Vlad has star power

The first round of American League All-Star balloting was released and Vladimir Guerrero leads all outfielders with 578,430 votes, nearly 130,000 more than the Red Sox’s Manny Ramirez. No other Angels player is in the top five of any other position.
Based on their present pace, at least three Angels pitchers John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and Francisco Rodriguez have a chance to be named to the squad after the voting is complete.
The All-Star Game is July 10 at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

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Moseley in waiting game

Dustin Moseley could be asked to start over the weekend, he could be asked to stay in his current role of late-inning relief help, or he could wind up as guy without a role. Such is life for a young pitcher that can do it all. Sometimes you get shuffled right out of a spot.

With Bartolo Colon stepping aside for his next start on Saturday, Moseley is a candidate to replace him. Those odds are long though because Moseley has proven to be a valuabe piece of the bullpen just in front of setup man Scot Shields and closer Francisco Rodriguez. But Justin Speier is a week or so away from returning from an intestinal virus and is expected to resume his seventh-inning role soon after. So what happens to Moseley then?

“We’ll maybe try to get Justin some innings to get his feet back on the ground (when he returns),” manager Mike Scioscia said. “Once Justin’s full boar and pitching at the back end of games, Dustin’s shown he can add depth to that role. It doesn’t mean he will totally be knocked out of it but it’ll give you another arm that is effective in that role and makes that pyramid wider, which makes it better leading up to Frankie.”

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Bloodied Napoli gets Stanley Cup fever

Mike Napoli looked more like a goaltender than a catcher before Sunday’s game as an incident in the batting cage left him with a bandage over the bridge of his nose. Napoli and Reggie Willits were in the batting cage Sunday morning when Willits pretended to flip his bat in Napoli’s direction. He lost grip of the bat and the hollowed out end caught Naopli flush on the bridge of his nose, opening a deep cut. Everybody was laughing about the incident later, but Willits admitted that at the time he was scared because he thought he had injured Napoli seriously. Napoli still played, as expected.

Napoli called his new look a tribute to the upcoming Stanley Cup finals between the Ducks and the Ottawa Senators. He pointed to the bandage, his scruffy facial hair and the fact that he wears a mask to his day job as proof that he is getting excited for hockey’s championship series. If only a black eye developed and a tooth fell out, then he would really have something. But there’s no reason to stereotype.

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Willits earning a nickname

Teammates Robb Quinlan and Mike Napoli were on Reggie Willits before Wednesday’s game, telling the rookie to switch his number to match his new nickname that has started to catch on. Those players, anyway, were referring to Willits as “32,” a reference to his knack at the plate of consistently taking counts full to 3-2. Erick Aybar currently owns the number so it would take some compensation to convince Aybar to make the change.

Willits said it isn’t likely to happen. Willits currently wears No. 77 as a tribute to his favorite player while growing up. Willits admired then Cleveland Indians outfielder Kenny Lofton, who still wears No. 7 with the Texas Rangers. The reason Willits has two 7s is because when he came up last year most of the numbers with 7 in them were taken. Mickey Hatcher has No. 7, Darin Erstad had No. 17, Vladimir Guerrero wears No. 27, Greg Jones was No. 37, Howie Kendrick has No. 47 and Francisco Rodriguez has No. 57. Willits was left with Nos. 67 and 77 so he went with the double 7s.

Napoli suggested Willits would be able to buy No. 7 off of Hatcher, but Willits didn’t seem comfortable going that route. Perhaps he will make on offer once he has more time in the big leageus.

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Murphy, Willits separated at birth

Tommy Murphy and Reggie Willits say they have mistaken for each other a number of times during their time in the Angels organization, but the latest case of mistaken identity was a classic. Murphy said he was walking off the field after batting practice this past weekend when he was grabbed by a television type and told he would be needed for an interview immediately.

Murphy said he asked if they had the right guy and was told that yes, he was the player they needed. The interview proceeded and Murphy said he answered some very general questions about his play of late. After the interview, Murphy asked Willits if he was supposed to be doing a television interview any time soon. Willits said that in fact he was heading out at that moment to do a TV spot. “Don’t bother,” Murphy said. “I did it for you.”

Somebody from the Angels’ public relations department eventually informed the TV crew that it had talked to the wrong guy. The interview never aired, which is probably good for the interviewer, but it would have made for some awfully entertaining viewing.

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Kendrick proves he's ready

Howie Kendrick should be back in an Angels uniform at some point during the Angels series here in Detroit and it is likely he could be in uniform today. Kendrick has done everything he can to show he has healed from a broken left hand. His latest evidence came Monday night with a three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to rally Triple-A Salt Lake to a 5-3 victory over Sacramento. Kendrick added a sacrifice fly and a walk in his four plate appearances Monday. Word on any roster change should come shortly.

UPDATE: Kendrick played at Salt Lake on Tuesday, but could be set to rejoin the Angels on Wednesday.

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Changes helping Napoli

The quieter Mike Napoli gets at the plate, the more he starts to make noise.
A new approach has Napoli looking more comfortable at last, and the results are slowly starting to come. Hitting coach Mickey Hatcher instituted the changes last week on the last homestand.
While the changes seem subtle, to Napoli it represented a drastic overhaul. Instead of cocking his hands as a timing device to start his swing, he now holds his hands still and back toward his right shoulder.
For a new timing device, Napoli stands in the batter’s box with his left heel off the ground. When the pitcher begins his delivery, Napoli then adjusts his feet.
I had so much movement with my hands and I always had them cocked a certain way, Napoli said. It was so easy for me to do something wrong that way. Now I’m just simplifying it. With my hands, I’m doing little movement and then I get my foot down. I’m seeing the ball and hitting the ball.
Napoli is on a season-high seven-game hit streak after a ninth-inning double.

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Angels getting crisp and clear

Fox Sports Net West will provide its first of 50 broadcasts in high definition Wednesday when the Angels play at Seattle. Thursday’s game also will be available in high definition.

Six cable providers will carry the game in high definition: Bright House, Champion Broadband, Charter, Cox, Time Warner and Wave Broadband. Two satellite providers also will care the game in HD: DirecTV and Echo Star. Fiber provider Verizon FiOS also will carry it.

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Scioscia not big on World Series changes

The news that Major League Baseball will start the World Series on a Wednesday this season and has scheduled Game 7 for Nov. 1, didn’t exactly make manager Mike Scioscia stand up and cheer. Scioscia said MLB needs to look at somehow condensing the schedule instead of risking the chance that the game’s championship series is played in some brutally cold Midwest or East Coast city so close to winter.

“We keep pushing that envelope,” Scioscia said. “I hope we can come up with something satisfactory even if it means cutting out six to eight games during the season, or stacking some (day-night) doubleheaders so the gates are still there and the season can be done in a timely manner. Then when you get to the playoffs, you can have the high quality of play you’re looking for.”

With the World Series now starting four days later than usual, it might also mean the first round is set to be expanded from five games to seven. As of now, no announcement on that change has been made.

“Three rounds of seven games, that’s an incredible grind,” Scioscia said. “It will really take a deep club. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot by just adding two games but there’s just the time element. That would be a big step.”

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Scioscia has discussion with MLB

Manager Mike Scioscia said he talked to general manager Bill Stoneman and baseball’s vice president of discipline Bob Watson after Sunday’s game to talk about Hector Carrasco’s ejection.
Carrasco was thrown out after grazing Ian Kinsler’s batting helmet on a 78 mph breaking ball. It came immediately after Gary Matthews Jr. was hit on the rear end in his first at-bat after hitting his second home run of Sunday’s game.
I fully support Major League Baseball with what theyre doing as far as trying to curtail beanballs and bench-clearing brawls, Scioscia said. But I think the calls that are made on the field, there needs to be common sense infused with them. When a guy gets hit with an off speed pitch, I dont care where it hits him. I dont think theres any way you find intent with it.
Scioscia admits nothing can be done about Sunday’s game that ended in a 7-6 Angels defeat, but hopes that by having an open-line of communication with the league, it will established better guidelines for dealing with similar situations in the future.

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