Results tagged ‘ Sean Burnett ’

Hamilton can start swinging again by Friday …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some pregame notes …

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

Athletics (8-4)

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

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

Angels (6-6)

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

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

Alden

Mike Scioscia is running out of lefties …

Mike SciosciaThe Angels have found out they’ll be without one of their situational lefties and now have no idea when they’ll get back the other.

Brian Moran, acquired in the Rule 5 Draft, is set to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery, the Angels announced early Tuesday afternoon. A few hours after that, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Sean Burnett, signed to a two-year, $8 million contract in December 2012, has been temporarily shut down from his throwing program.

Burnett was limited to 13 appearances last year and underwent elbow surgery in August. He threw in a simulated game at Angel Stadium on Wednesday, then pitched in another sim game in Arizona on Saturday, and hasn’t thrown since.

“It’s really going to be just day-to-day to see when he can pick it up,” Scioscia said. “He’s trying to get over the hump of some residual soreness that pops up here and there.”

With Moran undergoing a procedure that usually carries a 12-month recovery for pitchers, and Burnett’s status up in the air, the Angels are left with Nick Maronde (in the Majors), Buddy Boshers (Triple-A), Robert Carson (Triple-A) and Brandon Sisk (Double-A) as situational-lefty options for a lefty-heavy American League West. Jose Alvarez, acquired in exchange for infielder Andrew Romine during Spring Training, is starting in Triple-A but has worked out of the bullpen in the past.

On Burnett, Scioscia said: “I don’t think you’re at a point of writing anybody off, but there’s certainly a question right know of when he’s going to be back. You can’t count on him until he gets to be 100 percent, and he’s not there yet.”

Angels (3-4)

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
David Freese, 3B
Josh Hamilton, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Chris Iannetta, C
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: LH Hector Santiago (0-1, 7.20 ERA)

Mariners (4-2)

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

SP: LH James Paxton (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Alden

Burnett ‘needs a little bit of work’ …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Angels (1-3)

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

SP: LH Tyler Skaggs (0-0, -.– ERA)

Astros (2-2)

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

SP: LH Dallas Keuchel (0-0, -.– ERA)

Alden

De La Rosa, Burnett throw in sim game …

Dane De La RosaKey Angels relievers Dane De La Rosa and Sean Burnett took important steps in their respective rehab programs while taking part in simulated games at Angel Stadium early Wednesday afternoon.

Not a moment too soon.

The Angels’ bullpen has started the year by giving up eight runs over six innings through the first two games, with closer Ernesto Frieri and setup man Joe Smith sitting idly by as the middle relievers struggled to keep small deficits manageable. On Monday, Kevin Jepsen and Nick Maronde gave up six runs in the ninth. On Tuesday, Michael Kohn gave up two more in the ninth.

But by the time the Angels play their next home game — on April 11 against the Mets, following a six-game road trip through Houston and Seattle — De La Rosa expects to be back.

“I’m getting antsy,” said De La Rosa, who’s working his way back from a right forearm strain suffered on March 6. “When we get everybody healthy, together at the same time, we’re going to be a shutdown bullpen.”

Before April comes to an end, Burnett — limited to 13 games last year, recovering from August elbow surgery — also hopes to return, giving the Angels a critical late-inning lefty reliever.

“I just want to get out there and play,” Burnett said. “I’m a baseball player. It’s been what I’ve doing since I was a little kid. I’m itching to get back out there.”

De La Rosa, who has already taken part in a couple of Minor League games, threw roughly 35 pitches in the bullpen and 25 more to hitters knew what was coming ahead of time. When the Angels hit the road, De La Rosa will venture out on a rehab assignment with Double-A Arkansas in hopes of being activated by next Friday.

Burnett threw 30-some-odd pitches in the bullpen and another 15 in the sim game. It was his first time facing hitters since May 26, 2013, and called it “the biggest hurdles I think I can possibly clear.” He’ll throw in another sim game in Arizona in two days, then hope to go out on a rehab assignment after that.

“I couldn’t throw the ball much better than I did today,” Burnett said. “Now it’s just arm strength, building up to 25, 30 pitches.”

Here are the lineups for the series finale, with the tarp currently on the field …

Mariners (2-0)

Abraham Almonte, CF
Brad Miller, SS
Robinson Cano, 2B
Justin Smoak, 1B
Corey Hart, DH
Stefen Romero, RF
Dustin Ackley, LF
Mike Zunino, C
Willie Bloomquist, 3B

SP: LH James Paxton (0-0, -.– ERA)

Angels (0-2)

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
David Freese, 3B
Josh Hamilton, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Chris Iannetta, C
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: LH Hector Santiago (0-0, -.– ERA)

Alden

Vladimir Guerrero retiring with the Angels …

vladVladimir Guerrero isn’t just throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Opening Day today.

He’s signing a one-day contract, so that he can officially retire with the Angels.

Guerrero is one of two players in Angels history to win an MVP, along with Don Baylor, who will catch the first pitch. Guerrero signed a five-year, $70 million contract with the Angels in January 2004,won the American League MVP in his first year and spent six of his 16 seasons with the Angels, batting .319/.381/.546 with 173 home runs and 616 RBIs.

If Guerrero enters the Hall of Fame — he’s got a good chance, with a career .318/.379/.553 slash line, 449 homers, 181 stolen bases and one of the greatest arms in history — he could be the first to enter as an Angel. But he could also go in as a Montreal Expo (.323/.390/.580 with 234 homers in his first eight seasons).

Guerrero batted .300 with 29 homers and 115 RBIs with the Rangers in 2010, then .290 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs with the Orioles in 2011, which ended up being his last season.

Here are the Opening Day lineups …

Mariners (0-0)

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

SP: RH Felix Hernandez (0-0, -.– ERA)

Angels (0-0)

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Josh Hamilton, LF
David Freese, 3B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Chris Iannetta, C
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: RH Jered Weaver (0-0, -.– ERA)

Some pregame notes …

  • Mike Scioscia is happy to report that he’s lost 40 1/2 pounds since Nov. 1, “and I’ve got 25 more to go.”
  • In case you missed it, the A’s signed Joe Blanton to a Minor League contract. In semi-related news, the Mets signed Bobby Abreu to a Minor League deal.
  • Dane De La Rosa (right forearm strain) threw an inning in a Minor League game on Thursday and Saturday and is slated to pitch in a sim game at Angel Stadium on Tuesday, just before venturing out on a rehab assignment. He looks lined up to be activated by the time the Angels return from a six-game trip, for the April 11 home game against the Mets.
  • Sean Burnett (recovery from August elbow surgery) expects to pitch in a sim game on Wednesday, then probably head to Arizona to appear in games there. On not being active for Opening Day, Burnett said, “Yeah, it’s frustrating, but we’re going in the right direction.”
  • Brian Moran (left elbow inflammation) is playing catch in Arizona, and Scioscia said he’s “close” to getting off a mound. Moran hasn’t since appearing in a game on March 12.

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

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 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

Angels roll out their everyday lineup …

Josh HamiltonFor the first time all spring, the Angels will have their everyday lineup on the field when they travel to Glendale, Ariz., to play the White Sox on Wednesday …

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Josh Hamilton, LF
David Freese, 3B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Chris Iannetta, C
Erick Aybar, SS

Last year — with Mark Trumbo, but also with a slumping Hamilton and barely with Pujols — the Angels ranked seventh in the Majors in runs and fifth in OPS.

This year?

“I think we can be better than that,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I think offensively, we’re going to be able to do, hopefully, at least as much as last year and rebound off of that. The production wasn’t quite what we think it could be, but there were some things we talked about that that impacted. But as far as our production, we can get it going.”

Scioscia mainly wants to see an improvement in situational hitting, which they’ve focused on more than ever in Spring Training. The Angels ranked 11th in the Majors in OPS with runners in scoring position.

Some other notes from Wednesday morning …

  • Sean Burnett threw his fourth bullpen session on Wednesday morning, a 37-pitch set that saw him integrate changeups. He felt great, as has been the case in every step he’s taken thus far. His changeup felt “better than it has in a long time.” Burnett pretty much lost that pitch when he had Tommy John surgery for the first time in 2005, but maybe he’s getting it back. He still has to integrate bullpen sessions into another bullpen sessions, then face hitters, and then get into games, so he’s likely to start the season on the disabled list. But he’s progressing well. “I have a smile on my face and the coaches have smiles on their faces,” Burnett said, “so I must be doing something right.”
  • Garrett Richards got some work in during the Angels’ off day on Tuesday, pitching six full innings and giving up one run against the Cubs’ Triple-A team. Richards felt good the next day, and was really happy with his fastball command.
  • Wednesday will mark Hamilton’s first game in the outfield (he went 1-for-3 as the designated hitter in his debut on Monday). “He’s a terrific outfielder, so there’s nothing really that we’re going to evaluate,” Scioscia said. “It’s just how he’s moving, with what ease, how he rebounds. He felt good yesterday, which was a good sign, even though we didn’t play.”

Alden

Burnett feels ‘phenomenal’ after bullpen …

Sean Burnett doesn’t know what the difference was between his first “official” bullpen session on Thursday and that supposedly fake one from Sunday.

All he knows is that it felt good, again.

Burnett threw 30 fastballs off the rubber on Thursday morning, just like he had four days earlier, at an estimated 80- to 90-percent intensity. He still has to work in off-speed pitches — which he’s been throwing off flat ground — and estimates he’ll need roughly three of these before he can progress to a live BP session and then ultimately get in games. Burnett expects to throw another one on Sunday, giving him two days of rest in between.

Burnett said it felt “phenomenal.”

I still think he’ll start the season on the disabled list, simply because there’s no need to rush him and you can backdate it. But he’s clearing major hurdles seven months removed from August forearm surgery. Simply throwing off a downhill plane is not something his arm was able to stand up to last season.

“The biggest step probably isn’t physically; it’s more emotionally and mentally,” Burnett said. “Last year I felt so good, and then every time I would get off the mound it would go downhill after a couple of pitches. So it’s a big mental step for me, more than physically. Obviously for the training staff it’s physical, but for the player it’s mental. Today was a big hurdle. I didn’t fatigue, like I did [on Sunday]. Hopefully it progresses, just like my throwing program.”

Some other notes prior to the Angels’ home game against the White Sox (lineup here) …

  • Joe Blanton made significant progress against the Rangers, throwing five innings of one-hit ball, walking none and striking out five. The big reason for the improvement, five days after giving up seven runs — and four homers — in 3 1/3 innings against the Rockies, was the decision to pitch from the third-base side of the rubber, rather than the first-base side. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said that from the third-base side “he gets a chance to create angles both to lefties and righties, especially with his fastball to be able to get it cross-corner or down or in to a lefty. Also with his breaking ball, whether it’s getting it under a lefty’s swing or having more angle to a righty. They had some good hitters out there, and he looked good.”
  • Josh Hamilton (strained left calf) is expected to run cuts and take some live batting practice after regular BP today to see some velocity. The Angels, Scioscia said, “are targeting early next week.”
  • Dane De La Rosa (right forearm strain) will be evaluated by the Angels’ medical staff today to see when he can pick up a baseball. “He’s feeling much better,” Scioscia said.
  • Scioscia said it isn’t necessary for the backup outfielder to play all three outfield spots, because each of the three starting outfielders — Hamilton, Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun — is capable of playing center field. That points favorably to J.B. Shuck, who’s really only a left fielder.

Alden

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