Results tagged ‘ Mike Scioscia ’

Pujols on leak of meetings: ‘It’s really embarrasing’ …

The prevailing sentiment in the Angels’ clubhouse on Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after a FoxSports.com report detailed friction between the front office and coaching staff, wasn’t so much anger at what took place.

It was disappointment in the fact that it was made public.

“Whoever leaked that story, it’s really embarrassing,” Angels first baseman Albert Pujols said. “We’re supposed to be a family here.”

The report stated that “emotions simmered” amid a series of meetings revolving around the front office’s belief that the coaching staff was doing an inadequate job of relaying scouting information to players. In those meetings, occurring this past weekend, at least one coach “responded heatedly” to general manager Jerry Dipoto and Pujols issued “a pointed rebuttal” to the fourth-year GM.

A source said the report’s portrayal of the meetings was “verbatim,” though what it all means moving forward is still very much open for interpretation.

“I’m not going to comment on what happened or didn’t happen,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, “but I can only tell you it will not be a distraction to these guys.”

Angels setup man Joe Smith believes it was no different from what goes on throughout the course of any season with any team.

“You have a bunch of men filled with testosterone in one little room, and we’re with each other every day and we’re all trying to do something,” Smith said. “Stuff happens, and I think it’s better when it’s kept in-house. Because it does happen; it happens every year in every clubhouse. You keep your mouth shut, you keep it in here, and you move on, with everybody performing in the right direction.”

But the report could also be yet another sign that Dipoto and Scioscia, baseball’s longest-tenured manager, aren’t on the same page. And it’s even more prevalent when considering that Scioscia can opt out of his 10-year contract at the end of this season, rather than staying through 2018.

Dipoto, who had his 2016 club option picked up earlier this season, didn’t respond to several requests seeking comment. The two bumped heads through Dipoto’s first two years, 2012-13, but Scioscia said he and Dipoto are “a good team,” adding that “the only real issue” was when they let hitting coach Mickey Hatcher go in May 2012.

We’ve moved past that,” Scioscia added. “We’ve moved way past that.”

Dipoto, according to the report, believes the coaches rely too heavily on “feel” and the coaches “seemingly do not trust the information they are given,” making them “not willing or able to translate it for the players.”

None of the roles in the Angels’ coaching staff or in-game scouting department will change, Scioscia said. A source added that the players will simply be receiving scouting information directly to their iPads from the front office, rather than have a coach filter through it first. The players can then choose to do what they want with it.

“The only difference is getting the scouting reports to players and then bringing it back to coaches,” Scioscia said. “It’s just a slight adjustment.”

The FoxSports.com report said Pujols “challenged” Dipoto on Sunday, by “saying that the coaches are working as hard to prepare the players as they did last season, but that the roster is not as strong as it was a year ago.”

Asked about having words with Dipoto, Pujols said: “That’s none of your business. Whatever happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse.”

The report comes at a time when the Angels are still trying to find their footing. They won a Major League-best 98 games last year, but they’ve had a .500 record on 18 separate occasions this season. And despite winning four of their previous five games, they entered Tuesday four games back of the first-place Astros in the American League West.

On the mound, the Angels sport the fifth-lowest ERA in the AL. On defense, a department where the Angels began incorporating a lot more defensive shifting at the start of 2014, they rank third in efficiency, according to Baseball Prospectus. Their offense, however, has scored the fourth-fewest runs per game in the AL.

“It’s been a tough year so far,” Pujols said, “but we’re only four games out with still [11] games before [the All-Star] break.”

Angels starter C.J. Wilson considered the heated discussions “a positive thing.”

“That’s the way I took it,” he said. “Like, ‘Hey, we’re going to work harder as a team overall, have more communication overall.’ I didn’t see anything wrong with it. The whole goal is not about ego; it’s all about winning.”

Alden

Morin nearing return, Weaver throws off mound, etc. …

Angels reliever Mike Morin returned to the team on Monday, one month and five days after going on the disabled list with a strained left oblique. The 24-year-old right-hander is done with his rehab assignment and is expected to be activated by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Morin made one appearance in Arizona, then three for Triple-A Salt Lake, notching two scoreless outings before giving up four runs on six hits in two-thirds of an inning on Sunday – Morin’s first time pitching in back-to-back days and his final test before rejoining the Major League club.

Recent results aside, he feels good.

“I don’t think about it at all,” Morin said of his oblique, which he tweaked while pitching in Fenway Park on May 23. “It has not crossed my mind one bit. That is nice to know that it’s healed up. Now it’s about getting people out.”

Morin did a lot of that during his rookie season last year, while posting a 2.90 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP in 60 appearances. With Kevin Jepsen gone, Morin entered the 2015 season eyeing an opportunity to be the Angels’ seventh-inning reliever, but he’s been charged with 11 runs (10 earned) on 13 hits and five walks in 15 innings thus far.

Morin’s walk rate is about the same – 2.9 walks per nine innings last year, 3.0 walks per nine innings this year – but he believes he’s been focusing too much on his mechanics instead of just going right after hitters.

“That’s why I was successful last year – because I was aggressive,” Morin said. “I think that’s really the main thing – attacking the strike zone and not worrying about results. Just committing to a pitch and just throwing it. It’s a small sample size, but my first three [rehab] outings, very minimal pitches, plenty of strikes. It’s been good.”

  • The Angels called up right-handed-hitting slugger C.J. Cron from Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday, after optioning left-handed-hitting third baseman Kyle Kubitza on Sunday. Cron started against lefty CC Sabathia, but the Angels aren’t expected to see another lefty until Saturday (Wandy Rodriguez of the Rangers).
  • Collin Cowgill (sprained right wrist) took batting practice on the field before Monday’s game and Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he’s “getting close” to going on a rehab assignment. The Angels could face a tough roster decision between Cowgill and Daniel Robertson, another right-handed-hitting outfielder with similar skillsets.
  • Lefty reliever Edgar Ibarra was outrighted Sunday, putting the Angels’ 40-man roster at 39. That potentially creates a spot for Cory Rasmus, who has pitched in six innings in four rehab appearances in Triple-A. The Angels want Rasmus – on the 60-day DL after undergoing surgery for a core injury – to get more stretched out before getting activated.
  • Angels starter Jered Weaver (inflammation in his left hip) got off the mound for the first time on Monday, throwing a 20-pitch, all-fastball bullpen session. Weaver said he felt good and will throw a more extended bullpen session Wednesday, incorporating all his pitches. The 32-year-old right-hander probably won’t need to go on a rehab assignment before coming back. … Asked if Weaver could return before the All-Star break, Scioscia said: “It’s tough to handicap it right now, but there’s anything from making sure he physically feels good to getting back into his delivery and finding it, and getting some stamina in there in terms of up-down bullpens. So there’s a little bit of work to go.”

Alden

Heaney called up to start vs. Astros …

The Angels called up top prospect Andrew Heaney to start Wednesday’s series finale against the Astros, pushing previously scheduled starter Matt Shoemaker back a couple days to iron out some of his mechanics.

Heaney, who was acquired from the Dodgers for second baseman Howie Kendrick, was 6-2 with a 4.71 ERA in 14 starts for Triple-A Salt Lake, posting a 1.53 WHIP while walking 2.9 batters and striking out 8.5 per nine innings.

The 24-year-old left-hander posted a 3.02 ERA in his first nine starts, but has given up 27 runs (24 earned) in his past 27 2/3 innings.

“There’s a statistical part of the [Pacific Coast League] you have to take into consideration, so we obviously rely very heavily on what our coaches see,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “And I think that Andrew’s ready for the challenge. He’s pitched well. I think he’s made a lot of progress through Spring Training, and I think he can come up here and pitch like he can.”

The Angels are off on Thursday, then Shoemaker will start Friday’s series opener against the Mariners, with Garrett Richards going Saturday and Hector Santiago on Sunday.

The Angels wanted to give Shoemaker a couple of extra days to work with pitching coach Mike Butcher on commanding and locating his fastball. The 28-year-old right-hander has a 5.20 ERA in 13 starts, giving up 15 homers in 72 2/3 innings.

“It definitely doesn’t hurt right now, I’ll put it that way,” Shoemaker said of the extra rest. “It definitely doesn’t hurt.”

Heaney — ranked first in the Angels’ system and 20th overall by MLBPipeline.com — essentially takes the rotation spot of Jered Weaver, who was placed on the disabled list Sunday with a inflammation in his left hip. The Angels sent down outfielder Alfredo Marte after Tuesday’s 13-3 loss to eventually get back to a five-man rotation.

With off days factored in, the Angels also need a fifth starter on Tuesday and July 11. Weaver, who will start throwing again at the end of the week, could return as late as July 21 and miss only two starts.

Heaney entered Spring Training with a chance to win a spot in the rotation, but gave up 19 runs in 24 1/3 innings.

They believe he’s a different guy now.

“The reports are that Andrew is ready for the challenge in the Major Leagues,” Scioscia said. “It’s been brewing for a while. He’s been knocking on our door and he’s ready to take this opportunity.”

Alden

No structural damage on Jered Weaver’s hip …

Tests revealed no structural damage on Jered Weaver‘s left hip, an ailment that forced the Angels’ starter to be placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday.

Weaver won’t pick up a ball for five days, then get re-evaluated, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Monday.

The Angels hope Weaver can return shortly after the All-Star break, though Scioscia didn’t want to put a timetable on his return. Because of off days, and the four-day All-Star break, Weaver could miss just two starts — the Angels next need a fifth starter on June 30 and July 11 — and return as late as July 21.

Scioscia said Cory Rasmus, currently in a rehab assignment for Triple-A Salt Lake, is an option to start in Weaver’s place. Rasmus would only be able to throw three or four innings, though, prompting the Angels to have a bullpen game similar to what happened every time Garrett Richards‘ turn came up in September last year. Jose Alvarez also has some length and can piggy-back Rasmus on those days.

Triple-A starters Andrew Heaney, Adam Wilk, Drew Rucinki, Alex Sanabia and Nick Tropeano — close to returning from a shoulder injury — are also options.

Alden

The Angels’ uncertain, costly future …

dipotoThe Draft starts today, and after going heavy-handed on pitching the last two years, the Angels are expected to target position players this time around. They — like any other team — want to set themselves up so that every time there’s a need on the Major League club, there’s a player in their farm system ready to take over. It’s too risky, not to mention expensive, to rely on the free-agent market to fill holes. Look no further than that brutal offseason heading into 2013, which saw the Angels sign Josh Hamilton, Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson, Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett. Ouch.

The Cardinals are the gold standard when it comes to organizational depth, as evidenced by a Major League-leading plus-70 run-differential without Adam Wanwright or Matt Adams.

The Angels? Well, they’re working on it.

Their farm system was in need of a major replenishment right around the time Jerry Dipoto took over as general manager after the 2011 season, but major free-agent signings stripped the Angels of early-round picks and new CBA regulations limited how much teams can spend on amateur talent. It’s been a slow process. But over time, the Angels have at least done a good job of building some respectable starting-pitching depth. Some notables …

Triple-A: Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano
Double-A: Nate Smith, Kyle McGowin
Class A Advanced: Sean Newcomb, Chris Ellis, Victor Alcantara
Class A: Jeremy Rhoades, Jake Jewell
Lower levels: Joe Gatto, Hunter Green

That brings us to the upcoming offseason, and why that starting-pitching depth could be so important. The Angels — losers of five straight games — could have up to five holes in their lineup once this season ends: catcher, second base, third base, left field, designated hitter. In the majority of those spots — perhaps all of them, if you’re being really cynical — the Angels don’t have players in their organization ready to come up and take over. And their big financial flexibility won’t come after the 2016 season, when C.J. Wilson, Jered Weaver and Erick Aybar, among others, come off the books.

Dipoto, with a contract that carries a lingering club option for 2016, knows he’ll eventually have to part ways with some of the precious starting-pitching depth he’s worked so hard to compile. He may have to trade some of it within these next two months, with his club in desperate need of some offense. And he’s almost certain to do so over the winter, given all their upcoming needs.

Here’s a snapshot …

CATCHER

Current option: Chris Iannetta, in the final season of a three-year, $15.55 million extension
In-house replacement(s): Carlos Perez, Jett Bandy
Free-agent options: Iannetta, Alex Avila, John Jaso, Dioner Navarro, Jeff Mathis (!), Matt Wieters
Probable outcome: The rest of this season could play a big part in deciding how the Angels handle this position. They need to find out if Perez, basically a throw-in in the deal that sent Hank Conger to the Astros for Tropeano, is capable of being a semi-regular. Bandy has made some pretty big strides in the last year and is solid defensively, and that free-agent list is pretty compelling. But I’d guess that if the Angels splurge on a free agent, it’s an outfielder, not a catcher.

THIRD BASE

Current option: David Freese, making $6.425 million in his final arbitration year
In-house replacement(s): Kyle Kubitza
Free-agent options: Freese, Aramis Ramirez, Juan Uribe, Casey McGehee, Alberto Callaspo (!)
Probable outcome: The hope – the initial plan – is that Kubitza is ready to be the everyday third baseman in 2016. The likely scenario is that Kubitza is paired with a right-handed-hitting veteran who doesn’t mind sharing the job and can help Kubitza make the transition to the big leagues. I think it’s unlikely that they make a run at resigning Freese, especially since he’ll probably make good money given the lack of talent in the free-agent pool at third base.

SECOND BASE

Current option: Johnny Giavotella, controllable through 2019
In-house replacement(s): Giavotella, Josh Rutledge, Grant Green, Taylor Featherston, Alex Yarbrough
Free-agent options: Howie Kendrick (!), Ben Zobrist, Daniel Murphy
Probable outcome: Giavotella has been a revelation of sorts and is out of options. None of the other in-house options are all that appealing, as Spring Training might have shown, but the free-agent market isn’t deep here, either. The Angels don’t really do reunions, but Kendrick was huge for their lineup these last few years and he loves playing in Southern California. This is a position where they may ultimately have to get creative again.

LEFT FIELD

Current option: Matt Joyce, making $4.75 million in his final arbitration year
In-house replacement(s): Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin Cowgill, Efren Navarro, Alfredo Marte
Free-agent options: Joyce, Yoenis Cespedes, Jason Heyward, Torii Hunter (!), David Murphy, Justin Upton, Chris Young, Shane Victorino
Probable outcome: As you can see, this is a major, major problem. Outfield is by far the Angels’ biggest organizationally need and they’ll most certainly have to get somebody from the outside. That may happen before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, though. Dipoto has been looking for a left-handed-hitting left fielder for quite a while, and for obvious reasons, he’d like to get someone who’s controllable beyond this season. Upton would be a very appealing option, though.

DESIGNATED HITTER

Current option: C.J. Cron, controllable through 2020
In-house replacement(s): Cron, Marc Krauss
Free-agent options: Chris Davis, Mike Napoli (!), Delmon Young
Probable outcome: This situation is strikingly similar to left field. For the last two years, Angels manager Mike Scioscia has been scrounging for that ninth bat, going from Raul Ibanez to Cron to Navarro to Krauss to Green to Cron again. Most teams have this problem, though. Perhaps the Angels remain patient with Cron, but I see them getting two bats before August.

Alden

Pujols chasing Mantle in the Bronx …

Can Albert Pujols tie, and perhaps pass, Mickey Mantle at his old stomping grounds?

It’s possible.

Pujols, who tied Jimmie Foxx on Tuesday, enters the weekend series at Yankee Stadium — the new Yankee Stadium, of course — with 534 career home runs. Two more, and he ties Mantle for 16th on the all-time list. The Angels’ 35-year-old first baseman is batting .258 with 14 homers and 28 RBIs, and six of those homers have come over his last seven games.

“Every time Albert hits a home run, it’s kind of fun to just see what the notes say about who he’s catching,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It’s a Hall of Fame roster. If he catches Mickey Mantle in this park, that’d be a nice touch.”

  • The Angels are shuffling the rotation once again. Matt Shoemaker will start Tuesday’s series opener against the Rays and Hector Santiago will be pushed back to start next Friday. The Angels were coming off an off day on Thursday and have another one Monday.
  • Collin Cowgill (fractured left wrist) took some dry swings on Friday and will hit off a tee on Saturday. He’s feeling good, but is still weeks away and will have to eventually go on a rehab assignment.
  • The same can be said about Mike Morin, who’s nursing a left oblique strain. Morin played light catch on Wednesday and Friday, but is still in the early stages of his throwing progression.
  • Carlos Perez caught each of Jered Weaver‘s last five starts — five starts that has seen Weaver turn his season around with a 1.98 ERA. But Chris Iannetta was behind the plate on Friday (full lineup here).

Alden

Aybar still day-to-day, hopes to return Saturday …

Angels shortstop Erick Aybar was out of the starting lineup, as expected, on Friday, one day after tweaking his left hamstring while running up the first-base line.

Aybar felt just “a pinch” in his leg, and he hopes to return as early as Saturday.

“I woke up feeling better,” Aybar said in Spanish. “I won’t do anything today. Tomorrow, I’ll run. If I’m fine, I’ll just play tomorrow.”

Aybar’s absence prompted young utility infielder Taylor Featherston to start at shortstop and second baseman Johnny Giavotella to move into the leadoff spot.

Aybar, who started each of the Angels’ first 48 games at shortstop, suffered the hamstring injury after executing a squeeze bunt in Thursday’s fifth inning. He jogged back to the dugout gingerly and asked to return to the game, but Featherston took his place the next half-inning. He wanted to start Friday, but the Angels told him to take the day off entirely.

They’ll continue to be cautious.

“He has to get to a level the medical department is comfortable with before we consider working him out to see where he is and getting him into a game,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “… When he pulls up, you’re racing in your mind. ‘Is this something where he’s just going to have to come out for this game, or is it going to be a month?’ You just never know with hamstrings. It seems like we’re in the day-to-day range right now.”

The Angels’ offense – 22nd in the Majors in runs per game and 27th in OPS despite a 12-run output on Thursday – can ill afford to lose Aybar for an extended period. The 31-year-old switch-hitter has been hitting .351 since May 8 and had settled in as the Angels’ leadoff spot over the last 11 days.

Giavotella can continue to lead off in Aybar’s place, though Scioscia brought up the possibility of Kole Calhoun returning to the leadoff spot if the left-handed-hitting Matt Joyce stays hot. Featherston will get the majority of playing time at shortstop while Aybar heals and Grant Green can also fill in.

If Aybar does go on the disabled list, the Angels would call up Josh Rutledge or Ryan Jackson from Triple-A.

Asked about the chances of that happening, Aybar said: “I feel good; I don’t think so. I can’t tell you for sure because it’s a hamstring. But I feel good, thankfully.”

  • Matt Shoemaker, undrafted out of Eastern Michigan University seven years ago, had his own bobblehead giveaway at Angel Stadium on Friday. The 28-year-old right-hander called it “an honor. It’s really humbling and an honor at the same time to say, ‘Hey, they wanted to make a bobblehead out of you.’ Pretty special.”
  • Right-handed reliever Chad Smith was claimed off waivers by the Marlins on Friday. The Angels signed Smith, 25, on May 8, then designated him for assignment on Wednesday to make room on the 40-man roster for outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
  • Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher returned to the team on Friday, after taking a couple days off to be with his daughter while she graduated high school. Triple-A pitching coach Erik Bennett filled for Butcher.
  • The organization will host 1,900 at-risk students at Angel Stadium on Monday, as part of an ongoing effort to keep children out of gangs. The kids got the invitation as a reward for improved school attendance and behavior and for staying out of gangs. It represents the largest group ever to attend an Orange County Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership (OC GRIP) Angels game.

Alden

Aybar still day-to-day with hamstring injury …

Angels shortstop Erick Aybar felt some tightness in his left hamstring while running down the first-base line in the fifth inning, prompting him to exit Thursday’s 12-2 win early.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he doesn’t expect Aybar to go on the disabled list, “but we will definitely make sure that he’s 100 percent before he gets back in our lineup.”

That could take at least a couple days.

“We can’t stress how important he is to our club,” Scioscia added, “so we have to err on the side of caution with him.”

Aybar, who has started each of the Angels’ first 48 games at shortstop, felt his hamstring grab on him while executing a squeeze bunt in the bottom of the fifth and jogged gingerly back to the dugout, prompting him to get replaced by Taylor Featherston in the top of the sixth.

The 31-year-old switch-hitter was batting .344 since May 3 and had settled into the Angels’ leadoff spot.

If Aybar ultimately has to miss an extended period, the Angels could probably call up Josh Rutledge or Ryan Jackson from Triple-A Salt Lake. One of them would share the position with Featherston, though Grant Green could also get some starts at shortstop, and Johnny Giavotella could be a candidate to bat leadoff.

“This guy’s as important as you want to talk about on our team,” Scioscia said of Aybar, who’s expected to at the very least miss Friday’s game.

Alden

Nieuwenhuis, Cowgill, Rasmus, Green, Morin, etc. …

The Angels acquired Kirk Nieuwenhuis from the Mets on Wednesday, and he’s expected to join the team for Thursday’s series opener against the Mets. The Angels will announce a corresponding move after the game. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he’ll get some at-bats against right-handed pitching.

Marc Krauss — another left-handed-hitting power bat — is the logical choice to get optioned to Triple-A for Nieuwenheuis, but that’s only if Collin Cowgill doesn’t instead land on the disabled list.Cowgill tried to swing the bat on Wednesday, but it appears he had some sort of setback. Cowgill is meeting with doctors again on Wednesday, and Scioscia called a DL stint “a possibility if he doesn’t turn the corner.”

Cowgill was scratched from the starting lineup on Sunday with pain in his right hand. An MRI on Monday called the ailment a joint sprain, and Cowgill took an anti-inflammatory shot that kept him away from baseball activities for 24 hours.

Some additional notes from today’s lineup, which has Grant Green starting over Johnny Giavotella at second base and both of Scioscia’s catchers — Chris Iannetta and Carlos Perez — playing together …

  • If Krauss gets optioned after Wednesday’s game, Green would essentially be the backup first baseman (though Kole Calhoun can also play first base). “He’s an infielder and he’s got range,” Scioscia said of Green at first base. “He’s been pretty comfortable at first base. He spent a lot of time there in the spring, and also down in Triple-A. He feels comfortable at first.”
  • Asked if second base is now based on day-to-day matchups, rather than Giavotella simply being the starter, Scioscia said: “Johnny’s still going to get a lot of playing time, but we’re still going to spot Grant in there and also Taylor [Featherston] at times. Johnny, even with this little downturn, there’s things he’s doing at the plate that are important. He’ll continue to get a lot of playing time at second.”
  • Scisocia started Iannetta at DH and Perez behind the plate, a risky move because if Perez somehow gets hurt, the Angels would lose their DH (or use an emergency third catcher, which is unlikely). Scioscia said he wants to get Chris some bats “because he was just kind of warming up and we hate to get him out of that rhythm when we also need to play Carlos.”
  • Cory Rasmus, out since undergoing surgery for what the team called a core injury in late March, is currently throwing in simulated games in Arizona. He’d still have to go out on a rehab assignment after that. “He would need a significant chunk of what Spring Training would be to get ready to pitch in the big leagues,” Scioscia said. Rasmus, the Angels’ long reliever last year, could start a rehab assignment in the next week or so.
  • Mike Morin, who landed on the disabled list with a left oblique strain on Saturday, “is getting better” but the recovery will take “weeks, not days,” Scisocia said. “It’s going to be a while.”

Alden

Pujols breathes a huge sigh of relief …

Albert Pujols thought for sure he was headed to the disabled list when he arrived at a local hospital late Wednesday night and saw the inside of his left hand swell up like a balloon, a result of the mid-90s fastball he absorbed a few minutes earlier.

But a CT scan ruled out a fracture, revealing only a bruise, and Pujols breathed a huge sigh of relief.

“My hand swelled up twice as much yesterday,” Pujols said. “I couldn’t feel my fingers. That’s the whole reason I came out of the game. I couldn’t grip the bat.”

About half the swelling had subsided by Thursday afternoon, but Pujols had a hard time gripping the bat, so Angels manager Mike Scioscia kept him out of the lineup for the finale of a four-game series at Rogers Centre. He hopes to return on Friday, when the Angels open up a weekend series at Fenway Park.

“I could’ve gone out there and played today,” Pujols said, “but one day won’t hurt it. If I feel good in less than 24 hours, I’ll play tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll feel, not 100 percent, but good enough to play where I can swing the bat.”

Pujols is off to a slow start, batting .231 with seven homers and 15 RBIs in his first 38 games. But the Angels’ struggling offense – 29th in the Majors in runs per game, 30th in OPS – can ill-afford to lose anyone for an extended period of time right now, especially not its No. 3 hitter.

Pujols got plunked by Drew Hutchison in the fourth inning and immediately figured he’d be coming out of the game. The 35-year-old first baseman ran the bases – and let out his anger on a late slide into second base – then stayed in for defense in the bottom half and couldn’t properly squeeze the glove while catching a throw on a double-play ball.

So Marc Krauss replaced Pujols as a pinch-hitter in the top of the fifth, then won the game with a two-run double two innings later.

Pujols is thankful the hit by pitch didn’t affect the area where he suffered a fractured left wrist in June 2011, an injury that kept him out a couple of weeks but occurred along the upper part of his forearm.

“My strength is there, but because it’s so swollen, I can’t grip the bottom part of my bat,” said Pujols, who had his left hand heavily wrapped. “You can be sore in your hamstring or your leg, but if it’s your hand and you can’t swing the bat, it’s hard. I don’t want to put myself in that situation. If it was Game 7 of the World Series, yeah, but we still have a long season.”

Alden

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