Results tagged ‘ Kole Calhoun ’
The 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.”
Tuesday night’s game will be remembered mostly for Collin Cowgill‘s walk-off homer, which set up the Angels’ fifth straight win and put them 2 1/2 games back in the American League West, and for Yoenis Cespdes‘ throw, one of the best anybody has ever seen. But here are some other takeaways from one of the most interesting games of the season …
- This was the Angels’ best pitching performance of the year. Hector Santiago provided six scoreless innings in his return from Triple-A Salt Lake, scattering three hits while walking one and striking out eight. Then, six relievers (Kevin Jepsen, Mike Morin, Joe Smith, Cam Bedrosian, Fernando Salas and Cory Rasmus) combined to give up one run in eight innings, scattering five hits, walking two and striking out six, going toe-to-toe with an A’s bullpen that ranks third in the Majors in relief-pitcher WHIP.
- The Angels, as Mike Scioscia said, “were fortunate tonight.” They made two critical baserunning blunders, with Albert Pujols running through a Gary DiSarcina stop sign in the sixth to easily get thrown out at home by Brandon Moss, and Kole Calhoun trying to advance to third in the 11th on a ground ball to shortstop Jed Lowrie, who flipped to Josh Donaldson for the easy out.
- Scioscia made a questionable decision to have Calhoun bunt in the 13th, after Mike Trout drew a leadoff walk. Calhoun did his job, which meant Trout advanced to second, but with first base open, the A’s opted to walk Josh Hamilton (even though they had a lefty, Jeff Francis, pitching). The sac bunt took the bat out of the hands of one of the Angels’ best players, and paved the way for an inning-ending double play from David Freese.
- The Angels and A’s play a lot of extra innings. In five matchups between the two at Angel Stadium, they’ve now gone to extra innings three times. That, in addition to the 19-inning game played in Oakland on April 29 of last year.
Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun finally broke out on Thursday, going 2-for-4 while drawing a couple of walks and admittedly seeing the ball better than he has since returning from a sprained right ankle nine days ago.
And for that, he earned a spot right back on the bench.
The left-handed-hitting Calhoun sat against lefty Drew Pomeranz against the A’s on Friday, and may sit again when another lefty – Tommy Milone – starts on Saturday. Calhoun historically has even splits — .750 OPS versus lefties, .749 OPS versus righties – but Angels manager Mike Scioscia continues to platoon with his outfield corners, going with right-handed hitters Grant Green (left field) and Collin Cowgill (right field) in the series opener.
Scioscia said in the past that Calhoun is “too good a hitter” to platoon.
But not against a guy who has limited lefties to a .168/.245/.224 slash line this season, at least.
“Today is really just a matchup day against Pomeranz,” Scioscia said. “His splits are really tilted toward giving more of a right-handed look to our lineup. It might be different versus Milone. Kole took a huge step forward yesterday. Just the fact of him seeing so many pitches and getting on base so much is why in the first place we considered him as a potential leadoff candidate. I think our best lineup is a look that will eventually have him up there, but at times, we’re going to have to adjust off of it.”
The lineups for a showdown between the two best teams in the AL West …
Erick Aybar, SS
Mike Trout, CF
Albert PUjols, 1B
David Freese, 3B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
C.J. Cron, DH
Chris Iannetta, C
Grant Green, LF
Collin Cowgill, RF
SP: Garrett Richards (4-1, 3.00 ERA)
Coco Crisp, CF
John Jaso, DH
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Brandon Moss, 1B
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Jed Lowrie, SS
Josh Reddick, RF
Derek Norris, C
Alberto Callaspo, 2B
SP: Pomeranz (4-2, 1.38 ERA)
Kole Calhoun‘s return to the leadoff spot was merely a byproduct of Albert Pujols missing his first game of the season.
But it may have gotten him going nonetheless.
Calhoun entered Thursday’s game 1-for-19 since coming off a six-week rehabilitation from a sprained right ankle, then went 2-for-4 in the 7-5 win over the Mariners, hitting a double, drawing two walks and scoring three runs. The 26-year-old right fielder believes returning to the leadoff spot played a part in feeling better than he has at the plate since coming off the DL, becuase it forced him to take pitches and be more patient.
“Your typical leadoff hitter is going to try to get on base, let these guys know what the starting pitcher has, especially early in the game,” Calhoun said. “I saw six pitches my first at-bat, laid off some close ones in my second and third at-bats. That’s something personally I need to do, and it’s good for the team. I set the table and had a good night.”
Calhoun entered the season as the team’s leadoff hitter, and hit there for 11 of his first 14 games.
Asked if he’ll continue to ride Calhoun at the leadoff spot, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said: “I think we’ll mix and match a little bit. He did a good job tonight. When he gets comfortable, we talked about him hitting at the top. Against leftie,s we got some guys who are doing a pretty good job getting on base, too. We’ll have some options.”
Translation: Calhoun may actually sit over the next two games, as the A’s start the series with lefties Drew Pomeranz and Tommy Milone. Calhoun has hit lefties well in his career, but Scioscia has been going with Grant Green and Collin Cowgill in the outfield corners in those situations.
Albert Pujols won’t be playing in 162 games this season. Angels manager Mike Scioscia made sure of that on Wednesday, when he told his superstar first baseman he’d be sitting for the first time in Thursday’s series finale at Safeco Field and didn’t let Pujols talk his way out of it.
He tried though.
“Yeah, but they said no,” Pujols admitted, laughing. “They don’t even want me to hit. I’m just going to go to the cage just to get loose. I’m not taking batting practice, either.”
The primary goal – more so than having him in the lineup for every game – is to make sure they keep Pujols fresh throughout the season, especially after he missed the last two months of 2013 with a partial tear of his left plantar fascia. Pujols said his lower half is “good” and “better than it was on the last road trip,” when the hard turf at Rogers Centre took its toll on the 34-year-old.
Scioscia wanted to give Pujols the day off “just to get him to recharge.”
“Albert will go out and play till the cows come home,” Scioscia added. “It’s time for him to take a day today.”
Pujols is batting .262 with a team-leading 14 homers, but his production has dipped over the last month or so, with a .236/.298/.445 slash line, five homers and 19 strikeouts in his last 28 games. In his last at-bat against Felix Hernandez on Wednesday night, though, Pujols stayed back on a 93-mph fastball and drove it to right field for a two-out RBI double in the ninth.
“It was middle-out, and that was a ball I was pulling a little bit,” said Pujols, who has started at designated hitter 11 times this year. “I was able to stay through it. Hopefully I can take it to the next series, and hopefully I get an opportunity to play tonight.”
- Josh Hamilton was slated to take live batting practice on the field Thursday, and if that went well, he’d re-start his rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on Friday. Scioscia is hopeful that Hamilton will return before the end of this road trip (Thursday in Houston).
- Dane De La Rosa (right s/c joint irritation) appeared in back-to-back outings for Triple-A Salt Lake for the first time on Wednesday and Thursday, giving up a run in each one-inning outing. He isn’t ready to join the Angels just yet. Scioscia said his “stuff looked good,” but he’s “slowly making progress” and “to get the confidence to know he’s where he needs to be might take a couple more outings.”
- Grant Green (.388/.404/.510) started over Collin Cowgill because, frankly, Scioscia wants to get him as many at-bats as possible since he’s swinging the bat so well (full lineup here).
- Also, Kole Calhoun is back at leadoff. Scioscia: “With Albert out, we definitely want Mike [Trout] third. If you look at his ability to work counts, even though obviously he hasn’t been locked in since he came off the DL, I think hell be a positive in the leadoff spot, and with Erick [Aybar] in there, it will give us a good look before the heart of our lineup.”
The Angels now have only an 11-man pitching staff, but will probably go back to the traditional 12 by Friday, with either Dane De La Rosa or Sean Burnett returning from the disabled list and a position player – likely Efren Navarro – going down to Triple-A.
Simply put, Santiago needs to pitch.
The 26-year-old left-hander had made only two appearances in nearly two weeks as a pseudo swingman and the Angels still view him as a starting pitcher long term. So he’ll get stretched out again with the Salt Lake Bees, with the hope of recapturing the command that will eventually bring him back to the rotation.
“Take it as a positive,” Santiago said, even though it was hard for him to. “They want me in the rotation; they want to keep me stretched out. But now it’s just time to work and get back into it.”
Santiago, acquired along with Tyler Skaggs in the three-team deal that sent Mark Trumbo to the D-backs in December, went 0-6 with a 5.19 ERA in the first seven starts of his Angels career. Some of it had to do with very little run support, or several instances of bad luck, or a back ailment he nursed through most of his first three starts. But mostly, Santiago was walking too many hitters (4.3 per nine innings) and letting too many innings snowball.
So early Wednesday afternoon, Santiago got called into manager Mike Scioscia’s office, where general manager Jerry Dipoto and pitching coach Mike Butcher were waiting with news the southpaw partly deemed inevitable.
“We were very open and honest about what we saw and what he needs to do, and Hector was very receptive,” Scioscia said. “I think he has a good frame of mind to work on the things he needs to work on, and I’d be very surprised if we’re not seeing him throwing the ball to his capabilities in a short amount of time, because he has a great arm.”
In the meantime, Matt Shoemaker will continue to fill Santiago’s old spot.
Shoemaker, a 27-year-old Minor League journeyman, has given up just three runs in 11 innings while beating Cliff Lee and David Price in two starts. He’ll take his regular turn on Saturday – the Angels are keeping their pitching schedule in order after the Thursday off day – and continue to start until either he struggles or Santiago gets it together or both occur.
“It’s a little bump in the road,” Santiago said. “Go down and work on the same thing we’ve been working on and take some positives out of the last outing and run with it.”
Some additional notes from a pretty newsy day …
- Mike Trout was out of the starting lineup for the first time on Wednesday due to the left hamstring tightness he’s been experiencing for the last few days. The move was just precautionary, because Trout can take two days off with the Angels not playing on Thursday. He said the hamstring actually feels better today.
- Pitching prospect R.J. Alvarez was placed on the seven-day Minor League disabled list due to some “elbow tenderness,” Dipoto confirmed. Alvarez flew back to Anaheim to get an MRI, which is pretty much standard operating procedure. Alvarez’s velocity was normal during his most recent outing on May 12 — five strikeouts in two perfect innings for Double-A Arkansas — and the Angels don’t have any reason to believe it’s anything serious at this point.
- Calhoun batted sixth today, but will probably return to the leadoff spot when Josh Hamilton returns to the lineup (maybe Monday).
- De La Rosa (Triple-A) and Burnett (Double-A) are both slated to pitch in a rehab outing today.
- Ian Stewart (left hand contusion) is still experiencing some pain when he takes batting practice, but is hoping to go on a rehab assignment this weekend.
Jerry Dipoto wouldn’t flat out say that the veteran designated hitter will not be released, but the Angels’ general manager did indicate that the club would continue to be patient with Ibanez – because he turned things around after a slow start last year, because they like his veteran presence, because he’s come through in late-game situations and because keeping him on the roster allows the organization to preserve depth.
“One of the real benefits about where we’re at right now is just the fact that we have unmasked some depth, and once you start peeling depth away, it’s not there anymore,” Dipoto said. “Raul has a track record. He has done this before. He has gone through cold spells, and he has gotten hot. There’s nobody here who believes Raul has had his last good days in the big leagues.”
The Angels’ current dilemma, no doubt, is a good one.
Efren Navarro, Grant Green, C.J. Cron and Luis Jimenez have come up from Triple-A and contributed in the last few weeks, and now several key position players are on the verge of being activated off the disabled list.
Third baseman David Freese (non-displaced fracture in right middle finger) and right fielder Kole Calhoun (sprained right ankle) are deep into a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake and could be back within the next couple days.
That would presumably lead to Jimenez (a right-handed-hitting third baseman) and Navarro (a left-handed hitter currently playing corner outfield) getting optioned.
But next week, when left fielder Josh Hamilton (sprained left thumb) and third baseman Ian Stewart (left hand contusion) are projected to return, is when things could get interesting.
The Angels would then perceivably have to make a decision between Green, a right-handed hitter who can play up to four different positions, and Cron, the slugging prospect who can spell Albert Pujols by playing first base and can be a right-handed-hitting complement to Ibanez at DH.
Stewart, who has batted .176 and struck out 31 times in 24 games, can be optioned to Triple-A.
“We’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in getting guys back,” Dipoto said. “And the guys who have come up and chipped in have done such a great job that it makes it tough to have conversations. But my goodness, when you look at the way the roster has been stacked, it’s been fun.”
Ibanez, 41, has a .148/.268/.269 slash line in his first 36 games, but he posted only a .511 OPS in April last year and then turned it around shortly thereafter, with a 1.031 OPS in May. The Angels believe he can do the same now.
“To be fair, you bring a guy in, you remain patient with him, you give him his opportunity,” Dipoto said. “Raul wasn’t brought in to jam into the 4-hole and hit cleanup for a month. It hadn’t been a great six weeks for him. We’ll get him where he needs to be.”
Josh 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.
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)
Collin Cowgill, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Erick Aybar, SS
Chris Iannetta, C
Grant Green, LF
John McDonald, 3B
SP: LH Hector Santiago (0-5, 5.01 ERA)
The Angels couldn’t wait on David Freese’s finger to heal without utilizing his roster spot, so they placed the veteran third baseman on the 15-day disabled list prior to Saturday’s game against the Rangers.
And then they shook up the roster.
Up is power-hitting prospect C.J. Cron, who’s ranked third in the Angels’ system by MLB.com and will make his Major League debut as the designated hitter in the No. 5 spot of the lineup.
Joining him is third baseman Luis Jimenez, who hit .264 in 34 games with the Angels last year.
Sent down to Triple-A is outfielder J.B. Shuck, the scrappy left-handed hitter who was batting .173 in his first 19 games.
“I feel we do need more right-handed infield depth with David out,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, “and we definitely feel that J.B. can benefit from going down there and just figuring some things out.”
The Angels cleared a spot on the 40-man for Cron by outrighting reliever Yoslan Herrera off the 40-man roster, three days after optioning him to Triple-A. They then opened spots for Cron and Jimenez on the active, 25-man roster by sending Shuck down and placing Freese on the DL.
Freese suffered a small, non-displaced fracture in his right middle finger after getting hit by a fastball from Rangers starter Colby Lewis on Friday, but said Saturday that he’s “pretty confident” he can be ready at or around the time he’s eligible to be activated (May 18).
In the meantime, the right-handed-hitting Jimenez and the left-handed-hitting Ian Stewart figure to platoon at third base, with Jimenez batting eighth against left-hander Matt Harrison on Saturday. Grant Green batted ninth while making his Major League debut in left field, a position he figures to get most of his playing time at moving forward.
Cron, meanwhile, gives the Angels a right-handed-hitting option at DH and can also play some first base if Albert Pujols needs a day off his feet. The left-handed-hitting Raul Ibanez – with a .149/.221/.299 slash line in his first 26 games – will be an option at DH and left field.
In short, the lineup – a lineup that’s also without corner outfielders Josh Hamilton and Kole Calhoun – will change frequently.
“C.J. had a terrific spring for us,” Scioscia said of Cron. “I think he’s really found a comfort level the last couple years he’s played, had a great Fall League and spring-boarded it to a terrific Spring Training. He’s off to a great start [in Triple-A] and hopefully he’s going to give us a little boost right now because, especially with David being out, we have a right-handed void.”
Cron posted a 1.167 OPS in the Arizona Fall League, batted .292 in 12 Spring Training games and had a .319/.369/.602 slash line in his first 20 games in the Pacific Coast League.
After Friday night’s game in Salt Lake City, Utah, the 24-year-old got called into the office and saw manager Keith Johnson and director of player development Bobby Scales standing stoically. Scales told Cron his times to first base were a little slow and that he needed to work on it, to which Cron replied with “Yes, sir.” Then they started cracking up, and Johnson broke the news.
“It was really cool,” Cron said. “I didn’t really know what to expect, honestly. It was really early in the season. But I was pleasantly surprised.”
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.”