Results tagged ‘ Howie Kendrick ’

Trying to clear up this ‘light wave’ stuff …

lightsNobody really knows when it started, or why it even became a thing. But some time around late May — or maybe it was early June — a group of Angels fans thought it’d be a good idea to start shining the LED lights of their smartphones in the late stages of night games at Angel Stadium. It started with a small segment of the crowd, then grew more and more prominent until it spread throughout the ballpark on almost a regular basis.

On Thursday night, in a packed house for a tight division race and in front of the national-TV cameras of MLB Network, the phase became a talking point like never before, with A’s fans and even several media members chalking it up as a strategic, somewhat-disrespectful ploy to distract the Oakland hitters.

So, I thought it’d be a good idea to clear a couple of things up: The craze is nothing new, and it’s actually something Angels fans often do when their own hitters are up in the box.

You can argue that it’s silly, and you’d probably be right. But it doesn’t seem to be strategic, and the hitters actually don’t seem to have a problem with it. I asked Albert Pujols about it earlier in the year, because it seemed the light wave grew really intense during one of his seventh-inning at-bats, and he said he didn’t even notice it. Howie Kendrick said the same thing a few nights later, when it was his turn to bat while lights blinked throughout the ballpark.

“You don’t really notice it, because the batter’s eye is so big here,” Kendrick said, referring to the large patch of grass that sits beyond the center-field fence.

The Angels’ official Twitter account has a hashtag for it, as you probably noticed last night, which reads #LightWave. But they said they’ve never promoted the event and that they tweet it out only as a reaction to it happening — not as a signal for fans to do it.

“It’s something that has been at our ballpark for a few months now,” said Tim Mead, Angels vice president of communications. “Last night was not unique. And quite honestly, when it first started, it was unique to us regarding its origin, as it is each and every time it happens. … There’s no rhyme or reason to when it happens.”

The problem, as some have pointed out, would come if fans start bringing laser pointers and point them in the direction of the players. That would cross the line.

Alden

Hamilton sits again in Boston …

Angels cleanup hitter Josh Hamilton was out of the starting lineup for a second straight day on Monday, with manager Mike Scioscia wanting to give him some extra time to recover from his ongoing slump.

Hamilton has five hits and 18 strikeouts in his last 38 at-bats, dropping his batting average to .266 while keeping him stuck on eight home runs in 72 games. He’s scheduled to come to Fenway Park early on Tuesday to have a one-on-one session with hitting coaches Don Baylor and Dave Hansen “to try to find a comfortable concept in the batter’s box that he can take to the game,” Scioscia said.

“I’m all right,” Hamilton said, “but I don’t make the lineup. … I’m gonna do some early work tomorrow, see how it goes. If I hit enough out, I’ll play.”

With Hamilton out, Howie Kendrick – with 10 hits in his last 30 at-bats – batted in the No. 4 spot for the second straight day and Brennan Boesch started in left field, with Albert Pujols at designated hitter and Efren Navarro at first base. Scioscia will try to stay away from Hamilton in the series opener against the Red Sox.

The 33-year-old slugger has missed five games in the last nine days, if you count two Angels off days on Tuesday and Thursday. Hamilton got mental breaks Monday and each of the last two Sundays.

“It brings a lot of attention to what you’re trying to do when a guy you count on to hit in the middle of your lineup is struggling for a long period of time. We have every confidence, and I know Josh does, that he’s going to find it and he’s going to contribute. Any concern would just be short term trying to find a path that’s going to get him where he needs to be. This guy’s going to hit.”

Alden

As Trout goes, so does the offense …

Mike TroutThe Angels have a deep offense; one of the deepest in the game. They have Albert Pujols, a Hall of Famer if he retired today. They have Josh Hamilton, one of the most dynamic players in the game (at least that’s what he was in Texas). They have Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Kole Calhoun, David Freese, etc. — all solid hitters in their own right. They’re more than just Mike Trout.

But even they struggle to produce when the game’s best all-around player isn’t right.

The Angels — losers of back-to-back games after a 4-3 defeat on Wednesday — have averaged 3.25 runs per game since the start of the second half, all while Trout has found himself in the midst of a rare (and perhaps short) slump.

“We have to be more than Mike,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, “and we know we are.”

But here’s a breakdown of how the team has fared along with Trout so far this season (Trout’s slash line is in parenthesis, followed by the Angels’ runs per game and their record during that stretch) …

March 31 to April 28 (.327/.391/.606): 5.44 RPG; 12-13
April 29 to May 19 (.164/.314/.358): 4.21 RPG; 12-7
May 20 to July 13 (.356/.440/.701): 5.24 RPG; 33-17
July 18 to July 30 (.220/.304/.420): 3.25 RPG; 6-6

The league average for runs per game this season is 4.11, so the Angels still manage to do pretty well when Trout struggles from the No. 2 spot. Clearly, though, they’re at a completely different level when he’s on point. And luckily for them, his hot streaks tend to last a lot longer than his cold ones.

Asked how he feels at the plate these days, Trout said: “Timing’s a little late right now. Just picking the ball up late. Ones that I should be hitting I’m seeing late and I’m rushing my swing. That’s a little fix; nothing to worry about.”

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

Grant Green: A Ramblin’ Man …

Grant GreenDavid Freese had come over from St. Louis, Erick Aybar was entrenched at shortstop and utility man Andrew Romine was out of options, so Grant Green went into 2014 figuring he’d just stay at second base for the Angels, to start there in the Minor Leagues and be ready on the off chance Howie Kendrick was traded.

“I couldn’t have been more wrong,” Green said from the Angel Stadium clubhouse on Friday afternoon, shortly after being recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake.

Green started the season with the Salt Lake Bees, played two games at second base, then spent the rest of the time getting re-acclimated with the left side of the infield, playing a lot of shortstop and a little bit of third base.

A week ago, he was told he’d start playing left field, and Green didn’t know what to think. He asked Triple-A manager Keith Johnson what was going on, and couldn’t get an answer.

“You’re kind of thinking, ‘Did I not do a good job at third and short that they have to put me in the outfield now?’” Green said. “But as long as you’re in this clubhouse over that one, I guess you’re doing something right.”

The Angels just wanted Green to be as versatile as possible to make him more appealing in the big leagues, and give them more options to get his bat in the lineup – a bat that was responsible for a .349/.395/.505 slash line in 119 plate appearances in the Pacific Coast League.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he’s “very comfortable” starting Green in left field, a position he spent 49 games at in the A’s system in 2012. The 26-year-old right-handed hitter, acquired from Oakland in exchange for third baseman Alberto Callaspo last July, wasn’t in the lineup against right-hander Colby Lewis, but will probably start on Saturday against Matt Harrison and most other lefties moving forward.

Left field figures to be Green’s primary position with the Angels right now, but Scioscia said “his versatility is something that will come into play.”

Green credited former Angels second baseman Bobby Grich for his success at the plate early on. The two met at a Make-A-Wish event, exchanged numbers and started working together in a local batting cage. Grich taught Green to finish his swing a little lower, which Green believes has “allowed me to stay on the plane of the ball a lot longer.”

Left field “feels good,” Green said.

Everything does in the big leagues.

“It was just getting used to not reacting right away; taking a couple seconds to see where the ball goes first,” Green said. “But it felt fine. The throw’s a little bit longer, the batter’s a little further away. Other than that, it’s the same.”

Rangers (15-13)

Shin-Soo Choo, LF
Elvis Andrus, SS
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Prince Fielder, 1B
Alex Rios, RF
Donnie Murphy, 2B
Leonys Martin, CF
Michael Choice, DH
Robinson Chirinos, C

SP: RH Colby Lewis (1-1, 4.60 ERA)

Angels (14-13)

Kendrick, 2B
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Freese, 3B
Aybar, SS
Hank Conger, C
Collin Cowgill, RF
J.B. Shuck, LF

SP: LH Hector Santiago (0-4, 4.44 ERA)

Alden

Don Baylor pays a visit to the Angels …

Don BaylorAngels hitting coach Don Baylor rejoined the team for the first time since suffering a fractured right femur while catching Vladimir Guerrero‘s ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day. Baylor, still in a walker, was in the clubhouse for about an hour prior to Tuesday’s game, meeting with the coaching staff and chatting with his hitters.

“Just having Don walk in, you can still feel his presence,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It’s great to get caught up with him. We miss him.”

Baylor said on April 7 that it would be an estimated four to six weeks before he can put weight on his right side, which would allow the 64-year-old to move a little bit more freely. That would fall anywhere between May 5 and 19, and Scioscia said the team hopes to get a better gauge for Baylor’s ability to be around the team more frequently by the time it returns from its next road trip, through Toronto and Philadelphia, on May 15.

Baylor, mostly resting at his home in La Quinta, Calif., wasn’t with the team for Wednesday’s series finale against the Indians, but Scioscia is “sure he’s going to be by” again during this nine-game homestand.

“I don’t know how many times,” Scioscia said. “He’s making progress, but he still has a ways to go before we’re going to see him in the dugout, and it’s still an effort for him to get in and move around a little bit.”

Baylor, Scioscia added, has been “as connected as you can be” and “definitely has some lineup opinions that are very helpful.”

Asked if Baylor would approve of batting Howie Kendrick leadoff on back-to-back days, Scioscia smirked and said: “He’s good with the direction we’re going.”

Indians (11-16)

Michael Bourn, CF
Mike Aviles, LF
Nick Swisher, 1B
Carlos Santana, 3B
Ryan Raburn, DH
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Yan Gomes, C
David Murphy, RF
Elliot Johnson, 2B

SP: RH Zach McAllister (3-1, 3.14 ERA)

Angels (13-13)

Howie Kendrick, 2B
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Raul Ibanez, DH
David Freese, 3B
Erick Aybar, SS
Hank Conger, C
Collin Cowgill, RF
J.B. Shuck, LF

SP: LH C.J. Wilson (3-2, 3.69 ERA)

  • Pujols’ home-run tracker is still up in Angel Stadium, flashing 501 as it sits beyond the bleachers in right-center field. The sign is expected to come down on Sunday.
  • Sean Burnett (recovery from August elbow surgery) threw 11 pitches in an extended Spring Training game in Tuesday and Scioscia said “his stuff looked good.” Burnett is expected to do the same again on Friday, as is Dane De La Rosa (right s/c joint irritation). “They’re making progress,” Scioscia said, “but they’re not really knocking on the door yet.”
  • Joe Smith is expected to be available if needed in a save situation on Wednesday, despite pitching in back-to-back games.
  • The wind is swirling once again today. Shuck said it was hard to get a read on fly balls last night. He felt like line drives were carrying, but balls were dying once they reached a certain elevation.

Alden

Some notes from the Angels’ 11-6 win …

Albert Pujols hit his 497th home run, Howie Kendrick went deep twice, five players had multiple extra-base hits and Jered Weaver bounced back with six innings of one-run ball — but John McDonald somehow stole the show, diving to his left and somehow completing a throw while tumbling, then ending the game on a heads-up, unassisted double play.

Here are some other side notes from Friday night’s win, with some numbers courtesy of the Angels’ PR department …

  • Pujols still doesn’t want to get into his chase for 500 homers. A reporter tried to ask him post game, and he cut off the question mid-sentence saying, “I’m not talking about it.”
  •  This was only Kendrick’s 13th career start at designated hitter. He said he hit in the cage twice during the game, but mainly likes to sit in the dugout “because it feels like you’re in the game.”
  • Ian Stewart fell a homer shy of the cycle, and was in the hole when the Angels made their last out on offense. And he wanted that at-bat. “Oh, I wanted it as much as any at-bat I’ve ever had,” Stewart said. “I think I would’ve tried for it, I guess. Just being honest. Depending on the score, of course.”
  • Josh Wall, the reason Ernesto Frieri even pitched the ninth inning, is the first Angel to be charged with five or more earned runs since Donnie Wall (no relation) on April 22, 2002, against the Mariners. He’s only the 13th pitcher (and first Angel) in the last 100 years to do that in his first game with a team.
  • The Angels’ 27 homers are the most through 16 games in team history.

Alden

Baylor could be back with team by April 28 …

Don BaylorAngels hitting coach Don Baylor is currently in physical therapy and manager Mike Scioscia is hopeful that he can rejoin the team when it returns from a three-city road trip, for the April 28 series opener against the Indians.

It’ll still be a while before Baylor can be in the dugout during games, and even longer before he can travel with the team. But Baylor, who suffered a fractured right femur while catching the ceremonial first pitch thrown by Vladimir Guerrero on Opening Day, can at least work with hitters and attend pregame hitters before home games in about 13 days.

“Don’s a tough guy,” Scioscia said. “He’s anxious to get back. We’ve texted a lot. He’s in touch with [hitting coaches] Dave [Hansen] and Paul [Sorrento] on a daily basis. He’s still keeping tabs on everything that’s going on.”

Baylor was discharged from UCI Medical Center on April 4, three days post-op. Based on his initial prognosis, the 64-year-old is still at least three weeks away from being able to put weight on his right side, so he’d probably be getting around on a walker upon returning to Angel Stadium.

Scioscia said he doesn’t “anticipate Don back in full force for a while.”

“Even being here and being in the dugout, getting involved; I’m not sure when that’s going to be.”

Some other pregame notes from Jackie Robinson Day …

  • Scioscia did not back off from his statements (and Howie Kendrick‘s) from Monday night regarding the bang-bang play at first base in the ninth inning: “We said it last night and we looked at it again yesterday. I don’t know what angle they were looking at, but the way it’s explained to us is the ball has to hit the back of a fielder’s mitt before you stop the play to see where the runner’s foot is. And Howie’s foot is clearly on the bag before that ball hits the back of [Daric] Barton’s mitt.
  • Asked if he believes David Freese, dropped to seventh after striking out twice in each of his last two games, is putting added pressure on himself, Scioscia said: “We’ve had those conversations with David and we monitored them very quickly. He’s very calm on the baseball field and I think he understands that he can play better than he did last year. Coming to a new team, there might be an element of that. But I think he’s very comfortable with the teammates, he’s very comfortable with what his role was on the club, and hopefully he’ll start to hit stride and get the big hits that he’s capable of getting.”
  • It appears, though it’s unofficial yet, that Dane De La Rosa was reaclled from Triple-A Salt Lake so that he could be placed on the 15-day disabled list. Scioscia said the injury “is not significant” and that De La Rosa will continue in his throwing program. … Sean Burnett is playing catch again today and is expected to go to Arizona to throw off a mound in a few days. … And yes, Ernesto Frieri is still the closer.

Athletics (9-4)

John Jaso, C
Jed Lowrie, SS
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Brandon Moss, 1B
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Alberto Callaspo, DH
Josh Reddick, RF
Craig Gentry, CF
Eric Sogard, 2B

SP: RH Dan Straily (1-1, 2.77 ERA)

Angels (6-7)

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

SP: RH Garrett Richards (2-0, 0.75 ERA)

Alden

ST Game 28: Angels 8, Cubs 4 …

Brandon LyonMost important thing: It actually took place in the backfields of the Angels’ Tempe Diablo Stadium complex, where Jered Weaver made his last start of the spring and was lights out against the Brewers’ Triple-A team, pitching seven shutout innings, giving up four hits, walking one and striking out eight in a 102-pitch outing. He’ll start Opening Day on five days’ rest.

Second-most important thing: Three outs away from snapping a six-game winning streak, the Angels plated six runs in the ninth inning, getting a leadoff homer from Ian Stewart, an RBI double by Collin Cowgill, an RBI single from Shawn O’Malley, a two-run single by Abel Baker and an RBI single from Stewart when he came up again.

Third-most important thing: Weaver’s start in a controlled environment made Tuesday a bullpen game. Brandon Lyon gave up a couple of runs while recording only one run in his second inning of work; Ernesto Frieri pitched his eighth straight scoreless inning of the spring; Fernando Salas had a clean inning to put his spring ERA at 3.00; and Michael Kohn gave up a run on two hits and a walk to put his spring ERA at 7.00.

Fourth-most important thing: All the everyday players except Howie Kendrick (stomach virus) and David Freese (tight quad) got a couple of plate appearances. Albert Pujols had a sac fly, Josh Hamilton walked and hit a double that almost left the ballpark, Raul Ibanez hit a solo homer and Mike Trout went 1-for-2 to finish Cactus League play with a .412 batting average.

Fifth-most important thing: Grant Green went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple to put his batting average at .362. John McDonald is officially the Angels’ utility infielder now, and it’s unlikely that Green makes the team. But he’s had a very nice spring at the plate and is getting better at shortstop.

Best defensive play (that I actually saw): Speaking of Green, he made a nice diving stop in the first inning while playing second base.

Best quote: Mike Scioscia on Freese being a late scratch: “He was ready to play. It was not even anything that would hamper him from taking ground balls. But the medical staff thought it would be prudent to have him take today off and tomorrow so he’ll be ready to play. It’s not even a concern.”

Angels’ record: 16-10-2

Alden

ST Game 27: Angels 11, Giants 4 …

Josh Hamilton, Hector SanchezMost important thing: Josh Hamilton hit two doubles, running really well on each of them, and scored a run. He’s clearly healthy, his timing looks to be back, and he’s batting .391. He looks ready.

Second-most important thing: Tyler Skaggs pitched around seven hits and three walks to give up only two runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 innings. His stuff looked much better than it did five days ago, when he gave up five runs in 4 1/3 innings against the White Sox.

Third-most important thing: The Angels have won six games in a row. I know Spring Training records mean next to nothing, but every starter looks on track, their key relievers have pitched well and the offense looks very good. Let’s see how it translates into the regular season.

Fourth-most important thing: One guy who hasn’t been clicking much is Raul Ibanez, but he got an RBI single and hit two balls hard on Monday. A good sign for someone who entered with only eight hits in 42 at-bats.

Fifth-most important thing: It’s getting close to decision time, and Grant Green (2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs, putting his batting average at .349) and J.B. Shuck (2-for-2 with a double and two RBIs, now batting at a .283 clip) had strong games.

Best defensive play (that I actually saw): Two good plays, actually — one to Skaggs for avoiding a broken bat that was flying at his face in the first, one for Howie Kendrick for diving up the middle to get a force out on a Michael Morse grounder.

Best quote: Mike Scioscia on the Angels’ winning streak: “We’re doing a lot of things that we’re going to need to do to win ballgames during the season. We’re playing defense, our pitching has been really, really strong all spring, and on the offensive side you can see the potential depth of our lineup when you have a guy like Howie hitting sixth or seventh. There’s some good things that we’ve been doing the last couple weeks and we just need to keep going these last few days; keep pushing and get ready for Opening Day.”

Angels’ record: 15-10-2

Alden

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