Results tagged ‘ Scott Downs ’

Question of the Day, 7/25 …

Any indication the Angels will sell next week? — @ChrisSexton

All indications continue to point to a relatively quiet next six days for the Angels, leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Things change really fast this time of year. Teams get desperate, sentiments change, and there’s always the possibility that the Angels are blown away by an offer.

But here’s something you can pretty much count on: They won’t be picking up any rentals, a la Zack Greinke in 2012. And they’re not really going to be “sellers,” per se, because the construction of their roster — most notably Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols — doesn’t really allow for that. Somewhere in the middle is where I’d put them. If they can find a good deal for Scott Downs, they’ll probably take it. In August, if they don’t make progress in the standings, they can also look to trade Jason Vargas — at that point, they’d have to put him through waivers first — if he pitches well in his return from the DL.

And if there’s a deal they really like, which would allow them to turn an offensive player into controllable starting pitching, they’ll take it.

That deal hasn’t presented itself yet. And the chances of it coming this month are highly unlikely. That may have to wait until the offseason.

As one person familiar with the Angels’ thinking said recently, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they made just one minor trade.”

Alden

Trumbo saves a game with his glove …

How big was Mark Trumbo‘s eighth-inning play?

“That’s a base hit, it’s going to be a 5-3 game, and you’re going to have first-and-third, and you’re going to have one out,” Mike Scioscia said. “Does [Scott] Downs work out of the rest? We don’t know. But believe me, it made it set up a lot easier for us making the play.”

Trumbo lunged to his right, snared a bullet one-hopper off the bat of David Freese, fired to Erick Aybar at second base and watched his shortstop throw to a streaking Downs, who got to first base just in the nick of time to get the inning-ending double play that got the Angels out of a bases-loaded jam and keyed a seventh straight win.

If for just a split second, Downs hesitates getting to first base because he assumes the ball gets through, the second out doesn’t take place — and who knows what happens from there.

“And we’ve all done that in the past,” Downs said. “We’ve all been late to get to first, and it’s just one of things where, throwing so many ground balls, it’s almost like it’s a natural instinct. The first step is just to get over there, and Trumbo made a great play on it.”

Healthy, two-time Gold Glover Albert Pujols perhaps makes that play. Hobbled Pujols? Probably not. OK, definitely not.

“That was a heck of a play to make,” Pujols said. “That was the savior of the game right there.”

Asked where that ranks for him in terms of defensive plays, Trumbo said: “Considering the situation, probably up there pretty high.” It was especially nice considering his recent struggles at the plate, which moved him down to the No. 6 spot of the lineup for Tuesday’s series opener. Trumbo had an RBI single in the second inning, but he struck out his other three times and is now batting .203 with 35 strikeouts in his last 36 games.

“You have to bring something to the table,” Trumbo said. “If you’re not hitting, you really need to hunker down and contribute in some way. If that’s defense, it makes you feel pretty good.”

Alden

Game 58: Astros-Angels …

Astros (20-37)

HOU2Brandon Barnes, CF
Jose Altuve, 2B
Jason Castro, C
J.D. Martinez, LF
Carlos Pena, DH
Chris Carter, 1B
Jimmy Paredes, RF
Matt Dominguez, 3B
Marwin Gonzalez, SS

SP: LH Erik Bedard (0-2, 5.32 ERA)

Angels (25-32)

laaErick Aybar, SS
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, DH
Mark Trumbo, RF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Chris Iannetta, C
Brendan Harris, 1B
J.B. Shuck, LF

SP: RH Joe Blanton (1-8, 5.94 ERA)

  • Josh Hamilton, in case you hadn’t noticed, has the day off today. He isn’t hurt. Angels manager Mike Scioscia wanted to give him a “a recharge day” (and the fact their facing a lefty made this a good opportunity). Hamilton probably won’t be available to pinch-hit, either. It’s only expected to be for one day. “We need him to get into his game, and I think we’ve been trying to grind it and get him there and it’s just not quite getting far enough where we’d want him to. And so we’re going to take a day, take that half-step back and get him to take two steps forward.”
  • Garrett Richards, who left Sunday’s game with a mild left ankle sprain, “feels a little better today,” Scioscia said. They’re not sure if he’ll be available tonight, though.
  • Scott Downs will get in a game either today or tomorrow. He hasn’t pitched in a game in eight days, mainly because he’s the only lefty currently in the ‘pen and Scioscia wants to make sure he gets the most out of him.
  • Ryan Madson played catch today, but he still has a ways to go before hopping back up on a bullpen. Yep.
  • Peter Bourjos will start in center field for Class A Inland Empire on Monday night, as expected.
  • A bunch of content on the site already from earlier today, on Trout topping AL outfielders in All-Star votes, Jason Vargas winning AL Pitcher of the Month, a look at the upcoming Draft, and the reason why the Angels haven’t played to their potential.

Alden

Game 29: Orioles-Angels …

Orioles (17-12)

BALNolan Reimold, LF
Manny Machado, 3B
Nick Markakis, RF
Adam Jones, CF
Chris Davis, 1B
Matt Wieters, C
J.J. Hardy, SS
Steve Pearce, DH
Alexi Casilla, 2B

SP: RH Miguel Gonzalez (2-1, 4.60 ERA)

Angels (10-18)

laaErick Aybar, SS
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Mark Trumbo, RF
Josh Hamilton, DH
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Chris Iannetta, C
J.B. Shuck, LF

SP: LH Jason Vargas (0-3, 4.85)

  • As you might have noticed, Callaspo was activated off the disabled prior to Friday’s game. But going down was Andrew Romine, not Luis Jimenez. Mike Scioscia likes having a power right-handed bat off the bench like Jimenez — it’s essentially the role Bill Hall was going to play, before he got hurt in Spring Training — and he feels Brendan Harris can be used as a utility infielder. A big question with this decision, however, is Harris’ defense. It’s not his strong suit. Offense is. Romine was a much more capable defender. And maybe Jimenez would’ve benefited from some more at-bats in the Minors to polish up his approach, which has led to a lot of strikeouts at this level.
  • In tune with his new role, Jimenez was getting some work in left field pregame. Scioscia said right now he’s only comfortable using Jimenez there in an “emergency” situation, but perhaps that can change if he gets better at it.
  • Garrett Richards is going back to the bullpen, with Jerome Williams taking his spot in the rotation on Sunday. The move makes sense on a couple of fronts. First and foremost, the Angels need a relief pitcher to bridge the gap to the later innings, and Richards can do that in what he said is “a primary role” in the back end. Williams has struggled as a starting pitcher in recent outings, but he’s been really good in long relief lately.
  • Sean Burnett said today that he’s going to fly to Florida to see Dr. James Andrews on Monday morning. After that, he’ll fly to Houston to rejoin the team on their two-city trip. The lefty reliever, out since April 27 with left forearm irritation, didn’t sound very concerned. But it’s always frightening when pitchers see Dr. Andrews, so it’s definitely something worth monitoring.
  • It looks like Scott Downs (pain in his right side) will avoid the DL. At least for now. He probably won’t be available Friday, but Scioscia is going to have him go through his normal pregame nonetheless.
  • Mark Lowe (left neck strain) will pitch two innings for Class A Inland Empire on Sunday. He’s eligible to be activated that day, so that may be Lowe’s final outing before rejoining the team.
  • Shortstop Tommy Field suffered a broken finger shortly after he was sent down on April 23. He’s on the 7-day Minor League DL and could miss a month.

Alden

Game 26: Angels-Athletics …

The Angels’ 19-inning loss last night was a devastating one, but it was also quite memorable. It was the longest game in Angels history — A’s, too — and it witnessed several encouraging performances. Tommy Hanson pitched six innings of two-run ball with a heavy heart, Chris Iannetta squatted for 19 innings behind the plate, Mark Trumbo hit a 475-foot homer that was tied for the longest in the Majors this season, Albert Pujols had four hits, went deep twice and played the field despite having plantar fasciitis on his left foot, and Jerome Williams hurled six innings of one-run ball in relief.

Still, though, the Angels were in no mood to reminisce on Tuesday.

“I don’t feel any nostalgia towards it,” Trumbo said. “It’s all about winning, and we didn’t do it.”

Angels (9-16)

CALErick Aybar, SS
Mike Trout, CF
Pujols, DH
Trumbo, 1B
Josh Hamilton, RF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Hank Conger, C
Brendan Harris, 3B
J.B. Shuck, LF

SP: RH Garrett Richards (1-1, 3.65 ERA)

Athletics (15-12)

OAKJohn Jaso, DH
Adam Rosales, SS
Seth Smith, LF
Yoenis Cespedes, CF
Brandon Moss, 1B
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Josh Reddick, RF
Derek Norris, C
Eric Sogard, 2B

SP: RH Jarrod Parker (0-4, 8.10 ERA)

  • The Angels officially placed Peter Bourjos on the disabled list today with a strained left hamstring, activating Aybar. Also, outfielder Scott Cousins had his contract purchased from Triple-A Salt Lake and Michael Roth was sent down. The Angels’ 40-man roster is back at 40, and the Angels are back to the traditional seven relievers and four-man bench — despite the fact seven relievers accounted for 12 2/3 innings the night before. “Really, we’re as banged up on the lineup side,” Mike Scioscia said.
  • It looks like only Jerome Williams and Michael Kohn will be unavailable tonight. Ernesto Frieri is good to go, as are Barry Enright, Dane De La Rosa, Nick Maronde and Scott Downs.
  • Luis Jimenez‘s bruised left shin is “a little tight,” Scioscia said, but he may be available to play defense. If the Angels get a lead late, don’t be surprised to see him sub in for Harris at third.
  • Still no time frame on how long Bourjos’ hamstring will keep him out. Obviously, as a speed guy, he needs that to be 100 percent before returning.
  • Ryan Madson is still not throwing.
  • Jimenez has some experience in the outfield from winter ball, so that may be an option for him once Alberto Callaspo returns.

Alden

Question of the Day, 4/29 …

Is there ANY hope for this bullpen? Trades? Minors? WEAVER?!?!?!??!??? — @jasiahsdad

Whoa, easy buddy. I know you’re frustrated, but I don’t think transitioning the Angels’ ace to the bullpen is the answer here — but point taken. Unless Jerry Dipoto can pull another early-season miracle — acquiring Ernesto Frieri from the Padres in early May last year was really, really hard — it is what it is, basically. There aren’t many (if any) teams that can stomach having four relievers (Ryan Madson, Sean Burnett, Kevin Jepsen and Mark Lowe) on the disabled list at the same time. The Angels have just three members of the Opening Day bullpen available as relievers right now — Jerome Williams, Frieri and Scott Downs. Think about that. For as well as Dane De La Rosa has pitched, it’s tough to count on him on an everyday basis to come through in tight situations. But that’s where the Angels are, because of all the injuries and because the starters — until just recently — have struggled. Sure, they can put in a waiver claim or two, spin a few minor trades, but nothing that’s going to change the landscape down there. For the most part, they just have to wear it — while hoping for more depth from the rotation, lots of production from the offense and a quick return to health. Sorry if that’s not the answer you’re looking for.

Alden

Opening Day: Angels-Reds …

Welcome to Great American Ball Park, home of the first ever interleague matchup on Opening Day and the scene where the Angels will kick off another highly anticipated season …

Angels (0-0)

laaMike Trout, CF
Erick Aybar, SS
Albert Pujols, 1B
Josh Hamilton, RF
Mark Trumbo, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Chris Iannetta, C
Jered Weaver, SP

Reds (0-0)

REDSShin-Soo Choo, CF
Brandon Phillips, 2B
Joey Votto, 1B
Ryan Ludwick, LF
Jay Bruce, RF
Todd Frazier, 3B
Zack Cozart, SS
Ryan Hanigan, C
Johnny Cueto, SP

Some pregame notes …

  • Chris Snyder could’ve opted out of his Minor League deal with the Angels, but the veteran catcher instead accepted his assignment to Triple-A Salt Lake, increasing the Angels’ depth behind the plate. Snyder will be on a Salt Lake Bees roster that also includes John Hester and Luke Carlin, with the three of them rotation between catcher, DH and bench duty. Snyder will also play some first base.
  • Mike Scioscia, on where Garrett Richards‘ role in the bullpen is: He’s much more than just an innings-eater in the ‘pen. His power arm is something we can take a look at at any point in the game.” Ernesto Frieri, Scott Downs and Sean Burnett are ahead of him in the depth chart, but it could change if he pitches well.
  • Scioscia said he “would anticipate” that Pujols would play all three games at first base in this series. The day off certainly helps.
  • Ryan Madson is away from throwing, still experiencing some tightness in his elbow, but Scioscia expects him to get back on the mound in a couple days.
  • Trout has about 10 family and friends at Great American Ball Park for his first Major League Opening Day. “It a feeling you really can’t explain,” he said.

Some Opening Day numbers …

  • The Angels have won eight of their last nine Opening Day games, including four straight, which ties a franchise record.
  • This is Weaver’s fourth straight Opening Day start and fifth overall, joining Mike Witt as the only pitcher to start five Opening Days for the Angels. Weaver is 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA on Day 1.
  • Hamilton made his debut in this stadium almost exactly six years ago (April 2, 2007, in Cincy).
  • The Angels are the only team in the Majors to open the 2013 season with three straight series against playoff teams (Reds, Rangers, A’s). That actually hasn’t been done since ’07 (Giants and Orioles).
  • This is the third series all-time played between the Angels and Reds, and first since 2007. The Angels have won four of six.
  • Angels’ 74-34 record in Interleague Play since 2007 leads the Majors.
  • Aybar and Kendrick are making their fifth straight Opening Day start together up the middle, the longest active active Opening Day start streak by a middle-infield tandem in the Majors. Today, Kendrick passed Bobby Knoop for most consecutive Opening Day starts by an Angels second baseman.
  • The Angels’ first road trip has six different times (all local): 4:10, 7:10, 12:35, 1:05, 3:05, 7:05.
  • Pujols’ career 143 RBIs and 46 homers against the Reds rank second among active players.

Alden

Previewing the 2013 season …

ANGELS

Come Monday, Jered Weaver will be making his fourth straight Opening Day start, Josh Hamilton‘s reunion tour will begin and the Angels will (once again) try to cash in on the grand expectations they carry into the season.

Before that happens, here’s a station-to-station look at where they stand heading into what should be a very fun 2013 …

Position players: I don’t see a way this team won’t be among the top three in runs scored in the American League this season. From mid-May to the end of the season last year, when Mike Trout arrived in more ways than one and Albert Pujols remembered he’s Albert Freakin’ Pujols, the Angels led the Majors in runs per game. And that was without Hamilton, mind you. The Angels have three dynamic speed guys (Peter Bourjos-Trout-Erick Aybar) and three lethal power hitters (Pujols-Hamilton-Mark Trumbo) all conveniently lining up together. The rest of the guys (Howie Kendrick, Alberto Callaspo, Chris Iannetta) don’t need to be anything more than themselves for the Angels to be an offensive juggernaut. Defensively, Trout-Bourjos-Hamilton could be the best defensive outfield in baseball (which tailors perfectly to their flyball-heavy pitching staff) and the infield is solid at every position.

WEAVERStarters: Angels starters got their necessary work this spring, but just barely. Spring Training may not teach us much, but it certainly didn’t quell any apprehensions about this rotation. Everyone except the no-walks Joe Blanton struggled at some point, with Weaver, Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson all bringing temporary concerns that they wouldn’t have enough stamina heading into the regular season. But they do, and most importantly, they’re all healthy. Are they good enough to match one of the best offenses in baseball? No. Will they be adequate enough to eat innings (so the ‘pen doesn’t get worn out) and keep the Angels in games (with the lineup taking care of the rest)? That’s the plan. The key: C.J. Wilson, the $77.5 million No. 2 starter who should be a lot better than his 2012 second half.

Relievers: The Angels are deeper here, with or without Ryan Madson (who is still on track to return in late April or early May, barring another setback). They’ve added arguably the best free-agent lefty available in Sean Burnett, will have a full season of Ernesto Frieri, are banking on Kevin Jepsen‘s last three months being no fluke and, along with Scott Downs, seemingly have four formidable options to protect leads late in games. There’s also the high-upside Garrett Richards, coming off a great spring, the hard-throwing Mark Lowe, who the Angels have targeted since November, and the veteran Jerome Williams. Many will point to last year’s 22 blown saves as the biggest reason the Angels ultimately missed the playoffs, and this year, they’re better in the ‘pen. But that’s on paper. Relievers are a very unpredictable species.

Reserves: If all their everyday players stay healthy, this won’t be much of a factor, particularly in the AL. Chances are, though, injuries will happen. And given that, the Angels took a step back with regards to their bench (though if you’re going to pick one area to downgrade, this would be it). Without Vernon Wells, they don’t have any real power threat in reserve — besides Hank Conger, but he’s the backup catcher — and are pretty darn young. Andrew Romine takes over for the seasoned Maicer Izturis and Conger, awfully talented but coming off a spring soured by throwing woes, has spent most of the last three years in Triple-A. Contact-hitting lefty outfielder J.B. Shuck is the third player on this bench making his first Opening Day roster. The last reserve, veteran infielder Brendan Harris, hasn’t been in the big leagues since 2010.

Depth: The Angels’ farm system is dead last in all of baseball, according to ESPN and Baseball America. But those in the organization will tell you that mostly has to do with pitching; their position-player talent is just fine. Furthermore, the Angels’ front office is confident they’ve built more depth in the upper levels to serve as insurance in 2013. The Triple-A roster has several players with Major League experience, such as Luis Rodriguez, Tommy Field, Scott Cousins, Trent Oeltjen, Chris Snyder (possibly), John Hester, Luke Carlin, Mitch Stetter and Fernando Cabrera. But with Richards’ length shortened in the ‘pen, and Williams’ workload unpredictable as a swing man, where do the Angels turn if something happens to one of their starters? Barry Enright, Billy Buckner, Matt Shoemaker and the young A.J. Schugel figure to make up the Salt Lake Bees’ rotation.

Financials: The Angels’ payroll sits under $150 million, thanks to the Yankees taking on $11.5 million of Wells’ 2013 salary in the recent trade. The deal also bought them some luxury tax flexibility. Prior to the deal, the Angels’ Competitive Balance Tax payroll — which takes into account the average annual value of all 40-man roster salaries, plus benefits and performance bonuses at the end of the season — was $178 million, the threshold at which first-time offenders are taxed 17.5 percent by Major League Baseball. Now, it’s about $172M, giving them some flexibility to take on salary in an in-season trade. Last year, after acquiring Zack Greinke, their CBT payroll was at $178 million, which affected their pursuit of some necessary relief-pitching help.

Underlying theme: Expectations can do some funny things, and it’ll be interesting to see how the magnitude of it all will play into how the Angels go about — and react to — their second year under the microscope. Will it affect them out of the gate? Will it bring turmoil in the clubhouse, especially now that Torii Hunter is gone? Can it cause more tension between Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia, who have their philosophical differences and were at odds at times last season? And what will it lead Arte Moreno to do if they miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season?

Questions

In addition to Trumbo at DH, how much time do you think he will get a first base and right field, giving Pujols and Hamilton a day to rest their legs? (Stephen H., San Luis Obispo)

SOSHPlenty. And if I had to pin a number on it, I’d say there’s a very good chance — even if everyone stays healthy — that Trumbo spends about half his time playing the field. If he’s hitting, he’ll be in the lineup for all the Angels’ Interleague games. For a good chunk of April, with Pujols in the early stages of his return from offseason knee surgery, he figures to play plenty of first base. With Wells gone, he’s also the fourth outfielder. And fundamentally, with so much money tied to Hamilton and Pujols long-term, Scioscia will get them off their feet as often as necessary now that he has a revolving door at DH (that wasn’t very feasible with Kendrys Morales there last year).

Do you see the day when the Angels move Trout down in the batting order and put Bourjos, if he can cut it, in the leadoff spot? (Albert H., Los Angeles)

I do. Scioscia continues to say Trout profiles better in the middle of the order, the reason being that you want your best hitter to be in as many RBI situations as possible. The makeup of the Angels’ lineup right now — with Pujols, Hamilton and Trumbo in the middle of the order, and no clear solution in the leadoff spot just yet — means Trout is the best fit to bat first. You can argue that the Angels’ everyday lineup doesn’t figure to change much any time soon, with almost everyone in the books long term. But Trout is the kind of player you construct a lineup around, and his bat figures to eventually become too potent to not put in the 3 spot.

Is this the year the Angels finally get back to the playoffs and make a deep run? (Samuel M., Tempe, Ariz.)

Who knows. I do think that, on paper, they are the best team in the AL West and should win the division. Once you get in the playoffs, it’s a crapshoot. The sample size is too small. But 162 games is not a small sample size, and if the Angels stay healthy, there is no excuse for not taking the division crown. The Rangers’ lineup took a step back, replacing Hamilton with Lance Berkman, and the pitching staff won’t have Neftali Feliz, Colby Lewis or Joakim Soria to start the season. The A’s are deep, but will need a lot of guys to over-perform again. It’s nice to see the Mariners spending money, but they still have holes and concerns all over the place. And the Astros are a last-place team. But who am I kidding — predicting a baseball season is a foolish act.

Now, at last, we can see how it all plays out on the field.

Don’t forget, you can also follow me on Instagram and Google+.

Alden

So, who rounds out the Angels’ bullpen? …

Remember all that talk about the Angels’ bullpen being deeper, better heading into 2013? Well, that’ll probably be the case eventually, but leading up to Opening Day, a setback and some spring disappointments have made it a bit difficult to identify the seven relievers who will begin the regular season with the big club.

With 17 days left until the April 1 opener in Cincinnati, and Ryan Madson opening the season on the disabled list, five relievers are still set: righties Kevin Jepsen and Ernesto Frieri, lefties Sean Burnett and Scott Downs, and long man Jerome Williams.

That leaves two spots and some haziness because …

Michael Kohn, who progressed very quickly from April 2012 Tommy John surgery, has struggled with mechanics and off-speed pitches in recent outings and was optioned to Minor League camp on Friday.

Hiroyuki Kobayashi, signed as a Minor League free agent from Japan, was released in early March because he wasn’t throwing as hard as they expected.

Bobby Cassevah — homegrown, out of options and coming off a rough 2012 — cleared waivers and opted for free agency, eventually hooking on with the Rockies.

Veteran Tony Pena had a setback from Tommy John and is trying to work through it in Minor League camp.

Lefty Brandon Sisk, acquired for Ervin Santana and most of his salary, was sent down about a week ago.

Fernando Cabrera, another veteran obtained on a Minor League deal, has spent most of the spring pitching for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic (2 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 SO).

Andrew Taylor, the lefty who had a very brief stint with the Angels as a September callup, has a slight tear in his labrum and won’t pitch for a while. Granted, he didn’t really have a chance anyway.

With that out of the way, here are the options the Angels are left with (keep in mind that the seventh relief spot — the team hopes — may only be relevant for a few weeks, until Madson comes off the DL) …

Garrett Richards

I identified him early in camp as a guy who seems poised to land a full-year bullpen spot, and more than a month in, there’s no reason to change my mind. Yes, his future is best as a starter. Yes, the Angels will preserve starting-pitching depth by keeping Richards stretched out in the Minors. Yes, Richards struggled as a reliever last year. But Richards’ stuff plays as a reliever, he should be better if his role remains consistent, it’s time for him to be up in the big leagues for a full season, and putting him on the roster gives the Angels their best 25 heading into the season (I don’t think that’s up for dispute). Besides, they have better rotation depth 6-10 than they did last year.

Nick Maronde

In some ways, Maronde’s situation is quite the opposite of Richards’ — his future is probably as a reliever, but it’s probably best to keep him stretched out in the Minors. Why? He’s still developing and the Angels don’t need another lefty. Even with how camp has gone, I still expect Maronde to start for Triple-A Salt Lake, getting some valuable experience heading into a potential bullpen role in 2014 (with Downs a lingering free agent).

David Carpenter

That last spot may be Carpenter’s to lose at this point. In 2012, the 25-year-old right-hander posted a 4.76 ERA in 39 2/3 innings in the big leagues and a 2.75 ERA in 19 2/3 innings in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. But he hasn’t really stuck out this spring, giving up three runs on seven hits and four walks in 6 1/3 innings.

Chad Cordero

“The Chief” is a fantastic story, but he can’t really make the team out of Spring Training … right? “Never say never,” one member of the organization said. He is still in camp, and he bounced back in his last outing five days ago. Still, though, a long, long shot.

Others

Lefty Mitch Stetter, the longtime Brewers reliever, hasn’t pitched yet because of a bulging disk in his back that was bothering him early in camp, but he’s expected to get in a game at some point this weekend. … Robert Coello, 28, appeared in six games with the Blue Jays last year and has given up five runs in 2 2/3 innings this spring. … Kevin Johnson, who posted a 3.69 ERA in the Angels’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates last year, has given up four runs in 5 2/3 Cactus League innings.

Outside help? 

The likes of Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Valverde and Brian Wilson, among others, are still out there, and the Angels do have an open spot on the 40-man. Not sure anyone available is an upgrade, though.

 — Alden 

Angels 12, White Sox 4 …

Mike Trout, Mike Scioscia

Angels starters put together a nice game on Thursday — perhaps the most complete game of a spring that had only produced three victories through the first 17 Cactus League contests.

The first three members of the lineup (Mike Trout, Howie Kendrick and Albert Pujols) combined to go 6-for-9 with five runs scored. The starting pitcher (Jason Vargas) gave up a run in 4 2/3 innings. And the Angels played a solid game defensively, which had eluded them most of the month.

“Some guys are starting to get into their 15th, 20th at-bat, and they’re starting to see the ball the way they should,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’re swinging the bats well and running the bases well. We have to keep building from this, and as spring moves on, we have to keep building our bullpen and getting guys where they need. That’s going to be critical for us.”

The good

Trout is in midseason form, it seems. He homered to lead off the game, just missed a homer his second time up — resulting in a double, which gave him an extra-base hit in four straight at-bats — and stole a base after reaching on a fielder’s choice in his last plate appearance. He’s batting .407 this spring.

Kendrick is on a tear, as he usually is this time a year, hitting a triple and a double to put his spring batting average at .485.

Pujols had a couple of singles in three at-bats, giving him a .429 clip, and ran for himself for the second straight day.

Vargas bounced back from a rough start against the Rockies, giving up a run on two hits while striking out five and putting his pitch count in the high 60’s in 4 2/3 innings. He liked the way his off-speed pitches were working.

The bad

Scott Downs gave up a solo homer to Dewayne Wise in the sixth, and though it was the only hit, he was hit hard in his lone frame of work.

Kevin Johnson, still vying for a bullpen spot, gave up two runs on four hits in the ninth.

Best play (that I saw)

The Angels made a couple of nifty catches on foul pop-ups to end the third inning. Hank Conger raced to the backstop, contorted his body and made the catch for out No. 2, and Alberto Callaspo reached over the dugout railing for out No. 3.

Best quote

Vargas, on adjustments he made coming off an outing in which he allowed four runs in three innings to the Rockies: “I think that last start, I kept throwing fastballs and was really trying to get it down in the strike zone. I was leaving them up and getting hammered for it. We tried to work on that in the bullpen mid-week, and when the game comes it’s just trying to get them out.”

Alden

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