Results tagged ‘ Hiroyuki Kobayashi ’

So, who rounds out the Angels’ bullpen? …

Remember all that talk about the Angels’ bullpen being deeper, better heading into 2013? Well, that’ll probably be the case eventually, but leading up to Opening Day, a setback and some spring disappointments have made it a bit difficult to identify the seven relievers who will begin the regular season with the big club.

With 17 days left until the April 1 opener in Cincinnati, and Ryan Madson opening the season on the disabled list, five relievers are still set: righties Kevin Jepsen and Ernesto Frieri, lefties Sean Burnett and Scott Downs, and long man Jerome Williams.

That leaves two spots and some haziness because …

Michael Kohn, who progressed very quickly from April 2012 Tommy John surgery, has struggled with mechanics and off-speed pitches in recent outings and was optioned to Minor League camp on Friday.

Hiroyuki Kobayashi, signed as a Minor League free agent from Japan, was released in early March because he wasn’t throwing as hard as they expected.

Bobby Cassevah — homegrown, out of options and coming off a rough 2012 — cleared waivers and opted for free agency, eventually hooking on with the Rockies.

Veteran Tony Pena had a setback from Tommy John and is trying to work through it in Minor League camp.

Lefty Brandon Sisk, acquired for Ervin Santana and most of his salary, was sent down about a week ago.

Fernando Cabrera, another veteran obtained on a Minor League deal, has spent most of the spring pitching for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic (2 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 SO).

Andrew Taylor, the lefty who had a very brief stint with the Angels as a September callup, has a slight tear in his labrum and won’t pitch for a while. Granted, he didn’t really have a chance anyway.

With that out of the way, here are the options the Angels are left with (keep in mind that the seventh relief spot — the team hopes — may only be relevant for a few weeks, until Madson comes off the DL) …

Garrett Richards

I identified him early in camp as a guy who seems poised to land a full-year bullpen spot, and more than a month in, there’s no reason to change my mind. Yes, his future is best as a starter. Yes, the Angels will preserve starting-pitching depth by keeping Richards stretched out in the Minors. Yes, Richards struggled as a reliever last year. But Richards’ stuff plays as a reliever, he should be better if his role remains consistent, it’s time for him to be up in the big leagues for a full season, and putting him on the roster gives the Angels their best 25 heading into the season (I don’t think that’s up for dispute). Besides, they have better rotation depth 6-10 than they did last year.

Nick Maronde

In some ways, Maronde’s situation is quite the opposite of Richards’ — his future is probably as a reliever, but it’s probably best to keep him stretched out in the Minors. Why? He’s still developing and the Angels don’t need another lefty. Even with how camp has gone, I still expect Maronde to start for Triple-A Salt Lake, getting some valuable experience heading into a potential bullpen role in 2014 (with Downs a lingering free agent).

David Carpenter

That last spot may be Carpenter’s to lose at this point. In 2012, the 25-year-old right-hander posted a 4.76 ERA in 39 2/3 innings in the big leagues and a 2.75 ERA in 19 2/3 innings in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. But he hasn’t really stuck out this spring, giving up three runs on seven hits and four walks in 6 1/3 innings.

Chad Cordero

“The Chief” is a fantastic story, but he can’t really make the team out of Spring Training … right? “Never say never,” one member of the organization said. He is still in camp, and he bounced back in his last outing five days ago. Still, though, a long, long shot.

Others

Lefty Mitch Stetter, the longtime Brewers reliever, hasn’t pitched yet because of a bulging disk in his back that was bothering him early in camp, but he’s expected to get in a game at some point this weekend. … Robert Coello, 28, appeared in six games with the Blue Jays last year and has given up five runs in 2 2/3 innings this spring. … Kevin Johnson, who posted a 3.69 ERA in the Angels’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates last year, has given up four runs in 5 2/3 Cactus League innings.

Outside help? 

The likes of Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Valverde and Brian Wilson, among others, are still out there, and the Angels do have an open spot on the 40-man. Not sure anyone available is an upgrade, though.

 — Alden 

Dodgers 10, Angels 8 …

Jerome WilliamsJerome Williams was hit around on Thursday, giving up five runs (four earned) on five hits and two walks in his two-inning stint, putting his ERA at 11.25 in four Cactus League innings. It’s early – really early – but the 31-year-old right-hander hasn’t been able to put it together just yet.

“Jerome is working really hard, but he’s just getting behind every count,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He hasn’t been able to put guys away, and that’s a tough combo if you’re not getting ahead and you’re not putting guys away.”

Scioscia believes Williams’ good stuff “is there,” he just “hasn’t brought it into a game yet.”

More from Thursday in Glendale – another Angels loss (they’re 0-5-2) you can’t take much away from …

The good

Howie Kendrick blew up, going 3-for-3 with a single and a double off Clayton Kershaw and a solo homer off another southpaw, Ted Lilly.

Hiroyuki Kobayashi threw a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk while striking out one. The Japanese right-hander has given up one run in three innings this spring.

Chad Cordero, making his second spring appearance, gave up a double and a bloop single that scored a run, but also struck out two hitters.

The bad

Peter Bourjos, batting leadoff, went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts but is still batting .375 this spring.

Brad Mills, out of options, gave up four runs on four hits and two walks in two innings.

Alberto Callaspo went 0-for-3 with a couple of strikeouts and misplayed a grounder at third base – but he also made a nice diving play to his left.

Best play (that I saw)

Mark Trumbo made a nice diving stab to his right on a hard grounder in the first inning. It was the second nice play he’s made at first base – a position he could spend a lot of time at in April, given Albert Pujols’ recovery from knee surgery. He dropped a foul pop-up later in the game, but several players have had a hard time with this Arizona sun.

Best quote

Josh Hamilton, asked if it’s possible that an outfield with Bourjos and Mike Trout gives up no triples all season: “It’d be close to possible, but you think of a ball being hit the wrong way or something, that’s the way this game is. But if everything worked out perfectly, then it’s a possibility.”

Alden

Trout gives back to alma mater, plus other notes …

MV4!Mike Trout, three years removed from high school, is giving his alma mater some Major League treatment.

As part of winning the Player’s Choice Award for the American League’s Outstanding Rookie, the Major League Baseball Players Association offered to reward $20,000 to a foundation of his choice. Trout chose the Millville High School baseball program, where he starred as a Thunderbolt before being the Angels’ first-round pick in 2009.

Millville baseball coach Roy Hallenbeck said he’s going to “try to make it stretch as long as we can,” but the team has already purchased new gray uniforms and alternate tops, and on Friday, they finished sodding the field in anticipation for the start of practice in March.

Don’t worry, there’s more coming.

In January, BODYARMOR SuperDrink, the company that signed Trout to its first major endorsement deal, decided to get involved, too.

“Mike was on board from the beginning,” Hallenbeck said, “and every time I talk to those guys [at BODYARMOR], they say he brings it up all the time. He’s really excited about that project working out and helping us out.”

BODYARMOR hasn’t said exactly how much they plan to contribute, but their involvement — which could include sprucing up the press box, adding a big net behind home plate, providing “L” screens and, most importantly, renovating the batting cages — was recently approved by the board of education.

By the end of March, Hallenbeck believes, everything will be finished.

And by early June, the field will be rededicated to bear Trout’s name.

“There’s no major construction differences,” Hallenbeck said, “but it’s just going to be adding a lot of really nice bells and whistles to what we already have.”

With Cactus League games starting on Saturday, here are some notes to get you caught up on the first 11 days of camp …

  • Josh HamiltonRyan Madson had a setback after a Feb. 1 bullpen session and is taking it slow. He won’t be ready by Opening Day and there’s a chance he won’t pitch in any Spring Training games in March, but the Angels are hopeful they’ll have him at some point in the early portion of the season.
  • Albert Pujols is still working his way back from arthroscopic right knee surgery. Don’t expect him to appear in games until mid-March.
  • The early start of camp has prompted Angels manager Mike Scioscia to change things up a bit, with no intrasquad games, very little live batting practice and plenty of rest for the regulars. The starting pitchers won’t start until March 1, which makes it even harder to find bodies for the split-squad opener. The elimination of the third-to-first move has also forced Scioscia to tinker.
  • Josh Hamilton came in lighter than normal, maintaining his end-of-season weight of 225 thanks to a healthier diet. Trout did the opposite.
  • Hamilton can expect to hear loud boos when he returns to Texas on April 5, thanks to some comments he made on TV.
  • Here’s what we know about the lineup: Trout will lead off, Pujols will bat third, Hamilton will bat fourth and Trumbo — at least at the start — will bat fifth. It may be a revolving door between Howie Kendrick, Alberto Callaspo and Erick Aybar in the No. 2 spot, with Chris Iannetta and Peter Bourjos hitting lower in the lineup.
  • Scioscia doesn’t sound like a man who’s ready to fully commit to Bourjos as his starting center fielder, continuing to leave the door open for Vernon Wells to get some playing time in left field, which would move Trout to center. But some of that may be the Angels’ skipper trying to be sensitive to Wells’ situation. Scioscia has also said Garrett Richards and Jerome Williams are fighting for spots in the rotation, even though the five are already set.
  • The Angels have two big lingering free agents in Jason Vargas and Scott Downs.
  • Ernesto Frieri is trying to add a cutter, and thinks it can do wonders.
  • Sean Burnett is dealing with a back ailment, but it isn’t expected to hinder him much. Michael Kohn is looking great after Tommy John surgery. Veteran relievers Tony Pena (setback after Tommy John) and Mitch Stetter (bulging disk) are working themselves back slowly, currently throwing off flat ground. First base prospect C.J. Cron (shoulder surgery) is doing everything but throwing and is targeting Opening Day, in Double-A.
  • Kendrick and C.J. Wilson don’t expect to be hindered by offseason elbow surgery.
  • Two reclamation projects are currently working out in Minor League camp — former Nationals closer Chad Cordero and former A’s first-round pick Ben Fritz.
  • Aybar (Dominican Republic), reliever Fernando Cabrera (Puerto Rico) and first baseman Efren Navarro (Mexico) will leave camp early to take part in the World Baseball Classic.
  • The Angels have a new partnership with Ticketmaster. Individual tickets go on sale tomorrow.
  • In case you missed them, here are stories on Trout, Pujols, Wells, Bourjos, Jered Weaver, the new rotation trio, The Big Three, Trumbo, Hamilton, Omar Vizquel, Chris Iannetta, Hank Conger, Scott Cousins, Bill Hall, Randal Grichuk, Kaleb Cowart, Kole Calhoun, Bobby Cassevah, Hiroyuki Kobayashi and Travis Witherspoon.
  • For a breakdown of the Angels’ Spring Training roster, click here. … For the videos we’ve put together, click here. … For photos, click here.

Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout

Alden

MRI is clean, but Madson won’t throw for another week

Two things became clear regarding Ryan Madson on Wednesday: What he’s dealing with in his surgically-repaired elbow is nothing more than inflammation, and Opening Day is essentially out the window.

The former was revealed in a Tuesday MRI that came back clean. The latter is the result of Madson being shut down 13 days ago and unable to throw again for another week, when he’s re-evaluated.

Madson won’t flatly dismiss pitching the ninth inning on April 1 in Cincinnati, but he’s no longer in a race against time to make it back by then.

“That’s what I was going towards and it maybe got me in a little bit of trouble,” Madson said. “Now I don’t have a date in mind. I just want to let my arm take me and guide me.”

Madson first felt uncommon soreness in his elbow, which underwent Tommy John surgery on April 11 of last year, during his fourth bullpen session of the offseason on Feb. 1. Since then, he’s only been getting treatment. And for the next seven days, he’ll be on a strengthening program.

“I’m just going to listen to the trainers and my arm, especially, and just let it do its thing and not try to put any limits or goals on it,” said Madson, who was signed to a one-year, incentive-laden contract over the offseason. “But I can’t wait to go out on the field and pitch in a game. I want everybody to know that, the fans to know that – I am eager to get out there, and that’s what got me in trouble in the first place.”

The last thing the Angels want to do is rush his recovery, so they’ll wait until all the swelling subsides before allowing him to pick up a baseball again.

“I think that what he has is definitely manageable,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It’s just going to be a matter of following some protocol to make sure he doesn’t do a little too much, too soon. He’s hopefully going to feel better fairly quickly.”

If Madson starts the season on the disabled list – all but a certainty at this point – Ernesto Frieri would probably be the closer, with Sean Burnett, Scott Downs and Kevin Jepsen the other options in the back end.

Madson’s temporary absence would also create an additional opening in the bullpen, with Michael Kohn, Garrett Richards, Hiroyuki Kobayashi, David Carpenter and Bobby Cassevah (out of options) among a large, eclectic group competing.

“I think there’s depth there,” Scioscia said, “and Ryan is a guy that can really solidify some roles down there and we look forward to that. I think from Day 1, we should be in a position to hold leads better than we did last year. And we expect Ryan to eventually be part of that.”

Alden

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