was 17 in Angel Stadium going oppo six, seven rows back like a left-handed pull hitter. I think you were pretty sure that he was going to develop power at some time.”

Alden

Trumbo’s favorite Derby homer? It’s a tie for first …

KANSAS CITY — Mark Trumbo impressed a lot of people with his Home Run Derby showing on Monday night, even though he was eliminated in a tiebreaker swing-off by Jose Bautista. Asked for his favorite of the 13 through the first two rounds, Trumbo narrowed it down to two — the one that landed on the roof of the Hall of Fame building beyond the left-field bleachers (measured at a conservative 428 feet); and the smoking line drive out to straightaway center (420).

“I’d say the one on top of the roof,” Trumbo said, before backtracking — “but the one to center was impressive. I think a lot of the guys really liked the line drive.”

Trumbo’s average distance per home run — 434 feet — was the longest among the competitors, including champion Prince Fielder. He started off slow each round, then got into a little bit of a rhythm towards the middle, but felt he could’ve done better.

“I felt like I never really got into a great rhythm,” Trumbo said. “It seemed like I’d hit one, make an out, and then have to take a few pitches. Ideally, the goal is to get into an extended rhythm, kind of like Prince did, and then rattle off a better total. My biggest thing was just to have fun with it. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. I wanted to get one. That was the advice — don’t get a goose egg.”

Trumbo’s favorite moment?

“[David Ortiz] pulled me aside before I left yesterday and that was really cool,” he said. “He was telling me it took him three or four times of doing it to really feel like he — not had it down, but had a chance. Things move very, very quickly when you’re out there. You can’t really simulate that.”

But C.J. Wilson, at least, can capture it.

As usual, Wilson was out there with his camera and estimated taking roughly 800 photos of the Derby participants. He’ll look over them when he has time in the next few days and print them out for Trumbo to keep.

“I had my brand-new camera out there, taking some cool images that I’ll process while we’re on the road in the next couple days and see if I can come up with some winners,” Wilson said. “It’s just fun. Jered [Weaver] and Mike [Trout] and I were out there just trying to hype him up and keep him motivated and have a good time. It’s a lot of pressure out there, when you’re the only guy batting for a couple minutes at a time in front of the fans.”

Trumbo’s roommate also TiVo’d it. But many of those in attendance won’t need reminders of the show Trumbo put on. Many were impressed.

“I know my Twitter following went way up,” Trumbo said with a smile.

“Any time I’m in something, I want to win. But I’m going to take away some really cool memories from it.”

Some other pre-All Star Game notes

  • Asked about their friendship in a pregame presser, Trout joked of Bryce Harper: “We don’t like each other.” Bryce: “It’s like Bird and Magic. He’s Magic, I’m Bird.”
  • Maybe more LeBron and Wade? “I hope I play with [Trout] one day,” Harper said. “I think him playing center field, me playing right field, as a one-two punch, I think that’d be fun.”
  • Trout was asked who wins in a footrace between him and Peter Bourjos. His response: “I think Peter’s got me around the bases in an inside-the-parker, but home to first, we were talking about it the other day, I think I have him by a couple of steps.”
  • Weaver was told he’ll pitch the fifth inning tonight. As for how it affects him for the second half? It’s just like a normal bullpen session.
  • Trout and Trumbo are not really sure when they’ll get in. “I have all my gloves, as usual,” Trumbo said. C.J., of course, is sitting out due to a blister he doesn’t expect to impact his second half.
  • Weaver on not being named the starter for the All-Star Game a second straight year, despite leading the Majors with a 1.96 ERA: “I told you guys, whatever happens, I’m just excited to be here, be a part of it. Obviously it would’ve been cool to start back-to-back years, but I’m just excited to be able to get out there and throw an inning and just be part of this whole experience. It’s fun. It’s great to hang out with all these guys and just see who they are as a person instead of just battling against him.”
  • One guy Weaver was really excited to get to know a little better here: Adam Dunn. “He’s a funny character, man.”

Some Angels All-Star Game links …

Some intriguing All-Star Game stories …

The lineups …

NL

Carlos Gonzalez, DH (COL)
Melky Cabrera, CF (SFG)
Ryan Braun, LF (MIL)
Joey Votto, 1B (CIN)
Carlos Beltran, RF (StL)
Buster Posey, C (SFG)
Pablo Sandoval, 3B (SFG)
Dan Uggla, 2B (ATL)
Rafael Furcal, SS (StL)

SP: RH Matt Cain (SFG)

AL

Derek Jeter, SS (NYY)
Cano, 2B (NYY)
Josh Hamilton, LF (TEX)
Bautista, RF (TOR)
Fielder, 1B (DET)
Adrian Beltre, 3B (TEX)
MikOrtiz, DH (BOS)
Mike Napoli, C (TEX)
Curtis Granderson, CF (NYY)

SP: RH Justin Verlander (DET)

Alden

Some thoughts on the new CBA

Well, first off, it means that baseball is changing. A lot. While the new, five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement ensures things will remain constant with regards to labor peace for at least 21 straight years, it means a lot of things about the game we know and love will now be different.

Here are some thoughts …

* Astros fans may not like it much, but their move to the American League West makes plenty of sense — it creates those six five-team divisions, gives them that natural rivalry with Texas and creates an avenue for the additional Wild Card teams.

* I love the additional Wild Card teams, but as I’ve said before, I’d prefer that it be a best-of-three scenario between the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds, not simply a one-game elimination.

* I don’t mind Interleague Games being played all year long. Interleague play has lost its luster through the years — like all things that grow old — so no biggie. It’ll be interesting to see how they shape the schedule, though. If you’re going to make winning your division more meaningful, you ought to give teams more games against their division rivals.

* I’m still trying to get my head around the elimination of Type A and Type B free-agent status. It seems this greatly benefits those middle-tier free agents, who end up being classified as A or B without having really earned the distinction. Teams will now be less willing to offer them a deal — in this case, the average of the 125 highest-paid players in baseball — in order to get Draft picks, and they’d have more suitors. Wouldn’t make much difference for the big-name FAs, though.

* The players won in a lot of ways here. There will be a lot more Super IIs, and the Major League and Minor League averages continue to rise.

* But it’s not a good time to be an amateur ballplayer. The signing deadline is now a lot earlier (some point between July 12 and 18, instead of Aug. 15), and there is now a cap on spending on the First-Year Player Draft and the international pool.

* MLB and the MLB Players Association continues to seek competitive balance, and a lot of this CBA promotes that — including the new “competitive balance lottery,” where clubs with the lowest revenues and smallest markets have a chance to obtain additional draft picks. But competitive balance certainly isn’t promoted with regards to spending caps in the draft. Over-spending on the Draft is how teams like the Pirates and Nationals have been trying to make themselves better, not teams like the Yankees and Red Sox. If there was a spending cap, and an earlier deadline, you think the Nats have Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper right now?

* HGH testing, bans on smokeless tobacco and several other mandates — all signs of players and owners being on the same page.

– Alden

1st half is almost over; time for invisible hardware

Pretty unreal that the first half of this 2011 baseball season will ceremoniously end in three days.

It has been yet another busy one.

The Pirates, Indians and Diamondbacks are well-positioned in their respective divisions. The Phillies and Red Sox are on top as expected. The White Sox and Twins have struggled. Matt Kemp, Lance Berkman, J.J. Putz, Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes have experienced their own respective revivals. Manny Ramirez has retired. Bartolo Colon has turned back the clock. Derek Jeter hasn’t. Jose Bautista has gotten even better. Bob Geren, Edwin Rodriguez and Jim Riggleman have departed. Davey Johnson and Jack McKeon are back. The Mets’ and Dodgers’ stability have come into question. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds have taken the stand. Eric Hosmer, Jemile Weeks, Lonnie Chisenhall, Dustin AckleyMike Trout and a host of others have come up. Buster Posey has been lost for the year. Joe Mauer has become somewhat of a first baseman. Bryce Harper has dominated. Dan Uggla, Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford and Adam Dunn have all struggled with new teams. Justin Verlander and Francisco Liriano have thrown no-hitters. And pitching in general has continued to dominate.

One more weekend series remains before the All-Star break, and soon after that, we’ll reveal our cumulative first-half awards. But before I depart to Phoenix on Saturday morning, I figured I’d give you my own.

Here goes …

AL MVP

Jose Bautista (.333 BA, 1.158 OPS, 29 HR, 61 RBI)

* Simply the best player in baseball right now. He’s getting very little to hit and taking advantage of every mistake. 

AL Cy Young

Justin Verlander (11-4, 2.26 ERA, 138 SO, 143 1/3 IP)

* A no-hitter in progress every time he takes the mound. 

AL Rookie of the Year

Michael Pineda (8-5, 2.58 ERA, 106 SO, 108 IP)

* A physical specimen with great stuff who stays within the strike zone. 

AL Manager of the Year 

Manny Acta (Indians 47-39, 1 1/2 games up in the AL Central)

* Easy choice with the way the Indians have performed. Everyone expected them to eventually fall off, but they’re still in first place.

NL MVP 

Jose Reyes (.354 BA, .398 OBP, 32 RBI, 30 SB, 15 3B)

* The most electrifying player in baseball right now. Let’s hope he doesn’t miss too much time on the DL. 

NL Cy Young

Jair Jurrjens (12-3, 1.87 ERA, 1.066 WHIP, 110 2/3 IP)

* In a league with names like Halladay, Lee, Lincecum, Johnson and Greinke, Jurrjens has put up the best numbers. 

NL Rookie of the Year 

Danny Espinosa (.249 BA, 16 HR, 52 RBI, 11 SB)

* Not a great crop right now. Espinosa has put up the power numbers and provided Gold Glove-caliber defense. 

NL Manager of the Year 

Tony La Russa (Cardinals 47-42, tied for first place in the NL Central)

* No Adam Wainwright, a mediocre Chris Carpenter and Albert Pujols (by their standards), plus bullpen issues, and still TLR has them on top.

– Alden

** Filed this week: The NL has the pitching to win the All-Star Game; Werth, Uggla, Dunn and Crawford have all struggled with new contracts and new teams; MLB, New Orleans agree on new Urban Youth Academy; MLB, MiLB deal perhaps a sign of labor peace throughout industry. 

*** I haven’t watched the replay of the Rangers fan who died while trying to retrieve a baseball on Thursday night. I can’t. It would sadden me too much, and would make me think of how devastated I would be to lose my father. My heart goes out to that little boy and his family. 

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