Results tagged ‘ C.J. Cron ’

Scioscia is sticking with Hamilton …

Josh Hamilton admitted after Thursday’s loss in Game 1 of the American League Division Series that “the game was obviously moving a little fast.” It was to be expected, after playing in only one of the Angels’ last 23 regular-season games and hardly seeing any live pitching in the meantime. And it didn’t bode well for Friday’s matchup against Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura, who had the highest fastball velocity among starters this year.

But Angels manager Mike Scioscia isn’t ready to give up on Hamilton just yet.

“Right now, looking at all the alternatives, it’s definitely worth playing Josh out now to see where it’s going to lead; there’s no doubt about that,” said Scioscia, who kept Hamilton in the No. 7 spot and also elected to stick with the right-handed-hitting C.J. Cron at designated hitter, rather than going to the left-handed-hitting Efren Navarro.

Scioscia’s alternatives for Hamilton were to start Navarro or the right-handed-hitting Collin Cowgill in left field, the latter of whom would’ve made more sense against soft-tossing lefty Jason Vargas in Game 1. Prior to Game 1, Hamilton had seen velocity only twice since Sept. 4 – during three plate appearances as a designated hitter on Sept. 16, and during a workout on Tuesday.

Hamilton, who rehabbed ailments in his right shoulder and right side in the meantime, took some early batting-practice in 100-degree heat at Angel Stadium early Friday afternoon, trying to find the hot stretch Scioscia keeps anticipating.

“He’s a guy that’s a game changer when he’s on,” Scioscia said. “There is nobody on the bench that we’re looking at that’s going to go in there and potentially do what Josh can do. If it comes to a point where it’s really going the wrong way, or we don’t see it happening, I think that’s a valid question and something you’ll look at. But we’re not there yet. He needs to get some at-bats.”

Here’s the full lineup …

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Erick Aybar, SS
David Freese, 3B
Josh Hamilton, LF
C.J. Cron, DH
Chris Iannetta, C

Alden

Hamilton seventh, Cron eighth vs. Vargas …

The Angels trotted out basically the same lineup they fielded down the stretch for Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday, with a couple of notable, expected tweaks: Josh Hamilton batting seventh and playing left field, and C.J. Cron batting eighth while serving as the designated hitter.

Hamilton played in only one of the team’s last 23 regular-season games due to ailments in his right shoulder and right side and has hardly seen any live pitching in the meantime, so Angels manager Mike Scioscia is batting him lower in the lineup to put less pressure on him. Scioscia also went with the right-handed bat of Cron against Royals starter Jason Vargas, a lefty who held opposing lefties to a .661 OPS during the regular season.

Howie Kendrick has been red hot since taking over for Hamilton in the cleanup spot on Sept. 5, batting .403 with 18 RBIs over that 21-game stretch. David Freese, batting fifth, finished September with a .315/.367/.562 slash line. Scioscia opted to go with Chris Iannetta’s high on-base percentage (.373) in hopes of turning the lineup over to Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout.

Here’s the full lineup behind starter Jered Weaver (first pitch from Angel Stadium is 6:07 p.m. PT on TBS):

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
David Freese, 3B
Erick Aybar, SS
Josh Hamilton, LF
C.J. Cron, DH
Chris Iannetta, C

Alden

Shoemaker to start Game 2; Weaver on short rest …

The Angels will go with a three-man rotation for their American League Division Series matchup against the Royals, with Matt Shoemaker starting Game 2, C.J. Wilson starting Game 3 and Game 1 starter Jered Weaver coming back on short rest to start Game 4.

The setup, announced by Angels manager Mike Scioscia during a pre-workout press conference on Wednesday, gives Weaver and Shoemaker the potential to pitch twice in the five-game series. Hector Santiago, with a 3.75 ERA but a walk rate of 3.7, will be available out of the bullpen. Wilson, coming off a season in which he posted a 4.51 ERA, will only start one game.

Scioscia also announced that Josh Hamilton will start in left field and bat seventh in Game 1, after playing only one of the Angels’ last 23 games due to pain around his right shoulder and ribcage. Right-handed hitter C.J. Cron will start at designated hitter against lefty Jason Vargas, and Scioscia will have a 12-man pitching staff.

Shoemaker, who won 16 games and posted a 3.04 ERA in a surprising rookie season, has been rehabbing from a mild strain in his left oblique, but threw bullpen sessions on Sunday and Tuesday and is “doing remarkably well,” Scioscia said.

“We’re expecting Matt to be fine and pitch as deep as he can into the game,” Scioscia said. “That is one consideration. The other is we really like the matchups. We like the way Matt has been pitching, and I think Weaver getting out in Game 1, followed with Matt, gives us the best look here in the first couple games. C.J. will pitch in Kansas City [on Sunday].”

Weaver has started on three days’ rest only twice before, both times in 2011, when he gave up seven runs in six innings on Aug. 28 and two runs in six innings on Sept. 18. But his last three starts, including the ALDS opener on Thursday, will come on six days’ rest, five days’ rest and five days’ rest, respectively.

The Dodgers pitched ace Clayton Kershaw on short rest for the National League Division Series last year.

“[Pitching coach] Mike Butcher feels really good at the prospects of how Weaver was throwing his ‘pens in between starts, how he was bouncing back, and really feeling that if he had to pitch at all on three days’ rest, he’s ready for it,” Scioscia said. “Most importantly, our medical staff feels really good at where Jered is, and Jered feels 100 percent behind the fact of coming back on three days and being effective. That’s what we’ll look at doing, and we don’t have any reservations at all about wanting to get Jered out there again in Game 4.”

Alden

Narrowing down the Angels’ postseason roster …

The Angels have a lot of questions to sort through before their postseason roster must be submitted to Major League Baseball on the morning of Oct. 2, must prominent of which is the health of Josh Hamilton and Matt Shoemaker. Assuming Hamilton and Shoemaker are healthy (-ish), here’s a look at the players I deem locks to crack Mike Scioscia‘s ALDS roster …

Starting lineup

Chris Iannetta
Albert Pujols
Howie Kendrick
David Freese
Erick Aybar
Hamilton
Mike Trout
Kole Calhoun

Starting rotation

Jered Weaver
C.J. Wilson
Shoemaker
Hector Santiago

Relievers

Huston Street
Joe Smith
Kevin Jepsen
Jason Grilli
Fernando Salas
Mike Morin

Reserves

Hank Conger
Gordon Beckham
Collin Cowgill

That’s 21 of 25 spots. Now here’s a look at the guys who are perceivably on the bubble (again, just my educated guess here) …

SS/3B/2B John McDonald: The 39-year-old has had a very set role all year, as a late-game defensive replacement for Freese at third base, but it would be tough to carry him given the fact Beckham — acquired with the playoffs in mind — can essentially fill the same role.

DH/LF/RF Brennan Boesch: The power left-handed hitter has started 10 games in September, and entered Monday with six hits (and two homers) in his last 16 at-bats. Scioscia clearly likes playing him, but not in the field, and he may have to if Hamilton can only DH.

1B/LF/RF Efren Navarro: He doesn’t bring as much power as Boesch, but he’s another lefty bat who has adjusted quickly to the outfield and is a very disciplined hitter.

1B/DH C.J. Cron: I expect at least one of Boesch or Navarro to make the team, and I’d be shocked if Cron didn’t make it as a right-handed power bat who can start (or pinch-hit) against a lefty.

CF/LF/RF Tony Campana: Campana can play a very particular role on this team, as a Chone Figgins-esque pinch-runner. His placement on the roster could hinge greatly on whether the Angels go with a 12-man pitching staff (commonplace for the regular season) or 11-man pitching staff (commonplace for the shorter ALDS).

LH Joe Thatcher: It seemed like a given that Thatcher would crack the roster as that critical lefty specialist when the Angels traded for him in July, but he’s been slowed by an ankle injury and hasn’t fared well against lefties this year, and Scioscia has often said he won’t carry a lefty if he isn’t getting outs.

RH Cory Rasmus: The Angels have plenty of right-handed power arms in their bullpen, but Rasmus has pitched well and provides length. Who knows, maybe he even starts a playoff game.

LH Wade LeBlanc: LeBlanc doesn’t seem to have a chance at cracking the roster if Shoemaker is healthy, but what if he has another solid start on Tuesday?

Alden

Green on DL with back strain; Cron back up …

Angels utility man Grant Green was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday because of what was initially diagnosed as a strain in his lumbar, a region that makes up his lower back.

First baseman C.J. Cron – basically the everyday designated hitter until he was sent down on Saturday – was called back up from Triple-A as the corresponding move, and Green spent the afternoon visiting team doctors to get a sense for how long he’ll be out.

Green hit the game-winning single on Sunday, then was unavailable the last couple of games. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Green tweaked his back while working out in the weight room; not amid the walk-off celebration.

“It seemed like today it was going in the wrong direction,” Scioscia said, “so we’re going to shut him down for a little bit.”

The Angels will continue to rotate at left field, first base and DH, with Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols getting starts at DH as needed, and the left-handed-hitting Efren Navarro and the right-handed-hitting Cron filling in. The Angels currently have a short bench due to an eight-man bullpen, which is expected to continue until Monday’s off day.

Cron, a 24-year-old rookie, batted .295 with nine homers and 27 RBIs in his first 47 games, a big reason why the 42-year-old Raul Ibanez was released. But he went 3-for-26 with seven strikeouts and no walks in his next six contests before getting optioned back to the Minors. Scioscia called it “the cyclical nature of hitting.”

“C.J. can hit,” Scioscia said. “He’s always hit. It’s just that there’s going to be some periods when you don’t get those balls to fall in, and I think more than anything that’s what you were seeing with C.J.

“The original plan with C.J. was really just to let him exhale. He was really pressing up here a little bit before he got sent down, and hopefully he’s been able to exhale a little bit and be ready to contribute.”

Cron was expected to land about 90 minutes prior to game time, so he’ll be available off the bench.

Lineup …

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, DH
Josh Hamilton, LF
Erick Aybar, SS
Howie Kendrick, 2B
David Freese, 3B
Navarro, 1B
Chris Iannetta, C

SP: RH Jered Weaver (10-6, 3.43 ERA)

Alden

Where does Hector Santiago stand? …

Hector SantiagoMike Scioscia knows who his starters will be on Saturday and Sunday, but won’t announce them until Friday, probably because a corresponding roster move is involved. One of the games will be started by Jered Weaver, and for the other it’ll either be Hector Santiago or Matt Shoemaker. And with that, the Angels’ manager will have essentially made the much-wondered-about rotation decision, which was made difficult by how effective Shoemaker and Santiago have been lately.

Santiago has one thing pointing in his favor: Soon, the Angels have to basically figure out whether or not he’s going to start for them down the stretch.

The non-waiver Trade Deadline is exactly six weeks away, and the Angels have two potential needs: Lefty reliever and starting pitcher. Santiago has a chance to fill either of those roles, but obviously not both. And the decision to keep him in the rotation could rest partly on the fact that they need to figure out whether or not trading for a starting pitcher is necessary.

The Angels have the flexibility to absorb payroll – remember, the money they offered to Matt Garza this offseason essentially went unused — but getting a front-of-the-rotation starter would mean parting ways with top prospects from a farm system that needs to grow. Acquiring a lefty reliever probably would not.

The Angels have been heavily linked to Rays ace David Price, most recently by ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden, who believes C.J. Cron and Alex Yarbrough could be enough to get a deal done. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal linked them to Ian Kennedy of the Padres and Dillon Gee of the Mets. I’ve heard they like Kennedy, Travis Wood of the Cubs and J.A. Happ of the Blue Jays (albeit a contender), among others. The Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija is a sexy name who could be shopped since he turned down a reported extension offer, but he — like Price and the Phillies’ Cliff Lee, who’s currently rehabbing from an elbow strain — will cost some top-shelf prospects.

But before they go in that direction, the Angels need to find out if Santiago’s last two starts were a fluke or a sign that he’s actually rounding into the form they expected when they traded for him.

Now, is five weeks enough to draw a conclusion?

Alden

C.J. Cron continues to sit …

Stephen Vogt, C.J. CronThe National League rules of Atlanta kept him out of the lineup this past weekend, the constant stream of Indians right-handed starters have prompted Mike Scioscia to go with the left-handed-hitting Raul Ibanez on a daily basis, and suddenly the still-developing C.J. Cron is adjusting to life as a part-time player.

“It’s how it works,” Cron said. “Obviously, I want to be in there as much as possible. But I’m not in the lineup, so I’ll be ready in case a pinch-hit comes or whatever.”

Scioscia has continued to go with a strict platoon at designated hitter, starting Ibanez three straight times against righties even though the 42-year-old carries a .153/.257/.258 slash line on the season and is 3-for-18 lifetime against the Indians’ Wednesday starter, Justin Masterson.

The Angels’ manager pointed out that one of those hits was a two-run triple on April 28, brought up the fact that Masterson has limited righties to a .630 OPS this season and said Ibanez “has had some good at-bats in this series,” going 2-for-5 with a couple of walks and no strikeouts.

“I don’t think you’re going to look up tomorrow and see Raul hitting what he should with the production you would expect,” Scioscia said. “But there’s no doubt that he’s making some strides in the batter’s box and you’re seeing better swings. The bottom line is production. Nobody understands that better than Raul. He knows that he needs to contribute and have better at-bats. Nobody is working harder at it than Raul, and we’re very confident that he’s going to contribute for us.”

The question is: When will the right-handed-hitting Cron get playing time?

The 24-year-old had a .305/.329/.524 slash line as of June 4, but has three hits and seven strikeouts in his last 20 at-bats, hasn’t started since last Wednesday and is rotting during a stretch in which the Angels are mostly seeing righty starters. The Indians are throwing four in a row this series, the Rangers will only have one lefty – Joe Saunders on Friday – in Anaheim this coming weekend, and the Twins, who play at Angel Stadium from next Tuesday to Thursday, have only righties in their rotation.

Scioscia said “there’s a chance Cron will get some at-bats against righties, too.”

But for now, he waits, and the Angels face the dilemma of keeping Cron in the big leagues or sending him down to Triple-A so he can get consistent at-bats and continue to develop.

“Ever since I’ve been up here I have kind of platooned,” Cron said. “It hasn’t switched yet. I come to the field every day as if I’m going to play. If I’m not in the lineup, I’ll help the team later in the game.”

Angels (38-32)

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Josh Hamilton, LF
Erick Aybar, SS
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Raul Ibanez, DH
David Freese, 3B
Hank Conger, C

SP: LH C.J. Wilson (7-6, 3.50 ERA)

Indians (36-36)

Michael Bourn, CF
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Jason Kipnis, 2B
Carlos Santana, 1B
Ryan Raburn, RF
Nick Swisher, DH
Yan Gomes, C
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
Mike Aviles, LF

SP: RH Justin Masterson (4-5, 5.05 ERA)

Alden

Angels select LH Sean Newcomb at No. 15 …

The Angels selected Sean Newcomb, a left-hander from the University of Hartford in Connecticut, with the 15th overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft on Thursday night.

Newcomb, who turns 21 next Thursday, is listed at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, with a fastball that can sit at 97 mph, a strong slider and the potential to have an effective four-pitch mix. For the Angels, he potentially fills their glaring need for high-upside starting pitching in their farm system (Newcomb video here).

Newcomb went 8-2 with a 1.25 ERA in 14 starts for the Hartford Hawks during his junior season, striking out 106 batters and walking 38 in 93 1/3 innings. He’s been compared to Red Sox ace Jon Lester, and his selection marks the earliest a Hartford product has ever been drafted (previously Jeff Bagwell, in the fourth round by the Red Sox in 1989).

The Angels will also select 53rd overall on Thursday, and the Draft continues with Rounds 3-10 on Friday. The MLB.com pregame show will begin at 9:30 a.m. PT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 10 a.m.

The Angels’ Draft allotment this year is $5,774,000, which is 20th in the Majors but nearly double that of last year. They’ll get $2,475,600 for their first-round pick and $1,050,600 for their second-round pick.

The Angels had their first first-round pick since 2011, when they took first baseman C.J. Cron 17th overall, and they’re selecting in the top half of the Draft for the first time since they went with current ace Jered Weaver 12th overall in ’04. Their farm system has been ranked last in the Majors by Baseball America heading into each of the previous two seasons.

Alden

C.J. Cron, Grant Green or Ian Stewart? …

Grant GreenJosh Hamilton should return soon — recent setback notwithstanding — and at that point the Angels will have an interesting decision in front of them.

Ultimately, it could come down to the following three guys for one roster spot …

C.J. Cron
Grant Green
Ian Stewart

It looks like Raul Ibanez‘s job is safe, partly because keeping him on the roster is the best way for the Angels to preserve their depth. Cron, Green and Stewart (still on the disabled list, but on track to be activated shortly after Hamilton) can all be optioned to the Minor Leagues. So it looks like it’ll come down to whom the Angels believe will benefit them most initially (I say “initially” because guys are sent down and called up all the time). Below is a look at what each brings, and doesn’t …

Cron

Stats: .283/.298/.478, 47 PA in MLB; .319/.369/.602, 122 PA in AAA
Benefits: A right-handed bat who can platoon with the left-handed-hitting Ibanez at designated hitter, and a natural first baseman — the only one on the roster — who can occasionally spell Albert Pujols.
Drawbacks: Cron still has some developing to do, and came up a little earlier than projected. In my opinion, he should only be up here if he’s going to get consistent at-bats. I’m not sure that would be the case with the Angels at full strength.

Green

Stats: .357/.378/.476, 45 PA in MLB; .349/.395/.505, 119 PA in AAA
Benefits: Versatility. Green is a natural shortstop who is most comfortable at second base and has gotten a lot more comfortable at third base and left field since being acquired by the Angels last July. For the last few days, he’s been getting a lot of early work at first base, too. And that could be big given what I mentioned above regarding Cron.
Drawbacks: It’s a right-handed bat for a bench that on most nights will probably have the right-handed-hitting Collin Cowgill available. Green has been much better against lefties (.935 OPS in 23 plate appearances) than righties (.768 in 22 plate appearances) during his stint in the big leagues. Still a small sample size, though.

Stewart

Stats: .176/.222/.382, 72 PA in MLB
Benefits: Stewart made the team out of Spring Training because on the nights Ibanez starts — and initially it was going to be almost all them — Mike Scioscia has a power left-handed bat off the bench. The fact Stewart can give David Freese a day off against a tough righty, while playing second and first base in an emergency situation, was also a benefit.
Drawbacks: Stewart’s performance hasn’t helped him, especially given how well Cron and Green have hit since coming up. He’s struck out 31 times in 24 games, but is working on getting his hands a little lower to shorten his swing path and hopefully cut those down.

So, which one would you pick? …

Alden

Hamilton hits on the field, headed to Arizona …

Dodgers Angels BaseballJosh Hamilton hit on the field for the first time since tearing a ligament in his left thumb on Wednesday, swinging with one hand as he took side and front tosses from interim hitting coach Paul Sorrento.

Next, he’ll go to Arizona, where he’ll hit off a tee with both hands and play catch on Friday.

Hamilton hopes to take live batting practice when the Angels return from a six-game road trip through Toronto and Philadelphia on May 15, and he hopes to return to the starting lineup for the home series against the Royals from May 23-25 – six and a half weeks since Hamilton hurt his thumb while sliding headfirst into first base in Seattle.

Hamilton had been doing drills with his bottom hand in recent days, but asked to do them outside so he could make sure he continues to stay in the middle of the field.

The silver lining in all this is that it’s Hamilton’s left thumb that’s injured, not his right.

“The top hand helps guide when you go through, but still your bottom hand leads,” Hamilton said. “If I’m getting in good position here, then I know when I put my top one back on I’m going to be all right.”

Angels manager Mike Scioscia has used five different cleanup hitters behind Albert Pujols since Hamilton went down on April 8. Raul Ibanez has hit there 12 times, Howie Kendrick has hit there nine times (including Wednesday), Ian Stewart twice, and David Freese and C.J. Cron have started one game apiece in the No. 4 spot.

With Hamilton playing in only eight of the team’s first 32 games, the Angels are 14th in the Majors in OPS from the cleanup spot.

“We’ve had to do a lot of mixing and matching in the lineup,” Scioscia said. “That big presence behind Albert is something we’re searching for more.”

Some more injury notes …

  • Scioscia said it’s “a strong possibility” that Dane De La Rosa (right s/c joint irritation) joins the Angels on its next road trip, but he’ll need at least one more rehab outing.
  • It’s also “very possible” that Sean Burnett (recovery from August elbow surgery) ventures out on a rehab assignment next, after completing yet another extended spring outing in Arizona on Wednesday.
  • Kole Calhoun (sprained right ankle) ran on the field pretty close to full intensity on Wednesday and will join Hamilton in Arizona over the weekend. He hopes to start a rehab assignment at the four-week mark, which would be Tuesday.
  • Joe Smith (tightness in lower right side) is “doing much better, and we’ll see how he does in pregame.” He may be available tonight, if needed.

Yankees (17-15)

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Derek Jeter, SS
Carlos Beltran, RF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alfonso Soriano, DH
Yangervis Solarte, 3B
Brett Gardner, LF
Brian Roberts, 2B
John Ryan Murphy, C

SP: LH Vidal Nuno (0-0, 6.87 ERA)

Angels (16-16)

Collin Cowgill, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Pujols, 1B
Kendrick, 2B
Cron, DH
Erick Aybar, SS
Chris Iannetta, C
Grant Green, LF
John McDonald, 3B

SP: LH Hector Santiago (0-5, 5.01 ERA)

Alden

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