Results tagged ‘ Mike Trout ’

Where will Albert Pujols end up? …

Albert Pujols,

Albert Pujols hit home run Nos. 499 and 500 last night, as you know by now. He’s the 26th member of the 500-home run club, the third-youngest player to reach the milestone and the first to hit 499 and 500 in the same game. And he called his shot, too. Pujols’ homers came in a win, and he got the balls back from a couple of classy Angels fans. Perhaps the best part is that it comes as he’s proving to the world that he’s got a lot of game left, with a Major League-leading eight home runs to go along with a .274/.337/.619 slash line.

Pujols is signed for eight more years (including this one), through 2021. Here’s a look at where he’d finish up, if he plays through that contract, given certain home-run averages …

30-homer average: 732
25-homer average: 692
20-homer average: 652
15-homer average: 612

That’s pretty impressive, that Pujols could average a mere 15 homers for the life of his contract and still become only the ninth player ever to reach the 600-homer milestone. To catch Willie Mays‘ 660, he’d have to average 21 homers from 2014-21; to catch Babe Ruth‘s 714, he’d have to average nearly 28 homers; to catch Hank Aaron‘s 755, he’d have to average nearly 33 homers; to catch Barry Bonds‘ 762, he’d have to average nearly 34 homers.

But the most impressive thing about Pujols is that he isn’t defined by the home run.

He’s simply been a great hitter.

Consider: Pujols is only the ninth member of the 500-home run club with a career batting average of at least .300. And only three members have a higher one than Pujols’ current .321 clip — Ted Williams (.344), Babe Ruth (.342) and Jimmie Foxx (.325).

Yes, the general public has soured a bit on 500 homers, with Pujols becoming the 10th new member of the club in the last 15 years. But power numbers have gone down considerably in recent years, thanks in large part to tougher testing for performance-enhancing substances, and the 500-homer club — almost like the 300-win club, but not as drastic — could go a long time without a new member.

Here’s a look at the active home run leaders, beyond Alex Rodriguez (654) and Pujols, with their ages in parenthesis …

Adam Dunn (34): 444
Jason Giambi (43): 438
David Ortiz (38): 435
Paul Konerko (38): 434
Alfonso Soriano (38): 410
Adrian Beltre (35): 376
Carlos Beltran (37): 363
Aramis Ramirez (36): 357
Mark Teixeira (34): 341
Torii Hunter (38): 317

Besides maybe Dunn — and that’s still a big “maybe” — I don’t see anyone on that list who stands a chance at reaching 500. We may have to wait on the likes of Miguel Cabrera (367 at age 31) or Prince Fielder (287 at 29), or perhaps even Mike Trout (67 at 22) or Giancarlo Stanton (123 at 24).

And after Pujols — if he gets there — when’s the next time we’ll see 600?

“When you look at how great he’s been for the last 14 years, and you start averaging out what that meant to hit 500 home runs, it’s just an incredible feat,” Raul Ibanez said of Pujols. “Combine that with the lifetime batting average, the on-base percentage, it’s just extraordinary.”

Alden

Harper, Trout together again …

troutdc

Mike Trout and Bryce Harper will play against one another in a regular-season game today for the first time on Monday, the start of a three-game Interleague series between the Angels and Nationals in Washington, D.C. Before first pitch, Trout took part in a press conference to talk about his link to the Nats’ star outfielder. Here’s what he had to say …

Any family here?

Yeah, actually I do. Baltimore’s closer, but this is the most tickets I’ve ever left today (15).

How do you handle the comparisons, be it with Harper or Miguel Cabrera?

It’s not like we really compete against each other. We’re both trying to get hits, obviously. For me, if I try to do too much, that’s when I get in trouble. I’m just trying to win ballgames.

Appreciate interest fans have for this matchup?

Yeah, it’s good. We have some young talent in the league, [Manny] Machado, Harper, me. I can name a bunch of guys. To be a part about it, and playing on the same day in the same city, it’s pretty cool. It’s good for the fans.

Talking to him near the batting cage?

Yeah. It was the first time I’ve seen him in a while. It was just pretty cool to see him. We were just talking about some stuff; talking baseball.

Is it distracting to play close to home?

Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming because you want to see everybody and talk to everybody. But sometimes it’s tough. You have a lot of things to do, and you have to prepare for the game, obviously. But it’s cool when you’re in the outfield and stuff, or you’re on deck and you see some friends you haven’t seen in a while. I think it’s pretty cool.

Is it strange to also be linked to Cabrera?

I’m just trying to have good years, and it just so happened that at the end of my first two we were 1-2 in MVP. Just being linked with him makes me feel good. He’s a great player, obviously. Just being compared with him and other guys, that makes you feel good.

Do you like being compared to Harper ever since you both entered the league?

I kind of figured it. Ever since we were in the Fall League. … People are always going to get compared. It’s pretty cool being compared, not just Harper but the Hall of Fame guys like [Mickey] Mantle, guys like growing up, you watched them play. Guys that I haven’t seen play because I was born in ’91.

Ever catch yourself peeking at Harper’s stats?

Not really. I’m a guy that looks up friends. … All the guys. After the game, go on the MLB app or whatever and check out some highlights when I have a little downtime in the hotel.

What was your relationship like with Harper during the 2011 Arizona Fall League?

There was a lot of hype, but we were terrible. It’s just one of those things. I’m sure if you gave us that team again the year after that, we would’ve done better. There was just a lot of great players coming in from other organizations and playing on one team. … I made a lot of new friends there. It was cool.

What about Harper’s game impresses you?

He plays the game hard. He’s max-effort every time — besides that lack of hustle the other day. That’s the way they have it over there. If you don’t obey the rules, you’re going to pay the price. … I talked to him about it; he [knows] what he did wrong. We’re both trying to have fun and win ballgames.

Do you and Harper keep in touch during the season?

We’re not texting each other saying, ‘Keep your front side open’ or anything like that. If he does something good — like the other day, I shot him a text just messing around like, ‘A couple of guys in the clubhouse are wondering if you got jammed on that ball you hit down the line, the one that went in the third deck.’ Just small talk. Nothing crazy.

Alden

Mike Trout’s jersey cracks Top 20 …

The latest list of most popular jerseys was unveiled on Thursday morning, and Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz ranks first. That’s no surprise, given that numbers are based on sales in the offseason, after the 2013 World Series was concluded. Naturally, teammate and fellow champion Dustin Pedroia ranks second.

Mike Trout, meanwhile, ranks 14th. When the previous list came out in late September, based on sales following the 2013 All-Star Game, Trout was 10th. Both seem a little low for the game’s best all-around player and potential “face of baseball.” But overall team popularity plays a huge part in these numbers, which is a big reason why the Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Dodgers (2), Cardinals (2) and Rangers (2) have more than one current representative.

Here’s the full list …

1. Ortiz
2. Pedroia
3. Derek Jeter (NYY)
4. Yadier Molina (StL)
5. Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
6. Andrew McCutchen (PIT)
7. Buster Posey (SFG)
8. David Wright (NYM)
9. Robinson Cano (NYY/SEA)
10. Manny Machado (BAL)
11. Yasiel Puig (LAD)
12. Bryce Harper (WAS)
13. Miguel Cabrera (DET)
14. Trout
15. Matt Harvey (NYM)
16. Prince Fielder (DET/TEX)
17. Adam Wainwright (StL)
18. Koji Uehara (BOS)
19. Yu Darvish (TEX)
20. Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS/NYY)

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

Angels, Mike Trout agree on six-year deal …

The Angels and superstar center fielder Mike Trout are close to finalizing a six-year contract extension that’s worth slightly more than $140 million, industry sources told MLB.com on Friday.

The deal, which would buy out Trout’s three arbitration years and his first three years of free agency, includes no additional option years.

The Angels have not confirmed.

Trout, 22, established himself as the best all-around player in baseball the last two seasons, posting a .324/.416/.560 slash line with 57 homers, 238 runs scored, 82 stolen bases and a Major League-best 20.4 Wins Above Replacement, as calculated by FanGraphs.com.

In 2012 and ’13, Trout finished second in American League Most Valuable Player Award voting to Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, who just signed an eight-year, $248 million extension of his own.

In late February, the Angels and Trout agreed on a $1 million contract for 2014 – the highest ever for a pre-arbitration player. His extension will make him a free agent again at age 29 and doesn’t kick in until the start of the 2015 season.

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

All’s still quiet on the Mike Trout extension front …

Mike TroutVery little has been reported with regards to a potential Mike Trout extension ever since the Angels’ 22-year-old center fielder agreed on a $1 million for 2014 (a record for a pre-arbitration player).

Is that good or bad?

“I haven’t heard anything, either,” Trout said. “Is that good or bad? Uh, I don’t know if it’s good or bad. I’m just getting ready for the season, worried about getting off to a good start.”

The Angels have been very tight-lipped about talks and Trout’s agent, Craig Landis, typically keeps everything close to the vest. Asked if there’s any reason to think things have hit a snag because it hasn’t happened yet, Trout, who’s uncomfortable talking contract, said, “No, no. … We’re getting ready for the season.”

Trout landed awkwardly on a dive attempt on Sunday, then struck out looking in his next two plate appearances and was the only everyday player who wasn’t in the Angels’ lineup on Monday.

But he felt fine.

“It was all right,” Trout said. “It scared me more than anything. But I think the rug burn hurt more than the fall. I’m not sore or anything today. Good to go. I dived, when I rolled, the glove came off my hand. That’s the first time that’s ever happened to me. Usually I just slide. If the glove didn’t come off, I would have caught it. Seen a lot of injuries happen like that.”

Here are some notes from Monday morning (lineup here) …

  • The tentative pitching schedule the rest of the week: Jered Weaver will pitch in a Minor League game on Tuesday, C.J. Wilson will start against the A’s in Phoenix on Wednesday, Hector Santiago will go against the Dodgers on Thursday, Joe Blanton will start against the Dodgers on Friday, Garrett Richards will start the Freeway Series finale on Saturday and Tyler Skaggs will start Sunday (an off day; so probably in a Minor League game or sim game of some sort).
  • Obviously, Weaver is the Opening Day starter. But Mike Scioscia won’t announce it until he comes out of his last session OK.
  • The Angels will not be opening the season with an eight-man bullpen. Scioscia floated the idea earlier in spring, but that was never really much of a possibility.
  • Asked about opening the season with an all-righty bullpen, with Brian Moran (left elbow inflammation) and Sean Burnett (recovery from August forearm surgery) slated to open the season on the disabled list, Scioscia said: “In our bullpen things are still taking shape. [Jose] Alvarez really looked good down there and he’ll pitch for us at some point this week. [Nick] Maronde has shown well. Those guys, I think they’re all in the general mix of pitchers. But again, we’re not going to take a lefty just to take a lefty. We’re going to take a lefty who’s functional and will get a lefty out to hold a lead. If that emerges, great. If it doesn’t, we’ll just see where our bullpen is.”
  • Asked if he needs to have somebody out of the bullpen who can pitch multiple innings, Scioscia said: “That’s ideal, but mainly we need a guy who can hold leads. With the off days we have in April [they have seven of the first eight Thursdays off], hopefully we can get going without having to have that traditional length in the bullpen.”
  • As for the bench? My prediction is the same one I’ve had since the start of spring: Hank Conger, John McDonald, Ian Stewart, Collin Cowgill. Obviously, though, J.B. Shuck is a prime candidate after a great rookie season last year. And Matt Long has had a very good spring (though he still looks like a longshot). Scioscia was, predictably, non-committal. “There’s so many combinations that we’re looking at right now,” Scioscia said. “Obviously we’re going to need a versatile infielder, your second catcher will be on the bench. And how those other bats fall in will be something that we’re going to determine this week.”
  • Chris Iannetta is expected to get the majority of time behind the plate this season, though Conger will get plenty of time. “Chris has shown the ability to catch a little bit more, but I think also the ability to have Hank to balance that and take a little pressure off Chris from having to extend himself will keep Chris fresh and keep Hank productive,” Scioscia said. “But they’re both going to get plenty of playing time.”
  • Most of the Angels will fly out of Tempe, Ariz., on Tuesday night and work out at Angel Stadium on Wednesday (the day of the last Cactus League game).

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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