Results tagged ‘ Josh Hamilton ’

Angels lose Calhoun to an ankle injury …

Angels right fielder and leadoff man Kole Calhoun twisted his right ankle after crossing first base on an 11th-inning groundout on Tuesday night and is headed to the 15-day disabled list, where he’ll join cleanup-hitting left fielder Josh Hamilton.

Leading off the bottom of the 11th of an eventual 10-9 loss to the A’s, Calhoun hit a grounder to second base and crossed first base just fine. But he caught his right foot on a soft spot just beyond the bag and had to be helped off the field.

“I just rolled it and it hurt real bad,” said Calhoun, who was on crutches postgame. “It’s just a freak thing, you know?”

Calhoun went 3-for-6 with a two-run homer and a key ninth-inning double as the Angels suffered back-to-back losses to their division rivals, and was 7-for-15 in his last three games.

In Triple-A Salt Lake, the Angels have left-handed-hitting outfielders Matt Long (.270 batting average so far this season) and Brennan Boesch (.250) they can call up. Each would have to be added to the 40-man roster, which is currently full. The Angels could also try to acquire versatile outfielder Sam Fuld, who was designated for assignment by the A’s on Saturday.

Asked about Angels manager Mike Scioscia saying he’ll be going on the DL, Calhoun said: ““It’s disappointing. Nothing’s solidified right now, but we’ll see what happens.”

Alden

Hamilton can start swinging again by Friday …

joshAngels outfielder Josh Hamilton was back at the ballpark for the first time on Monday, three days after undergoing surgery on his left thumb that’s expected to keep him out 6-8 weeks.

Hamilton will have his stitches removed on Friday, while also getting the hard cast around his left thumb replaced with a removable splint. He can’t do any rehab with his finger until May 2, but he can start running, lifting, swinging off a tee with his bottom hand — the most important hand for a hitter — and “doing all the things I need to do to keep in shape” when he gets the stitches removed on Friday.

Hamilton, who got back to about 240 pounds over the offseason, isn’t concerned about losing muscle during his rehab, saying: “It’s only a week, and then I’ll get my stitches out and I’ll be able to start doing leg workouts and body workouts. You can do a lot of stuff without gripping a barbell, so I don’t see that being a problem.”

He won’t travel with the team in its upcoming three-city trip through Detroit, Washington and New York, and the Angels are planning to have Hamilton go to Arizona to do some baseball activities while they’re in Toronto from May 9-11.

“I’m not going to put a time frame on it,” Hamilton said of his recovery. “I’m just going to do what I need to do as far as listening to the doctor as far as keeping it stable for the first two or three weeks, and then after that, once they tell me it’s healed, I’ll start doing rehab and being aggressive with it.”

Hamilton suffered a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament and also a torn capsule when he banged his left thumb into first base during a headfirst slide in the seventh inning at Safeco Field on Wednesday. It was a major loss for an Angels lineup that could be without its cleanup hitter and main power supply from the left slide until June. And it’s a major blow to Hamilton, who was named co-American League Player of the Week to start the season and was batting .444/.545/.741 through his first 33 plate appearances.

“I felt like my old self – my 2010, ’11, ’12 self,” Hamilton said in a press conference prior to the series opener against the A’s from Angel Stadium. “That’s why it’s my bummer, but there’s no reason why I can’t come back and still feel like that.”

Hamilton said he “reassessed” his headfirst slide as soon as he saw the replay, and in hindsight understands shouldn’t have done it. Asked if he’ll avoid sliding headfirst into first base moving forward, Hamilton, who has done it several times throughout his career, said: “I ain’t gonna make any promises.”

“What I’ve learned is no matter what you do, if something goes bad, you’re going to catch criticism,” Hamilton said. “When it goes good, no big deal. It just helps you guys write about a bunch of other stuff, so, you’re welcome.”

Some pregame notes …

  • Sean Burnett is with the team at home and was planning to play catch on Monday, after being shut down after his simulated game in Arizona on April 5. Burnett said he had some swelling around his left elbow that has since subsided. Nobody really knew the cause of it, but the lefty reliever plans to get off a mound again in a couple of days and doesn’t believe he’ll have to undergo surgery again.
  • David Freese (.458 OPS) started the season batting ahead of Howie Kendrick (.621), but over Freese’s last two starts — he sat on Sunday — Angels manager Mike Scioscia has flipped his two right-handed hitters. Asked what’s wrong with Freese, Scioscia said: “I think he’s trying to get comfortable in the box. There are some things I think he wants to get comfortable with in his stance to find some things and let him get to pitches easier. He’s working hard with Dave Hansen and Paul Sorrento on that. I think he just needs at-bats right now. But this guy’s going to hit. David’s going to hit.”
  • Kole Calhoun batted ninth on Saturday and fifth on Sunday, but he was right back in the leadoff spot against a right-hander on Monday, after his first multi-hit game of the season. My sense is Scioscia will hit Calhoun there against righties and Collin Cowgill at leadoff against lefties, at least for now.
  • On Dane De La Rosa, back in Triple-A after his velocity was surprisingly low in his 2014 debut on Saturday, Scioscia said he’s “getting evaluated on some medical things and having some tests.” “He feels good, he says he feels healthy, so I think you just want to explore why some of his velo is down,” Scioscia added. “Once he’s ready, I know he’s going to get right back on the horse. And Dane De La Rosa is going to be a big part of our bullpen. It’s just going to take a little more time.”

Athletics (8-4)

Craig Gentry, CF
Jed Lowrie, SS
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Derek Norris, C
Alberto Callaspo, DH
Nick Punto, 2B
Josh Reddick, RF
Daric Barton, 1B

SP: RHP Jesse Chavez (0-0, 1.38 ERA)

Angels (6-6)

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

SP: LHP Hector Santiago (0-2, 7.71 ERA)

Alden

Hamilton (left thumb) likely to be out 6-8 weeks

Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton, one of the hottest hitters in baseball, is expected to have surgery on his left thumb that could put him on the shelf until June.

An MRI on Hamilton’s left thumb, which he injured while sliding headfirst into first base in the seventh inning at Safeco Field on Tuesday, revealed that he suffered a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament along with a torn capsule.

Hamilton has already been told by the Angels’ medical staff that he will likely undergo surgery, which carries an estimated recovery time of 6-8 weeks, but it won’t be official until he meets with Dr. Steven Shin on Friday.

With Hamilton headed for the disabled list, outfielder J.B. Shuck has been recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake.

“The news sucks,” Hamilton said prior to Wednesday’s game against the Mariners. “Any time you play and you’re playing hard and you’re having fun, the last thing you want to do is do something that’s going to cost you to miss time and maybe hurts your team in the long run. If I could see a future, obviously I wouldn’t do it. But in the moment, when my mind and my body tells me to do something and react some way, I’ve always done it. That’s what I do. I can’t change that.”

Hamilton – delayed earlier in Spring Training with a strained left calf – was finally starting to display the tools that made him a five-time All-Star in Texas, entering Tuesday’s game with a .500 batting average, a couple of homers and a team-leading six walks.

But he banged his left thumb up against the first-base bag while trying to beat out a slow roller to shortstop, had a hard time throwing in the outfield, didn’t feel good while taking dry swings in the batting cage and asked Angels manager Mike Scioscia to pinch-hit for him with two on and none out in the ninth inning of an eventual 5-3 loss.

This is the first time he’s injured his thumb.

“When I got in the dugout, it didn’t feel like anything different than I’ve had before in terms of a jammed finger. When I went out to the outfield and gripped the ball and threw the first three 30 feet to the left of where I was aiming, that was an indication something might be wrong.”

Hamilton is confident he can pick up where he left off because the thumb injury allows him to continue to work out and even swing the bat one-handed. Injuring the left thumb, as opposed to the right thumb, is more ideal for a left-handed hitter, Hamilton noted.

“I don’t plan on being as far behind as people think I’ll be,” Hamilton said. “Everyone thought I’d be far behind in Spring Training without as many at-bats. It’ll be good.”

With Hamilton gone, I expect Collin Cowgill (RHH) and Shuck (LHH) to platoon at left field and leadoff, with Kole Calhoun sliding down in the order to give the middle of the lineup more pop. But I’ll know more when Scioscia talks pregame. Here are today’s lineups …

Angels (3-5)

Cowgill, LF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, DH
David Freese, 3B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Calhoun, RF
Chris Iannetta, C
Ian Stewart, 1B
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: RH Garrett Richards (1-0, 1.80 ERA)

Mariners (5-2)

Abraham Almonte, CF
Brad Miller, SS
Robinson Cano, 2B
Justin Smoak, 1B
Corey Hart, DH
Kyle Seager, 3B
Logan Morrison, RF
Dustin Ackley, LF
Mike Zunino, C

SP: LH Roenis Elias (0-0, 1.80 ERA)

Alden

Burnett ‘needs a little bit of work’ …

Sean Burnett, Mike SciosciaSean Burnett threw a second simulated game on Saturday and felt good coming out of it, “But he needs a little bit of work,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of his rehabbing lefty reliever.

Burnett — recovering from August elbow surgery and coming off a season that was limited to 13 appearances — has been throwing bullpen sessions since March 13, though he had a minor setback due to a bad reaction to an arthritis shot on March 21. Saturday’s sim game, in Arizona, was his second, occurring three days after he threw his first at Angel Stadium, but he isn’t ready to venture out on a rehab assignment just yet.

“He needs to be in a controlled environment right now,” Scioscia said.

Asked if it’s realistic that Burnett can be back by the end of April, Scioscia said: “I think the next 10 days will give us a little bit better indication of what’s happening. He hasn’t gotten close enough to really make a call on how close he’s going to be and how long.”

Pior to Wednesday, the last time Burnett had even faced hitters was in a regular-season game on May 26 of last year.

“He really hasn’t done this basically for a year,” Scioscia said of Burnett, in the final guaranteed season of a two-year, $8 million contract. “You’re not going to all of a sudden feel good, throw a couple ‘pens and go out there and pitch in a game. There’s a progression, and right now he’s really going through what you’d hope would be Spring Training for him. So it’s going to take a little bit of time.”

Day game tomorrow, so Raul Ibanez and Kole Calhoun get a break against the left-hander, with Josh Hamilton sliding down to fifth …

Angels (1-3)

Collin Cowgill, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
David Freese, DH
Hamilton, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Chris Iannetta, C
Erick Aybar, SS
John McDonald, 3B

SP: LH Tyler Skaggs (0-0, -.– ERA)

Astros (2-2)

Jonathan Villar, SS
Robbie Grossman, CF
Jose Altuve, 2B
Jesus Guzman, LF
Chris Carter, 1B
Matt Dominguez, DH
L.J. Hoes, RF
Carlos Corporan, C
Marwin Gonzalez, 3B

SP: LH Dallas Keuchel (0-0, -.– ERA)

Alden

Door is open for a fast Angels start …

A strong belief in one’s roster is usually followed by a phrase like “as long as we stay healthy.”

Well, the American League West is anything but to start the season. The Rangers are littered with injuries, with starter Derek Holland (right knee), second baseman Jurickson Profar (right shoulder) and catcher Geovany Soto (knee) all out until midseason and Yu Darvish (neck) starting the year on the disabled list. A’s Opening Day starter Jarrod Parker will miss all of 2014 after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery and A.J. Griffin (right flexor muscle strain) is on the shelf. And the Mariners — in town the next three days — have two starters on the DL in Hisashi Iwakuma (right middle finger) and Taijuan Walker (right shoulder).

The door is wide open for the Angels.

Mike Scioscia, Jerry DipotoThey’ve had the fourth-worst April winning percentage the last two years, crippling any chances they had of reaching the playoffs. But of the Angels’ 27 games through the month of April this year, only nine will come against teams that made the playoffs in 2013. Four will come against an Astros team that has lost 100 games three straight years (though, granted, they won 10 of 19 games against the Angels last year), and three will come against the Mets, who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006. But there’s one really tough swing — a three-city trip from April 18-27, which will see the Angels visit the Tigers, Nationals and Yankees.

The Angels will also be off in each of their first six Thursdays. Yes, you’d rather have the days off at the end of the year, but a fast start is crucial this year, and those off days certainly won’t hurt that cause.

In hopes of facilitating a better start, the Angels tweaked their Spring Training program. Position players took more swings and focused more on situational hitting. Starting pitchers were stretched out earlier. Relievers attacked their bullpens more aggressively. Live BP was re-introduced after a one-year hiatus. And more shifting is taking place defensively, after the Angels went from 2nd to 27th in Defensive Runs Saved over the course of one season.

One year after having by far the worst Spring Training record and ERA in the Majors, the Angels had a much better camp. Here’s a look at the numbers …

Record: 19-11-2, 2nd in the Cactus League
Runs: 190, 4th in MLB
OPS: .803, 3rd in MLB
SP ERA: 4.01, 11th in MLB
RP WHIP: 4.20, 4th in MLB

Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Kole CalhounPositives from camp: Albert Pujols looked light on his feet around the bag and on the bases. … Josh Hamilton quickly got his timing back after missing time with a strained left hamstring. … Tyler Skaggs was mostly sitting at 95 mph, after having a hard time touching 90 mph last year. … Erick Aybar and Kole Calhoun — batting ninth and first, respectively, and ahead of Mike Trout — drew a combined 21 walks. … C.J. Wilson had a 1.88 ERA in 28 2/3 innings. … Ernesto Frieri didn’t allow a run in 10 outings. … Trout batted .414/.460/.828. … The Angels rid themselves of two potential distractions, releasing Joe Blanton and signing Trout to the much-talked-about extension. … Out-of-options infielder Andrew Romine was turned into much-needed starting-pitching depth in Jose Alvarez.

Negatives from camp: Sean Burnett is still working his way back from August surgery, but he’s expected to face hitters for the first time in a sim game on Tuesday or Wednesday. … Dane De La Rosa is starting the season on the DL with a right forearm strain, but he could be back as soon as the weekend series in Houston. … Brian Moran is working his way back from left elbow inflammation, leaving Nick Maronde (1.89 Cactus League WHIP) as the only lefty in the bullpen to start the year. … Skaggs and Hector Santiago had their occasional long innings, an indication that there will be some growing pains. … Newcomers David Freese (one extra-base hit) and Raul Ibanez (.218 batting average) didn’t have great results at the plate, but both were happy with the way they were driving the ball.

Now, what does all this mean for the regular season?

I have no idea.

***

The Angels’ depth chart can be found here.

Now, if you’ve followed baseball long enough you know that a team never goes an entire season with the same 25-man roster (or even the same five-man rotation). So, here’s a look at who’s next in line at every position …

Catcher: Luis Martinez
Third base: Luis Jimenez
Shortstop: Tommy Field
Second base: Grant Green
First base: C.J. Cron
Left field: J.B. Shuck
Center field: Matt Long
Right field: Brennan Boesch
Starter: Wade LeBlanc or Alvarez
Reliever: Brandon Lyon

***

Mike TroutOn that Trout contract

For months, many wondered how much Trout would be worth in the open market and speculated what it would cost to lock up the best all-around player in baseball. They put his three arbitration years at upwards of $60 million, had him pegged as a $35 million free agent and believed he could be baseball’s first $300-million player.

But three are three important things to keep in mind about Trout’s situation …

1. He isn’t in his free-agent years yet. He still needed to get through three arbitration years, which greatly limits how much a player can make.

2. Being a $300-million player would’ve probably required a 10-year, contract, and that wouldn’t have been ideal because Trout wants to cash in on another monster contract by hitting the open market before age 30.

3. There’s just as much incentive for Trout as there is for the Angels, no matter how great he is. Why? Because free agency is a whole four years away, a lot can happen in four years, and it’s hard to turn down that much financial security so early.

So, Trout’s contract is $144.5 million over the course of six seasons, from 2015-20 (with a full no-trade clause, basic incentives and no additional option years or opt-outs). And I think it gives both sides what they want. It gives the Angels three additional years of Trout and some cost-certainty. It gives Trout a chance to be a free agent again at age 29 and makes him the highest-paid player relative to service time at every juncture.

Here’s a look at the year-by-year breakdown, and who Trout surpasses …

2014: $1M (Pujols in 2003 and Ryan Howard in ’07 with $900K for a pre-arbitration player)*
2015: $10.25M (Howard, $10M in ’08 for first-year arbitration)**
2016: $15.25M (Howard, $15M in ’09 for second-year arbitration)
2017: $19.25M (Howard, $19M in ’10 for third-year arbitration)
2018-20: $33.25M (Miguel Cabrera, $31M AAV in ’14 for a free agent)

* the $1M compensation was done before the contract
** $5M of that will be paid to Trout in 2014, as part of a signing bonus

***

Jered WeaverSome questions, answered …

Can the Angels stay competitive for the next seven seasons to keep Trout’s interest in the team? (@ryanwjsmyth)

One of the reasons Trout felt comfortable staying with the Angels long term is because he knows the owner, Arte Moreno, isn’t afraid to put his money into making this team competitive. One thing is for sure: The Angels will not be in rebuild mode over the life of Trout’s contract, or even while Moreno is around. But it’ll be harder and harder to stay below the luxury tax and put a World Series-contending product on the field as Hamilton and Pujols naturally decline. Jerry Dipoto has a tough task at hand — continue to build a contending team while also developing young pitching. Getting Santiago and Skaggs is a good start, though. Also, keep in mind: Trout’s decision to stay will be based more on how good the Angels can be after 2020, not necessarily what they’ve done leading up to it.

Will Albert Pujols hit 30+ home runs this season? (@adreamersview)

If healthy, I think you can bank on that. He hit 30 in 2012 even though he went a month and a half without hitting his first (and I don’t expect that to happen again). Plantar fasciitis didn’t just limit his defense and baserunning. It made his right knee, surgically repaired the previous offseason, swell up. And it sapped his power because a hitter is nothing without a healthy base. I’m never going to doubt Pujols’ ability to hit. He’s proven it long enough.

If the Angels make a run for the postseason what do you see them doing at the trade deadline? (@gizmosol)

Trying to get their hands on more starting pitching. Justin Masterson and Max Scherzer are heading into their final seasons before free agency, Cliff Lee and David Price may get shopped, and all sorts of other starters could become available in July. The Angels still have roughly $15 million below the luxury-tax threshold that they’re willing to use. Yes, the farm system is still pretty barren. But the list of teams in the market for a starting-pitching rental in July is usually very short, and the Angels could dangle Cron or Taylor Lindsey or Kaleb Cowart or some of their (few) good pitching prospects if they feel they’re close (and hope for a better result than the 2012 trade for Zack Greinke).

***

Here are some links to our Opening Day coverage …

The Angels 2014 Season preview
Jered Weaver gets franchise-record sixth Opening Day nod
Ibanez reflects on what Opening Day means to him
Broadcaster Jose Mota talks about the upcoming season

Some feature stories from earlier in the spring, in case you missed them …

Weaver leads rotation’s quest for redemption
Pujols, Hamilton facing more doubt than ever
Mike Scioscia eager to reclaim winning formula
John McDonald “a magician” with the glove
The odyssey of De La Rosa, and a lesson in never giving up
Trout can’t believe how fast this is all happening

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

ST Game 24: Angels 7, Royals 3 …

Josh Hamilton, Raul IbanezMost important thing: The Angels’ offense continues to roll. They entered fourth in the Majors in runs and scored a combined six in the second and third inning. Mike Trout (2-for-4) is batting .409, Howie Kendrick (ground-rule double) is batting .400, Chris Iannetta (three-run homer) is batting .360, Erick Aybar (1-for-3) is batting .324, Kole Calhoun (solo homer) is batting .300 and Albert Pujols (1-for-4 with a deep lineout) has his batting average up to .293.

Second-most important thing: C.J. Wilson went 5 1/3 innings despite a long first and second inning, giving up three runs (one earned) on seven hits and two walks while striking out nine. He actually pitched even better than that. There weren’t very many hard-hit balls against him and he was the victim of some shaky defense early. His spring ERA is 2.49.

Third-most important thing: Josh Hamilton, playing in his fourth game since returning from a strained left calf, went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored and ran around a lot. He looks perfectly healthy, and not like a guy who’s going to need to start the season on the disabled list to get more at-bats.

Fourth-most important thing: Kevin Jepsen and Joe Smith pitched on back-to-back days for the first time this spring and turned in scoreless outings.

Fifth-most important thing: David Freese went 2-for-2 and has eight hits in his last 21 at-bats, raising his Cactus League batting average to .257.

Best defensive play (that I actually saw): Aybar might have turned in the Angels’ best catch of the spring, diving full extension to his right to snag a really hard liner off the bat of Brett Hayes.

Best quote: Mike Scioscia on Wilson’s outing: “We didn’t help him much in the field in the first couple innings, but he settled in and really pitched well. He needed a lot of pitches to get through the first couple of innings, but then he really got the ball in the zone in good spots and finished strong. He’s on track.”

Angels’ record: 12-10-2

Taco power rankings (updated every Friday): 1. Los Taquitos, 2. El Hefe, 3. America’s Taco Shop, 4. Sombrero’s Mexican Grill, 5. Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, 6. Senor Taco, 7. Carolina’s Mexican Food, 8. Poliberto’s Taco Shop, 9. Dos Gringos (at the ballpark), 10. Salty Senorita

Alden

ST Game 23: Angels 3, Royals 2 …

Jered WeaverMost important thing: Jered Weaver was much better against the “A” lineup of a Royals team that expects to score a lot of runs this year. He gave up just two runs on three hits, walked none and struck out five in a 77-pitch, 5 1/3-inning outing. His last start of the spring could come in a Minor League game, which the Angels can make a controlled environment so Weaver can complete seven innings. Weaver will start Opening Day on March 31, but as usual, Mike Scioscia doesn’t like to say so ahead of time.

Second-most important thing: Albert Pujols and Mike Trout both hit balls into the lawn just behind the center-field fence. Pujols took Bruce Chen deep in the first, giving him seven hits in 14 at-bats. Trout smoked a sixth-inning changeup from Chen near the bushes that sit behind the grass. It was Trout’s fourth home run of the spring, and his second bomb to dead center field.

Third-most important thing: Josh Hamilton played in back-to-back games for the first time, and moved to the fifth spot against an opposing lefty (that could happen often this season). He went 0-for-3, popping out to the left side his first time, grounding right into the shift his second time and striking out swinging — against right-hander Wade Davis — his third time.

Fourth-most important thing: Nick Maronde relieved Weaver in the sixth and retired the two left-handed hitters he faced, getting Eric Hosmer to line out to center field, walking the right-handed-hitting Billy Butler and striking out Alex Gordon. Sean Burnett is still rehabbing from August forearm surgery, Brian Moran is nursing left elbow inflammation and Maronde, 24, is the only other lefty reliever remaining in camp. He could win a spot in their bullpen.

Fifth-most important thing: Joe Smith, Kevin Jepsen and Brandon Lyon (the latter of whom still has to win a spot in the bullpen) each threw scoreless frames. Jepsen struck out all three batters he faced, while Smith worked around a hit and a walk and Lyon threw a clean ninth inning to record his second save.

Best defensive play (that I actually saw): Trout laid out to catch a sinking line drive off the bat of Lorenzo Cain in the second.

Best quote: Weaver on Pujols: “I think you guys are seeing a pretty healthy Albert out there, man. It’s fun to see him moving well at first base. And even when he gets in the box, he just looks way more comfortable as far as his swing and approach goes. It’s night and day from last year, man.”

Angels’ record: 11-10-2

Alden

ST Game 22: Angels 14, White Sox 10 …

Mike TroutMost important thing: The Angels unveiled their everyday lineup on Wednesday, and it did some serious damage. In the six innings the starting nine was together, they plated nine runs and scored in every frame. Albert Pujols lined two doubles to right-center field, Mike Trout hit a solo homer to left-center, Kole Calhoun and Howie Kendrick each notched a couple of hits, Josh Hamilton and David Freese contributed RBI singles, and Erick Aybar brought in a run with a suicide squeeze.

Second-most important thing: Tyler Skaggs struggled once again, despite being given a big lead. The 22-year-old left-hander gave up five runs on seven hits and three walks, striking out two in 4 1/3 innings. Skaggs has now given up 11 runs in his last 11 1/3 innings, putting his Cactus League ERA at 6.14. Two starts remain.

Third-most important thing: Michael Kohn walked the first two batters he faced in the seventh, then gave up an RBI single to Jose Abreu before recording back-to-back outs and exiting. Cory Rasmus immediately gave up a three-run homer to Matt Davidson, charging two more runs to Kohn and making his 8.53 spring ERA deceiving. Mike Scioscia said that while the ball is coming out of Kohn’s hand well, he’s “yanking” the ball, which means he’s flying open with his left shoulder and it’s causing him to miss outside on right-handers.

Fourth-most important thing: Trout took a first-pitch curveball from right-hander Erik Johnson to the left wrist, then stole second base two pitchers later.  On Saturday, Trout was hit in the back and stole second base on the next pitch. He loves doing that.

Fifth-most important thing: Some bench hopefuls did some good things. J.B. Shuck hit his fourth triple of the spring, Ian Stewart hit a long home run and Grant Green handled two grounders at shortstop, one of which was a slow roller.

Best defensive play (that I actually saw): With two on and two outs in the fifth, Calhoun crashed up against the right-field fence to catch a long line drive off the bat of Dayan Viciedo.

Best quote: Skaggs on his outing: “The command was definitely not what I wanted it to be. I made some good pitches in tough times, but one that you definitely build off as a learning experience today, kind of not going out there and having the command of any of my pitches.”

Angels’ record: 10-10-2

Alden

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