Results tagged ‘ Dodgers ’
Opening Day is finally here, and Safeco Field seems like a fitting place to start. It’s home to the team many have picked to win the American League West. And it kicks off with a matchup between Felix Hernandez and Jered Weaver, the two guys who have made the most consecutive Opening Day starts in the Majors (Hernandez at seven, Weaver at six).
But Opening Day is only a ceremonial thing. “One of 162,” as many say. The season is long and arduous. And by the end of it, what happens on Opening Day or even in the first series will be nothing but a distant memory (like last year, when the Mariners embarrassed the Angels with a lopsided sweep in Southern California at the start of April).
If the Angels want to win another division title, they’ll have to answer several questions over the course of these next six months. And below are the seven most prominent …
1. What becomes of Josh Hamilton?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the Angels aren’t necessarily in a welcoming mood with Hamilton, who’s still recovering from shoulder surgery and won’t be suspended for a self-reported drug relapse. The tone of their statements after news broke — and what they’ve said privately leading up to it — made you wonder if they even want him around. He’s a very likable guy, but he hasn’t lived up to his massive contract and his latest relapse struck a nerve with the Angels’ brass (make of that what you will). He won’t be going away, though. He’s owed $83 million over the next three years, so the Angels have to see what they get out of him. How does he fit into the roster? What type of production does he provide in his age-34 season? And how does he mesh with a team that may be better off without him? It’ll be the most fascinating storyline this season.
2. How good is Garrett Richards?
Richards has yet to allow a run in three Minor League outings and could return to the rotation by April 19 if all goes well, which means he basically misses only two starts. How good will he be upon returning, though? As good as he was leading up to the season-ending left knee injury he suffered Aug. 20? If so, this Angels rotation — with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago set to open the season — is more dangerous than people think. If not, they’re very vulnerable. A lot rides on Richards’ 26-year-old right arm (not to mention that left knee).
3. What will the Angels get out of second base?
They aren’t fooling themselves into thinking they’ll replicate the production of Howie Kendrick. If C.J. Cron takes the next step in his maturation process (see: patience), David Freese stretches his last four months into a full season and Albert Pujols continues to look as good as he did this spring, they won’t need it. But replacement level production would be nice. Johnny Giavotella will get the first crack, but we may see many guys play second base this year.
4. Who gets the lefties out?
The Angels haven’t had a true lefty specialist since the 2012 version of Scott Downs, and Downs wasn’t really used as a lefty specialist. Last year, the Angels’ go-to reliever to get lefty hitters out was the right-handed Fernando Salas, who has a nice changeup that darts away from left-handed hitters. Ideally, they’d have that traditional left-on-lefty guy. Mike Scioscia has mentioned Cesar Ramos and Jose Alvarez as possibilities, but they’re multi-inning relievers who don’t have the big stuff that plays in that role. The next hope would be Santiago, but that would hinge on Andrew Heaney or Nick Tropeano developing well enough to warrant Santiago’s current rotation spot.
5. How do they upgrade the roster?
Even without saving any money on Hamilton’s contract, the Angels enter the season with $10 to $15 million of wiggle room. That’s what Arte Moreno said early in camp. It’s more payroll flexibility than they’ve had in a while, and they plan to use it. Question is, how? Do they get a second baseman, even though there aren’t many of them out there? (Chase Utley looks like a long shot, because of how intimidating his contract is and because of his no-trade clause). Do they get an outfield/DH bat? Do they get a starting pitcher (a lot of big names are entering their walk years)? Or do they add more bullpen pieces, like they did last year? June/July should be very eventful.
6. What kind of year does Mike Trout have?
You could reasonably expect a great one, considering he stays healthy. But how does he follow up a season that saw him win the AL MVP unanimously? We saw Trout transition into more of a power game last year, hitting more home runs and stealing fewer bases. But he’s only 23 years old, scary as that seems, and he’s still figuring out who he’s going to be in this game. My guess is he cuts down those strikeouts — I don’t know anyone who truly believes Trout is a 180-strikeout-a-year player — but doesn’t increase his stolen-base total by much. The Angels seem content with how often they sent Trout last year. Teams watch him closely and, far more relevant in this matter, steals cause a lot of wear and tear on the body.
7. Are the Angels better than the Mariners?
That’s probably what it’s going to come down to. The Mariners are a popular pick to win the division, because their rotation could be something fierce, their bullpen was one of the best in the game last season and their lineup got a big missing piece they needed in power hitter Nelson Cruz. But the Angels return the core group of a team that led the Majors in wins and finished second in run-differential last year. They’re starting a season with what should be a reliable bullpen for the first time since Jerry Dipoto came on board in October 2011 and they carry the confidence of succeeding with this group.
It should be interesting.
And to get you ready, here’s a look at our Opening Day content, in case you missed anything …
- Anticipated Angels-Mariners clash kicks off Opening Day
- Weaver, the forgotten ace, starts another Opening Day
- The simple question nobody can answer: What does Trout mean to the Angels?
- Kendrick is gone, Hamilton is a mystery — is the offense still elite?
- Scioscia, baseball’s longest-tenured manager, talks about his latest team
- Hamilton won’t be punished, and now the Angels have to see how he fits in
MORE LINKS! An updated depth chart is here, injury updates are here, pitching probables are here and a look at the top 30 prospects is here. You can follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And you can subscribe to my weekly Angels podcast with Richard Justice here.
MLB.com compiled dozens of predictions on who will win each division, how the postseason will play out and where all the major individual awards will go. Below were my picks, if you’re interested …
NL East: Nationals
NL Central: Cardinals
NL West: Dodgers
AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: White Sox
AL West: Angels
NL Wild Cards: Marlins, Pirates
AL Wild Cards: Mariners, Indians
NL champion: Nationals
AL champion: Angels
World Series champion: Nationals
NL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton
NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer
NL Rookie of the Year: Kris Bryant
AL MVP: Josh Donaldson
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
AL Rookie of the Year: Steven Souza
Feliz Opening Day!
Mike Trout arrived to Arizona late Sunday night. On Monday, he shot an all-day commercial for Nike. On Tuesday, he shot an all-day commercial with Clayton Kershaw for Subway. On Wednesday, about 30 media members congregated at the warning track in right field to hear the reigning American League Most Valuable Player speak publicly for the first time in 2015.
In case you hadn’t noticed, Trout is a bona fide superstar.
“It’s crazy,” Trout said, “but it comes along with it. I’m having fun with it. I’m not taking it for granted, putting on a uniform. I’m always coming to the ballpark having fun. It’s a little different, going out in restaurants and stuff like that, getting noticed a little bit more. But I’m having fun with it.”
Trout posted a .287/.377/.561 slash line with 36 homers and an AL-leading 111 RBIs and 115 runs scored while becoming the youngest unanimous \MVP in baseball history. But his stolen-base total dipped to 16 and his strikeouts rose to an AL-leading 184, the most ever by an MVP.
“It’s plain and simple, I was chasing the high pitch,” Trout said of his punchouts. “Everybody knows that. There’s things you can work on, but the majority of the time, they’re balls, and I was just chasing them. I don’t really go into video. I don’t like over analyzing my swing. I just like going out there and doing stuff that helps me work on things in the cage and in BP, and during the games, just go out and hit.”
Trout, who stole 82 bases from 2012-13, said it’s “definitely” a goal to swipe more bags in 2015.
“That’s another thing,” he said. “Just trying to run more. I haven’t talked to [manager Mike Scioscia] or Dino [Ebel, the bench coach,] but they’re probably on board with it, trying to get me to second as much as I can. … They were doing a good job of holding me on. It’s going to be a challenge.”
There’s a chance Trout could move into the No. 3 spot this season — something that may only be possible if Josh Hamilton is healthy and productive — but the 23-year-old said he doesn’t care where he hits. Trout called being swept by the Royals in the AL Division Series a “terrible feeling” and admitted to putting a little added pressure on himself in October, which saw him go 1-for-12 with a home run.
Trout called Howie Kendrick “a big loss,” but likes how the team looks.
“We’re looking to win,” Trout said. “We have the core group, besides Howie, and Josh is banged up a little bit. But other than that, we’re going to try to win some ballgames and get after it.”
Trout did a lot of hunting and a lot of fishing over the offseason — the funnest thing was snatching a few barracudas in the Bahamas — and said “this is probably the best I’ve ever felt, coming into Spring Training.” He came in weighing 239, two pounds more than he finished the season at.
He’s attained almost everything possible at a very young age, but he’s still motivated.
“Putting on a uniform every day and competing since I was a kid, that motivates me,” Trout said. “And just trying to win a championship. If that don’t motivate you, you’re in the wrong sport. You want that ring. Having fun. That’s the biggest thing. Just having fun.”
The last time Howie Kendrick was heading into his walk year, in the offseason heading into 2012, he and the Angels were able to negotiate a four-year, $33.5 million extension.
This time around, the Angels weren’t all that interested.
Kendrick’s agent, Larry Reynolds, reached out to Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto about another deal that would delay the veteran second baseman’s free agency, “But I think with what they were trying to do right now, it just wasn’t one of their priorities,” Kendrick said.
The Angels wanted to acquire cost-controlled starting pitching and free up some payroll flexibility, which they ultimately did by sending Kendrick (and the $9.5 million he’s owed in 2015) to the Dodgers for young starter Andrew Heaney.
Kendrick, speaking from Dodger Stadium on Friday, had no hard feelings.
“It wasn’t disappointing to me, because I understand,” Kendrick said. “I understand the game. There’s no room to be heartbroken or anything like that. I’m excited to play the game, and that’s what it comes down to. Going into the last year, the contract, if they were open to doing it, they will approach you, too. … It didn’t really affect me either way.”
Kendrick met face-to-face with some Dodgers personnel for the first time on Friday, talking about how exciting he is to be on a Dodgers team that’s trying to win it all and resides so close to the organization he grew up with. No extension talks with the Dodgers have taken place, though.
“I don’t know if that will or won’t happen,” Kendrick said. “My focus is playing the game. That stuff, I’m pretty sure, will work itself out, whether it does or does not happen. But like I said, that hasn’t been my main focus or anything.”
There’s a lot to take in from the Winter Meetings, and though the Angels’ moves weren’t among the most eventful in the just-completed four-day stint in San Diego, they were active nonetheless. Jerry Dipoto acquired a left-handed bat, a backup catcher and a couple of utility infielders, and most notably, he traded the Angels’ longtime second baseman for one of baseball’s best pitching prospects.
Some of you have asked for my take, but I think it’s best to reserve judgment, because more than two months remain until Spring Training and there’s a good chance — though Dipoto has stressed how much he likes his roster as it stands — that the Angels aren’t done.
What will they do next? I don’t know. And Dipoto may not be so sure, either. I don’t think he was actively shopping Howie Kendrick; using Hank Conger to acquire Nick Tropeano in early November negated the need to part ways with a position player to acquire cost-controlled starting pitching. I think he was planning on going into Spring Training with his roster mostly intact (plus a utility infielder or two), then came the opportunity to use Kendrick to acquire Andrew Heaney and he simply couldn’t walk away from it.
Now he has plenty of starting-pitching depth (Jered Weaver, Garrett Richards, C.J. Wilson, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago, Heaney, Tropeano, Jose Alvarez, Alex Sanabia, Drew Rucinski project to make up the Major League and Triple-A rotations, with Tyler Skaggs back in 2016) and is roughly $15 million below the luxury-tax threshold. It’s a flexibility Dipoto didn’t foresee having, and now he’s open to where that takes him the rest of the winter.
Maybe he uses that payroll flexibility, or even that pitching depth, to get a middle-of-the-order bat.
Maybe he does nothing.
We don’t know what will happen. All we have to go on is what did happen. Below is a list of 40-man-roster players added and given up by the Angels thus far, listed with their projected cost and the cumulative amount of years they’re controllable for.
Projected cost: $11.6M
Years of control: 16
Projected cost: $6.2M
Years of control: 49
You can make two definitive statements from these moves, takeaways that really came to light with the attention-grabbing moves made late Wednesday night …
1. The Angels are better long-term, and really, that’s the whole point here. When you’re a team with so much money tied to aging players like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Weaver and Wilson, and want to stay below the luxury-tax threshold, it’s crucial to accrue players on the other side of the roster. The Angels had that, with Mike Trout (granted, now also expensive), Kole Calhoun, Mike Morin, Richards, Shoemaker and Santiago producing in the early stages of their prime last year. And now they have a lot of Major League-ready pitching depth, for the rotation and the bullpen.
2. The Angels are worse short-term, though Dipoto may argue that. Shrewd as it was to flip one year of control with Kendrick for six years of control with Heaney, there’s no discounting how difficult it will be for the Angels to make up for Kendrick’s contributions offensively and defensively. Heaney, the 18th-best prospect in baseball, has a bright future, but he hasn’t proven anything yet, and it remains to be seen if either he or Tropeano will be any better than Santiago in 2015 (the three will compete for the last spot of the rotation).
This is the Dipoto quote that summed up Wednesday’s trade best …
The goal is to figure out how to get younger, better, more cost-effective, put yourself in a situation where you can sustain winning. It’s not to get a bunch of guys that everybody has heard of all the time and run them out there and let it flame out. We’re trying to find a way to turn a veteran roster into a veteran roster that can compete now with the elements that are young and can continue to sustain moving forward. The heaviest criticism of the Angels over the last 10 years are that we’re getting older, or that we’re in a short window to win. I think we’re more sustainable than that.
But it’s all about winning the World Series. And while it’s volatile to continually spend in the free-agent market and disregard the importance of controllable, optionable assets, winning the World Series is all that matters to Arte Moreno.
What makes Dipoto so great is that he’s a visionary, is always a few steps ahead and perpetually keeps a keen eye towards the future.
But can he have the best of both worlds?
Can he have a team that’s set up to remain competitive for a long stretch of time without at least somewhat mortgaging immediate championship hopes, particularly with an Angels team that’s coming off a 98-win season and may currently look just a tad worse on the Major League side?
That’s what I’m wondering.
The Angels acquired veteran catcher Drew Butera for a player to be named later or cash considerations on Tuesday, addressing their need for depth behind the plate in the second day of the Winter Meetings.
Butera, 31, will compete with Carlos Perez, Jackson Williams and Jett Bandy for the backup job behind Chris Iannetta, but unlike the other three players, Butera can’t be optioned to the Minor Leagues.
“Some combination of Drew Butera and that group of three guys are going to make up the games in the big leagues that Chris does not catch for us,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said, “and we feel comfortable with that.”
Butera has posted a .183/.239/.268 slash line while appearing in 251 games in the Majors from 2010-14, a span that saw the Orlando product mostly serve as a backup for the Twins and Dodgers. During that time, Butera – designated for assignment when the Dodgers claimed Ryan Lavarnway off waivers – has thrown out 33 percent of would-be base stealers.
“His defensive skill set is awesome,” Dipoto said. “He can really catch, can really throw, calls a good game, has the experience of being with good teams, catching good pitching staffs. He has a tremendous defensive reputation that certainly outdistances his offensive reputation, but we feel like he’s a nice fit for us.”
With Butera acquired, and the left-handed-hitting Marc Krauss claimed off waivers from the Astros on Monday, Dipoto’s only glaring need is a backup infielder. The Angels’ GM remains interested in resigning Gordon Beckham and has had dialogue with several teams about acquiring an optionable middle infielder, perhaps in exchange for one of his right-handed relievers.
Signing Beckham and trading for an infielder “don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” Dipoto said, given the Angels’ need for organizational infield depth.
“We’re on the lookout,” Dipoto added. “We’re still actively discussing possibilities that line up for us in the Rule 5 Draft and we’ve talked to a variety of teams regarding trades for that type of player. In the meantime, we’ll just keep our ears to the street.”
“I have my good stuff; I’m just not locating it precisely,” Wilson said. “Precision is the issue.”
Wilson threw 46 of his 100 pitches for balls in Thursday’s 7-0 loss to the Dodgers. Of the 26 batters he faced, he started off 1-0 10 times and got into three-ball counts nine times. His strike percentage is now 58.6, which would represent a career low (it was 61.4 percent in his previous four years as a starter). His walk rate is 3.94, on pace to be his highest since 2012. And over his last five starts, a stretch in which he’s posted an 11.10 ERA, Wilson has issued 14 walks and two hit batters in 18 2/3 innings.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said “this is probably the worst C.J. has struggled since he’s been a starting pitcher,” which is obvious. “But,” he added, “seeing how hard C.J. works, and seeing that it doesn’t look like it’s anything physical with him, we’re very confident that he’s going to get back on that beam and do what we need him to do.”
Stuff-wise, Chris Iannetta said, Wilson was “much better” from where he was in a six-run, 1 1/3-inning outing against the Rays on Saturday, his first since coming off the disabled list with a right ankle sprain.
“But that’s not saying much,” Wilson added, “because I think I could’ve thrown right-handed and pitched better last time.”
Wilson threw a 60-pitch bullpen session between starts, mainly because he only threw 50 of them in his previous game. Stamina-wise, he feels good. And besides a curveball that had way more bite than he wanted to on Thursday, his stuff is good. But he just can’t put it where he wants.
Here’s how Wilson explained it …
The location is the issue. There’s no issue with stuff or anything else; it’s just location. Today, you can watch the game, you can see the guys that are getting hits that are hitting the ball on the ground. They’re breaking their bats, balls are flaring in there. [Juan] Uribe hit the ball hard, but it’s not like dudes are taking Billy Madison swings and hitting balls off the rocks. The stuff is decent — making guys miss, striking guys out. It’s just the walks. It’s getting to the point where I’m throwing the ball at the corner and it’s not on the corner; it’s off the corner. Or trying to go in and it’s a little bit too far in. If you went through the video and watched every single pitch, the misses that I had tonight were pretty good misses for the most part.
Not good enough. Not by a long shot. Wilson is supposed to be the No. 2 starter in this rotation, a key cog for a team with World Series aspirations. But he’s 8-8 with a 4.82 ERA that’s the third-highest among qualified American League starters. And he’s scuffling at a time when the Angels need starting-pitching help more than ever.
Is he confident it’ll turn around?
“Very confident,” Wilson said, “because the quality of the stuff is there.”
Just as Hector Santiago was lacing up his spikes to take the mound for his Dodger Stadium start on Tuesday night, one of the Dodgers’ clubhouse attendants came over with a jersey, signed by his ensuing opponent, Clayton Kershaw, just as the Angels’ left-hander had requested.
“Yeah,” Santiago said, smiling. “No doubt.”
But Santiago can’t help himself. He’s an avid collector of signed baseball jerseys, with a multitude of opportunities as a Major League player. In his new Arizona home is a two-car garage he turned into his own, personal man cave, with the entire wall space taken up by about 30 signed jerseys. Fifteen more are framed in his personal gymnasium, and several others are scattered in his closet.
How many does he have?
“Whew,” Santiago said. “I’m gonna go with … 150? Right around there.”
The Kershaw-signed jersey was sent along with ones from Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and hitting coach Mark McGwire, joining several recent ones that will be framed soon (Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Billy Williams, Rollie Fingers and Hank Aaron, which Santiago was already offered $4,500 for but will not sell).
“I’m doing pretty good,” Santiago said.
The 26-year-old thought of sending Kershaw his own autographed jersey, even though the Dodgers’ ace didn’t really ask for it, in the hopes that Kershaw would “give me a meatball” when he came to bat.
“But no, he wants to paint fastballs on the black to me,” Santiago said after going 0-for-1 with a sac bunt at the plate, and giving up four runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings of the Angels’ 5-4 walk-off loss.
Santiago never got the chance to thank Kershaw, but he’ll try to on Wednesday.
“Maybe I’ll send him my signed broken bat.”
“It’s how baseball should be, you know?” Trout said after the Angels’ 5-0 win at Dodger Stadium. “Little rivalries, cross-town. It’s fun for me.”
Asked how he takes it when fans — in this case, 53,166 — boo him in an opposing ballpark, Trout said: “Oh, it pumps me up. Definitely. When you hear them, that means they’re paying attention to the game and they’re in the game. It’s pretty cool.”
Trout had some fun with it, too. Particularly in the sixth, when he made a couple of running catches, noticed that his face was on the Jumbotron and playfully grinned at Dodgers fans, igniting more boos for a player who’s revered throughout baseball.
“I’m just having fun out there,” Trout said. “That’s why we play the game; have fun. Fans out there bring excitement to you. A lot more boos, but I expect that at Dodger Stadium. It’s going to be a fun next couple of days, for sure.”
Mike Morin was walking on the beach in St. Petersburg, Fla., with a couple of friends Saturday night and cut the bottom of his foot on an unknown object, prompting four stitches and a trip to the disabled list for the Angels’ rookie reliever.
The 23-year-old right-hander – with a 2.36 ERA in 41 appearances – doesn’t require a walking boot and expects to return by the time his disabled-list stint is up in a couple weeks.
But the nature of the ailment made it a difficult one to come to grips with.
“This is pretty tough, especially because this is such an important time for us right now,” Morin said. “It’s something that I need to move forward from, and just try to help this team in other ways. I’m staying positive.”
Some other notes for the Freeway Series opener …
- Tyler Skaggs got another MRI, this one with a contrasting agent, that confirmed he has a strain in his flexor tendon. “Very happy,” Skaggs said. The 23-year-old isn’t sure when he’ll be back, but he’s confident it’ll happen before the end of the regular season.
- Collin Cowgill was activated off the disabled list, as the corresponding move for Morin landing on the DL, and feels no restrictions with his right thumb.
- Joe Thatcher got an MRI on Monday that confirmed a ligament sprain in his left ankle. He’s in a walking boot now, but expects to be back in three to four weeks.
- The Angels have not lost a season series to the Dodgers since 2006. They’re 15-7 in their last 22 games against the Dodgers.
- Tommy Lasorda made sure he got a picture with Mike Trout pregame. The Hall of Fame manager previously took a pic with the 22-year-old phenom at a basketball game, but never got it, so he made sure to pose with him Monday. “Keep playing how you’re playing; keep talking how you’re talking,” Lasorda told Trout.
Dane De La Rosa‘s forearm injury, which caused a rough outing against the Dodgers on Thursday and prompted him to leave the game early, was diagnosed as a sprain, an MRI confirmed, and the Angels’ power reliever doesn’t believe he’ll start the season on the disabled list.
“I doubt it,” a relieved De La Rosa said Friday morning, while hooked up to an electronic muscle massager.
“I should be fine. I’m not sure about the timeline, I can’t really say, but it won’t be too long.”
Starting the sixth inning from Tempe Diablo Stadium, De La Rosa — the journeyman 31-year-old coming off a breakout season in 2013 — allowed five of the seven batters he faced to reach and served up a grand slam to Scott Van Slyke. With two outs in the inning, he was checked on by the Angels’ medical staff and removed from the game.
“I just didn’t feel the ball,” De La Rosa said. “There were a few times when I just had no idea where it was going. I just couldn’t feel fingertips. If you can’t feel your fingertips when you’re pitching, it’s not a good thing.”
De La Rosa said he and the Angels will “attack [rehab] pretty aggressively,” but he didn’t have a gauge on a timeline because he hasn’t visited with the team’s medical staff yet. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said a return by Opening Day, on March 31, is “still realistic because he’s a bullpen guy, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
De La Rosa earned the nickname “Everyday Dane” last season for the frequency of his usage. He pitched in 75 games, fifth-most in the American League, while posting a 2.86 ERA and emerging as the team’s setup man down the stretch.
Asked if all those appearances have caught up with De La Rosa, Scioscia said: “I mean, his bullpens have been great. He didn’t show any signs of anything last year. But I don’t know if you ever really know.”
- C.J. Wilson on Dr. Frank Jobe, who passed away on Thursday: “The pitcher’s elbow is like Humpty Dumpty, and he figured out how to put it back together again.” The Angels left-hander, like many, believes guys like Dr. Jobe and Dr. Lewis Yocum, who passed away last year, should be enshrined in Cooperstown.
- The Angels will meet with Major League Baseball at some point in the next week, where they’ll look at video of Thursday’s play at home plate. Scioscia said the meeting was pre-planned and not a reaction to yesterday’s play. Mike Trout was looking at pictures of his slide on his phone in the clubhouse and said he’s still confused about Rule 7.13 on home-plate collisions. Many are. “Guess I have to do my homework,” he said.
- Former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher is in full uniform today and was chatting up with Trout during warmups. He’ll shag fly balls and take batting practice. Albert Pujols has played golf with him several times and, not surprisingly, says he can drive the ball a long, long way.
- Catcher John Hester is fine after taking a fastball to his left wrist in the ninth inning of Thursday’s game. He didn’t require X-rays and may even play against the Rockies today.
- Today is the Angels’ first split-squad game of the spring. Triple-A manager Keith Johnson will focus on the offense, player information coach Rick Eckstein will handle the defense and Erik Bennett will be the pitching coach.
- Some notes for the game against the Cubs in Tempe today: Kole Calhoun has led off in six of the Angels’ seven Cactus League games, so, yes, he’ll be the leadoff hitter this year. “You kind of get caught in the middle, I guess, because I do like to be aggressive but right now you kind of have to take a step back and see some more pitches,” Calhoun said. … Trout, Pujols, David Freese, Howie Kendrick, J.B. Shuck, Hank Conger and Erick Aybar are also in that lineup, with Hector Santiago starting.
- Some notes for the game against the Rockies at Salt River Fields: Grant Green will get his first spring start at third base. … Bench competitors Andrew Romine (shortstop), Ian Stewart (first base), Collin Cowgill (center field) and Brennan Boesch (left field) are also in the lineup, with Joe Blanton starting.