Results tagged ‘ Josh Hamilton ’

The midway point …

Rangers Angels Spring BaseballWe’ve reached the midway point of the Angels’ Cactus League schedule. Whether that came fast or slow is merely a matter of your own perspective. But we’re here. 14 down, 14 to go, with an off day (sort of) conveniently placed in the middle and the three-game, exhibition Freeway Series following the Angels’ stint in Arizona.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far …

Second base really is wide open: And I’m not really sure if that’s good. Thing is, none of the three candidates for the everyday role have really stuck out. Grant Green (7-for-23) hasn’t looked comfortable defensively, Josh Rutledge (7-for-31, eight strikeouts) hasn’t hit and Johnny Giavotella (5-for-20) hasn’t done anything to wow you on either end. One guy who has looked good to me is Taylor Featherston, who’s being groomed for the utility-infield job. I like his defense, I like his speed, and his bat may be starting to come around. But I view second base the same way I did at the start of camp: We’ll either see a lot of different guys play the position this year, or we’ll see the Angels go after someone (Chase Utley?).

The rotation order is not: It’s pretty clear that, barring injury, the Angels’ rotation will line up in this order to start the season: Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago, Andrew Heaney. Yes, the fifth spot was deemed an open competition between Santiago, Heaney and Nick Tropeano, but here’s the thing: (1) Garrett Richards is pretty much guaranteed to start the season on the disabled list, because the Angels are being extra, extra cautious with his rehab, as expected; (2) with Richards on the DL, it’s senseless to have both Tropeano and Heaney in your rotation and Santiago in the ‘pen, as opposed to having Heaney or Tropeano in Triple-A, because it messes with your starting-pitching depth; (3) Heaney and Tropeano have been pitching on the same day, but Heaney started the first one, pitched the home half of a split squad in the second and will start against the Dodgers on Thursday, with Tropeano relegated to pitching in a “B” game. It’s Heaney’s spot to lose, and he’s done nothing to lose it thus far.

A big decision with Santiago awaits: Richards will be ready some time around the middle of April, if his rehab continues to go well. At that point, the Angels will have a big decision to make with Santiago, who has posted a 3.58 ERA in 106 games (51 starts) in the Majors the last three years. Do they keep him in the rotation and send Heaney (or Tropeano) to Triple-A? Do they move him to the bullpen, even though he seems somewhat redundant with Cesar Ramos (another lefty who pitches multiple innings and doesn’t profile as a left-on-left specialist)? Do they use him as trade bait? I can see any of those three scenarios taking place, but I’d be somewhat shocked if they sent him to Triple-A, like they did in May of last season.

The Angels will have two lineups: Assuming Rutledge gets the first crack at the second-base job (that’s what it’s looked like all along), this looks like the lineup against righties: Calhoun/Trout/Pujols/Joyce/Freese/Aybar/Cron/Iannetta/Rutledge. This looks like the one against lefties, on most days: Calhoun/Trout/Pujols/Freese/Aybar/Cron/Joyce/Iannetta/Rutledge. Mike Scioscia still needs to figure out how often he’ll use the right-handed-hitting Collin Cowgill to sit Matt Joyce against lefties, and whether he’ll have a left-handed bat to sit C.J. Cron against tough righties. And that brings me to my next point …

Efren Navarro looks like a good fit: I didn’t have Navarro in my projected Opening Day roster at the start of Cactus League games, mainly because I felt they’d keep Giavotella (out of options) to maintain as many options as possible for the second-base job. But Navarro looks like an ideal fit for the last bench spot. He’s a patient left-handed hitter who can sit Cron against tough righties, he plays great defense at first base and he’s more than adequate in the corner-outfield spots. Getting 10 hits in his first 26 at-bats hasn’t hurt, either.

Cory Rasmus won’t be a starting pitcher: Well, he won’t be in the traditional sense. Scioscia said recently that Rasmus won’t be stretched out to the 100-, 110-pitch range, but will still be stretched out somewhat in case the Angels need some length. This only validates what I anticipated all along: Rasmus will crack the Opening Day bullpen as a long reliever, basically being used in the same role he pitched in down the stretch last year. It’s a nice role for him.

Mike Trout is really good: He has 12 hits in his first 22 at-bats, and three of them have gone over fences. He also has the same amount of strikeouts as he has stolen bases (3). What else do you want?

Albert Pujols looks good: Several members of the Angels feel Pujols is poised for an even better year now that he’s even healthier in his lower half, and he’s looked good so far, going 8-for-25 and hitting the ball hard to right-center field. The latter is key for him.

David Freese is going to be really important: I think he’s the Angels’ most important everyday player, because they’ll be counting on him to provide additional pop in the middle with Howie Kendrick and Josh Hamilton not there and because he’ll probably be playing all nine innings now that the Angels don’t have a natural defensive sub. Of the four second base/utility infield candidates, Featherston has looked the best at third, but he hasn’t played above Double-A, so I doubt the Angels will be putting him in games with a one-run lead in the ninth.

Richards still throws hard: Besides occasionally having a hard time burying the breaking ball, Richards’ stuff has looked about as explosive as it usually does this spring, which is a very good sign.

Cron looks good: Sometimes he’ll strikeout chasing the fastball up near his head. You’re going to get that with Cron, who chased the same percentage of pitches outside the strike zone as Hamilton last season. But Cron has also driven the ball well this spring, hitting long home runs to left and some well-struck doubles to right-center. If Freese is the No. 1 most important member of the lineup, Cron is 1B. He’s the wild card.

It’s Lindstrom’s job to lose: if Rasmus is in the Opening Day bullpen, then only one spot is open (the others go to Huston Street, Joe Smith, Mike Morin, Fernando Salas and Ramos). Matt Lindstrom looks like an ideal candidate for that final spot, because he still throws pretty hard (few others in the ‘pen do), has a good track record and is an XX(B) free agent, which means he has the right to opt out of his contract (or make an additional $100,000 as a retention bonus) if not on the Opening Day roster. But he has to earn it. And aside from giving up two runs on three hits on March 12 — while pitching in the inning when Will Ferrell played center field — Lindstrom has looked good. If Lindstrom doesn’t make it, I expect Vinnie Pestano to be in the ‘pen. Pestano has options, though.

Alden

Smith returning from lower leg stiffness …

Rob Manfred couldn’t comment on Josh Hamilton‘s situation when asked about it from reporters at Dodgers camp on Monday morning. But Major League Baseball’s new Commissioner did state that he will be the one deciding on the length of a potential suspension from what sources say was a drug of abuse.

“I’m the decision maker on this one,” Manfred said.

The fact Hamilton is rehabbing from surgery on his right AC joint, and is in Houston rehabbing instead of being in Spring Training with the Angels, makes the timing of an eventual decision “a little more relaxed,” Manfred added.

Here’s the lineup against Hamilton’s former team, the Rangers …

Collin Cowgill, RF
Josh Rutledge, 3B
Matt Joyce, LF
C.J. Cron, DH
Chris Iannetta, C
Efren Navarro, 1B
Taylor Featherston, SS
Johnny Giavotella, 2B
Daniel Robertson, CF

SP: RH Jered Weaver

Angels setup man Joe Smith will make his Cactus League debut on Monday, after taking his time to make sure he was fully recovered from lower leg stiffness. If he takes just one day off in between the rest of the spring, Smith would make 10 appearances (including Wednesday’s off day, which he’s slated to pitch in). Typically, Smith likes to make eight appearances to feel ready.

“My arm’s still in shape,” Smith said. “I’ve still obviously been doing stuff. It just hasn’t been on the mound or game related. I’m not worried about the time. I know my body’s ready. My leg’s feeling just like normal. It was just trying to get that tightness out.”

Some additional notes …

  • The Angels made three more Spring Training cuts on Monday morning, with right-handed relievers Danny Reynolds, Jeremy McBryde and Frank Herrmann heading to Minor League camp.
  • The Angels’ annual Prospect Game – which is, of course, an intrasquad game with all their prospects – will take place Wednesday, March 25, at Tempe Diablo Stadium at 6 p.m. MT. It’s open to the public.
  • Fernando Salas and Cory Rasmus are also slated to pitch today. Mike Scioscia said Rasmus won’t be stretched out to the 100-pitch range this spring, so he won’t be treated as a traditional starter, but they’re making sure he has his length in case they need him for the rotation. I expect him to be in the bullpen as a long reliever to start the season.
  • Hector Santiago felt good a day after getting hit by a comebacker on the inside of his left forearm on Sunday, and Scioscia said he’ll throw his normal between-starts bullpen in anticipation of starting again on Friday.

Alden

Dipoto: Hamilton ‘getting after it’ in injury rehab …

The Angels are still waiting word from Major League Baseball on a likely suspension for Josh Hamilton, who sources said had a drug-related relapse late in the offseason. There’s no sense for when a decision could come down, and general manager Jerry Dipoto still can’t comment on it.

For what it’s worth, though, Hamilton continues to rehab from surgery and is progressing towards baseball activities.

“What I understand from the [physical therapy] end of things is that he’s in there, he’s getting after it, he’s recovering very well,” Dipoto said. “I believe he’s taken a round of batting practice already. I don’t know if that’s ahead of schedule or on schedule, but he’s gone out and tried it. From what I understand, he’s recovering well and that part of the exercises is a net positive so far.”

That rehab, from surgery to his right AC joint in early February, could be meaningless, depending on how long MLB decides to suspend Hamilton. The Angels may eventually have to go find a bat, and will have the money to do so. But at the moment, Dipoto feels comfortable with the group he has and said he hasn’t really checked in on anybody.

Asked if he believes bats will be readily available in-season, Dipoto said, “It’s too early to tell. It’s really early. Even in the spring it’s really early. But there’s always guys available. It’s just a matter of what you have to give and what you’re willing to give. Right now we have a very flexible roster; we like our team. We’re not worried about the way the offense lines up.”

Daniel Robertson, CF
Collin Cowgill, RF
Matt Joyce, LF
David Freese, DH
C.J. Cron, 1B
Josh Rutledge, SS
Alex Yarbrough, 2B
Drew Butera, C
Taylor Featherston, 3B

SP: LH Hector Santiago

  • Garrett Richards threw to hitters in a live batting-practice session for the second time today, throwing somewhere in the vicinity of 40 pitches and taking a break at the midway point to simulate his normal time between innings. Dipoto watched the session and said his command is “pretty much” where it needs to be. “Physically, he’s probably ahead of 99 percent of the pitchers in Major League Baseball right now,” Dipoto added. “But we have to make concessions for where he’s been and take it day by day.” Richards could pitch in a game early next week.
  • Roberto Baldoquin is currently stuck in Haiti. The Cuban infielder initially established residency there, had to go back on Friday and has basically been sequestered in his hotel room while the government is in shutdown mode. He has all his paperwork to obtain his passport and come to the U.S., he just needs to have it physically in hand and can’t until the situation in Haiti gets settled. It could be any day, it could be a while.
  • Huston Street, Fernando Salas, Mike Morin, Vinnie Pestano, Jose Alvarez, Frank Herrmann, Danny Reynolds and Scott Snodgress are also slated to pitch on Tuesday. Joe Smith will make his first appearance later this week.
  • Freese is at DH because the Angels need to find someone who can be the backup third baseman. They don’t have a natural fit there at the moment. Featherston could help his chances greatly by showing well there this spring.

Alden

ST Game No. 1: Angels 3, Brewers 2 …

Brewers Angels Spring BaseballMost important thing: Mike Trout swung at the very first pitch he saw and flied out to deep right-center field, then talked about how he wants to be more aggressive early in counts in hopes of avoiding a high strikeout total. Maybe not super significant, but hey, it’s Mike Trout.

Second-most important thing: C.J. Cron lined a double and a single to the opposite field against opposing right-handed pitchers. The young, right-handed power hitters is looking to get everyday at-bats at designated hitter with Josh Hamilton‘s situation so unclear. Seeing the ball well against righties is a good start.

Third-most important thing: Josh Rutledge started the game and hit an RBI single.

Fourth-most important thing: Hector Santiago threw two scoreless innings and said he was able to slow everything down mentally in an 11-pitch second inning.

Fifth-most important thing: New third base prospect Kyle Kubitza struck out both times he came to bat, then saw a sharp grounder go under his glove in a backhand attempt.

Best defensive play (that I actually saw): To end the first inning, Chris Iannetta fired to second and picked off Brewers leadoff hitter Scooter Gennett, who was ultimately tagged out in a rundown.

Quotable: Mike Scioscia, when asked what stood out to him most about the first game: “I thought Chris looked really good behind the plate, and I thought Carlos Perez looked good behind the plate. On the infield, [Johnny] Giavotella and Rutledge looked comfortable on their side. And I think Jose Alvarez looked like he was attacking the zone well.”

Taco Power Rankings (updated every Thursday): 1. Los Taquitos, 2. The Mission, 3. El Hefe, 4. Tortas El Rey, 5. Sombrero’s Mexican Grill, 6. Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, 7. Comedor Guadelajara, 8. Senor Taco, 9. Carolina’s Mexican Food, 10. Poliberto’s Taco Shop, 11. Salty Senorita

Alden

We’ll start with 61 …

Angels Spring BaseballThe Angels’ Spring Training roster is officially at 63 players. One of those guys is Josh Hamilton, who has spent the spring in Houston and is awaiting a potential suspension from Major League Baseball. The other is Tyler Skaggs, who will spend the entire year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

As for the 61 others?

With the Angels’ Cactus League schedule starting Thursday, I’ve categorized each of those 61 players based on where they stand in Spring Training. Hopefully it’ll help make everything a lot easier as you watch these games and see all those high uniform numbers march to the field.

First, a few points worth making …

  • Alex Yarbrough is included in one of the competitions, but it’s a bit of a reach. He doesn’t really have a shot at being the starting second baseman, but Mike Scioscia (pictured) said they’re trying the young second baseman out at third base, first base and left field to see if he has some versatility, so there’s a chance he can make the team as a utility guy. Otherwise, he’d be listed as a prospect.
  • Backup catcher is listed as a competition, but Drew Butera is out of options and is pretty much a lock.
  • Johnny Giavotella is also out of options.
  • Garrett Richards is expected to start the season on the disabled list, so two rotation spots are up for grabs.
  • If Hector Santiago doesn’t crack the rotation — I expect him to if Richards is starting the season on the DL — he’ll be used out of the bullpen.
  • Cory Rasmus is listed among the competitors for the starting rotation because he’ll be stretched out this spring, but I think it’s a lot more likely that he makes the Opening Day roster as a reliever.
  • In tune with all that, I pretty much consider the the last two rotation spots a three-man race between Santiago, Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano, but hey, anything can happen.
  • Matt Lindstrom is an XX(B) free agent, which in most cases is a player who has six years of Major League service time and signs a Minor League contract. Because of that, he can opt out of his deal (or be paid a $100,000 retention bonus) if he isn’t on the Opening Day roster.
  • There’s a good chance three of the five guys vying for the second base/utility job make the team.
  • C.J. Cron is pretty much a lock and I expect him to get a lot of at-bats at designated hitter, especially against left-handed pitching. Collin Cowgill should also find his way into the lineup a lot of times.
  • Cracking the Opening Day roster is basically a nominal distinction. Rosters change a gazillion times over the course of a season.

Angels Spring BaseballLOCKS

Lineup

17: Chris Iannetta, C
05: Albert Pujols, 1B
06: David Freese, 3B
02: Erick Aybar, SS
20: Matt Joyce, LF
27: Mike Trout, CF (pictured)
56: Kole Calhoun, RF

Rotation

36: Jered Weaver, RH
43: Garrett Richards, RH
33: C.J. Wilson, LH
52: Matt Shoemaker, RH

Bullpen

16: Huston Street, CL
38: Joe Smith, SU
64: Mike Morin, MR
59: Fernando Salas, MR
37: Cesar Ramos, MR

Bench

07: Collin Cowgill, OF

Angels Spring BaseballCOMPETING

Second baseman/utility infielder

08: Taylor Featherston, 2B/SS
12: Johnny Giavotella, 2B/3B/LF
10: Grant Green, 2B/LF
13: Josh Rutledge, 2B/SS
81: Alex Yarbrough, 2B/3B/1B/LF

Starting rotation

58: Jose Alvarez, LH
28: Andrew Heaney, LH (pictured)
46: Cory Rasmus, RH
51: Drew Rucinski, RH
53: Hector Santiago, LH
35: Nick Tropeano, RH

Bullpen

68: Cam Bedrosian, RH
41: Frank Herrmann, RH
22: Matt Lindstrom, RH
47: Ryan Mattheus, RH
60: Jeremy McBryde, RH
63: Vinnie Pestano, RH
65: Danny Reynolds, RH
71: Atahualpa Severino, LH
73: Scott Snodgress, LH

Additional bat

24: C.J. Cron, 1B, RHH
54: Roger Kieschnick, LF/RF, LHH
39: Marc Krauss, 1B/LF/RF, LHH
57: Alfredo Marte, LF/CF/RF, RHH
19: Efren Navarro, 1B/LF/RF, LHH
44: Daniel Robertson, LF/CF/RF, RHH

Backup catcher

22: Drew Butera, RHH
99: Carlos Perez, RHH
98: Jett Bandy, RHH

Angels Spring BaseballMINORS BOUND

Prospects

84: Trevor Gott, RP
75: Kyle Kubitza, 3B (pictured)
86: Sean Newcomb, SP
85: Nate Smith, SP
74: Eric Stamets, SS

Veterans

97: Charles Cutler, C/1B/LF
96: Stephen McGee, C
79: Edgar Ibarra, RP
87: Sherman Johnson, 2B/3B
80: D’Arby Myers, LF/CF/RF
40: Alex Sanabia, SP
88: Albert Suarez, SP
49: Ryan Wheeler, 1B/3B
72: Adam Wilk, SP
48: Jackson Williams, C

PROJECTED OPENING DAY ROSTER (I reserve the right to change my mind)

Starters: Weaver, Wilson, Shoemaker, Santiago, Heaney
Relievers: Street, Smith, Morin, Salas, Ramos, Lindstrom, Rasmus
Lineup: Iannetta, Pujols, Rutledge, Freese, Aybar, Joyce, Trout, Calhoun, Cron
Bench: Butera, Featherston, Giavotella, Cowgill

Photos courtesy of The Associated Press.

Alden

Santiago to start Thursday, then Weaver-CJ-Shoe

Hector Santiago will start the Angels’ Cactus League opener against the Brewers on Thursday, Mike Scioscia announced. Following him, respectively, will be Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Matt Shoemaker, which means that in all likelihood, Weaver-Wilson-Shoemaker will be the rotation order for the season-opening three-game series in Seattle April 6-8.

The Angels don’t necessarily order their starting pitchers based on righty or lefty; they like to make sure they don’t connect the guys who have the best chance of pitching deep in games, which is perhaps why Weaver and Shoemaker aren’t back-to-back.

Santiago will compete with Nick Tropeano and Andrew Heaney for a rotation spot, and there’s a good chance two of the three crack the Opening Day roster with Garrett Richards likely to start the season on the disabled list. Cory Rasmus, Drew Rucinski, Jose Alvarez and the non-roster invitees are dark-horse candidates to crack the rotation, as well.

Scioscia said he expects all of his everyday guys — namely, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Erick Aybar, Kole Calhoun, David Freese, Chris Iannetta and Matt Joyce — to play in the Cactus League opener from Tempe Diablo Stadium. Starters will go two to three innings the first time through the order.

Weaver would be on track to make five Cactus League starts, then be on five days’ rest before Opening Day, though he could opt for the extra day of rest earlier so that he’s on a normal schedule for his first start of the season. Scioscia doesn’t like to announce his Opening Day starter until the very end, but Weaver is on track to start his franchise-record seventh Opening Day (and sixth in a row).

Some other notes from Wednesday’s workout …

  • Tony Clark, executive director of the MLBPA, couldn’t comment on the Josh Hamilton situation because it’s an ongoing process and doesn’t know when Major League Baseball would announce what looks like a likely suspension. Clark did say, “What I hope for is support for Josh.”
  • The MLBPA was visiting Angels camp as its last stop in Arizona, and the two main topics of discussion were pace-of-play initiatives and a reported tobacco ban in California. Hamilton didn’t come up during the one-hour meeting, Clark said.
  • Richards is throwing his sixth bullpen session on Wednesday morning and Scioscia said he’ll simulate coming off the mound to cover first base for the first time.
  • Lefty reliever Atahualpa Severino has finally arrived in camp after having visa issues in the Dominican Republic. Cuban middle infielder Roberto Baldoquin could report over the weekend.

Alden

Angels still awaiting word on Josh Hamilton …

The Angels don’t anticipate getting word on a potential Josh Hamilton suspension on Friday, which could mean that the earliest something comes down — potentially — is Monday. Still, a lot of things are up in the air at this point.

“Right now there’s no more information than we had yesterday,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I don’t know where the process is. … We’ve got a lot of things on our plate that we have to take care of. That’s going to happen on its own time. We can’t let it affect us.”

Hamilton met with Major League Baseball officials at the Commissioner’s Office in New York on Wednesday, the Angels confirmed, and CBSSports.com reported that the meeting was regarding a drug-related relapse Hamilton had during the offseason.

Contrary to what has previously been written, Hamilton likely would not be treated as a first-time offender if he violated the Joint Drug Agreement because he was on the Rays’ 40-man roster when he failed his first drug test in 2003. From February 2004 to November 2005, Hamilton was suspended four separate times by MLB.

First-time offenders get placed in a drug treatment program. A first failure to comply with the program is a suspension from 15-25 games, a second is 25-50 games, a third is 50-75 games and a fourth is at least a full season. As stated in Section 7D of the JDA, “Any subsequent failure to comply by a player shall result in the commissioner imposing further discipline.”

Hamilton’s situation is tricky, though, because he hasn’t had a drug-related relapse for about a decade and, aside from alcohol-related relapses in 2009 and ’12, has complied with MLB since being reinstated in June 2006. FOXSports.com reported Friday that Hamilton’s suspension would likely be at least 25 games but less than a full season. But a lot of variables are at play, with new commissioner Rob Manfred having a say and the MLB Players Association perhaps getting involved.

MLB refused comment on Hamilton’s situation again Friday, and the Angels have yet to provide the reason for Hamilton’s meeting in New York.

  • With John McDonald no longer here, and none of the candidates for the utility-infield job having much experience at third base, there’s a good chance David Freese won’t be subbed out late in games this year. “If David Freese doesn’t have to be subbed out, it helps us a lot in some situations where maybe a game is tied and you’ve taken him out of the game,” Scioscia said. “To say we are or aren’t doing it now, it’s too early.”
  • Among the guys who have stuck out early in camp are Sean Newcomb, Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano and Matt Lindstrom (more on his situation here). “When you see a guy like Newcomb up close, you get a real sense of the talent,” Scioscia said. “The ball just explodes out of his hands.”
  • Garrett Richards looked “really good” in his 50-pitch bullpen on Thursday, Scioscia said. Mike Butcher mentioned Thursday that his next bullpen would likely be Sunday, but there’s no certainty yet. Scioscia said “at most he’ll have two days off,” which is a good sign.

Alden

Hamilton meeting with MLB over disciplinary issue …

Josh Hamilton is in New York on Wednesday, meeting with the Commissioner’s Office regarding a disciplinary issue, the Angels confirmed. The team declined to give specifics on the meeting and aren’t sure when they’ll hear back from Major League Baseball. The Los Angeles Times first reported the news.

Hamilton wasn’t assigned a locker during Spring Training and has spent the spring in Houston, working with a physical therapist while rehabbing from surgery to his right AC joint. The Angels haven’t been certain when he’ll report to Spring Training and haven’t been able to guarantee that he’d even report to Spring Training at all.

Hamilton’s agent, Michael Moye, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Hamilton is in the third season of a five-year, $125 million contract and has posted an undewhelming .255/.316/.426 slash line in 240 games in his first two seasons of his Angels, looking nothing like the five-time All-Star from his Texas days. The 33-year-old spent all of September rehabbing ailments to his right shoulder, chest and ribcage, then went 0-for-13 in the American League Division Series and was told that extra time off could counteract the need for surgery.

Once he started swinging hard again, though, Hamilton continued to feel pain in his arthritic shoulder, prompting the need for surgery in early February.

The Angels were resigned to the fact Hamilton would start the season on the disabled list and have acknowledged that his rehab could spill into May. Now they have no clue when they’ll get their high-priced slugger in the lineup.

Alden

Trout arrives, focused on a title …

troutMike 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.”

Alden

Richards looks ‘outstanding’ in third bullpen …

Garrett Richards completed his third bullpen session on Monday morning, throwing 40 pitches – four-seam fastballs and two-seam fastballs – from the stretch at the Angels’ Spring Training complex.

“Outstanding,” Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said. “He looked really good.”

Richards is full weight-bearing on his surgically repaired left knee, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he’s still about 10 days away from taking part in pitchers’ fielding practice and won’t be close to pitching in Cactus League games the first time through the rotation.

Before doing that, Richards still needs to throw from the windup, still needs to work on fielding his position, still needs to incorporate his off-speed pitches and still needs to face hitters in a controlled environment.

“There’s a progression that a pitcher needs to do to get ready for a season,” Scioscia said. “He’s not in that progression to get ready for a season. He’s still in rehab mode, so we’ll see how that goes.”

Some additional notes from Monday’s workout …

  • Josh Rutledge, Johnny Giavotella, Taylor Featherston and Grant Green are competing for jobs as the starting second baseman and utility infielder, but the Angels are very open to the possibility of carrying three of them on the Opening Day roster.
  • Drew Butera, in competition for the job as backup catcher, has been doing all of his drills alongside starter Chris Iannetta in the early part of Spring Training. Butera is out of options and has the most experience among the candidates, seemingly making him a favorite for the job.
  • Asked if he’d like to keep Albert Pujols at the same range of games at first base as last year (116), Scioscia said: “It’s just going to be based on how he feels. We’re a better team with him at first base, but realistically, we know how important he is hitting in the middle of our lineup.”
  • Angels first-base coach Alfredo Griffin saw 20-year-old Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin train in the Dominican Republic before the club gave him an $8 million signing bonus and compared him to Jose Iglesias. “I think he can stick at second and short,” Griffin said.
  • There’s still no update on Josh Hamilton, who’s in the early stages of his recovery from surgery to his right AC joint. “He’s in Houston doing his physical therapy,” Scioscia said. “Same timetable we had. It’s just open-ended right now.”

Alden

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