Home plate umpire told to zip it

Poor Kerwin Danley. The home-plate umpire in tonight’s Angels-Mariners game had his fly down for the first four innings and didn’t even know it. An acquaintance of one of the Angels beat writers called to say the unlatched zipper was visible on television, especially with a left-handed batter at the plate. The message was relayed to the Mariners media relations department, who called down to the umpires’ room.

It still took another half inning for the attendant in the umpires’ room to inform Danley. The kid did it between innings very discretely, by putting his arm around Danley and giving him the news. The embarrassed umpire had a huge grin as he fished up the zipper. Call it one game where Danley didn’t feel like following the infield fly rule.

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Kotchman shrugs at rumors

Trade rumors can be hard on a young player, but Casey Kotchman is doing his best to ignore it. He wants to stay with the Angels, of course, but has no control over what the team decides. Rumors in recent days have Kotchman leaving the Angels for a proven slugger. The following is a conversation with Kotchman on the topic:

Q: Are trade rumors hard to take?
A: I’ve definitely heard it, some talking and have read a little bit. But when you’re at the field you have a job to do as a professional and you don’t want to be thinking or consuming yourself with things that are out of your control because it hinders your concentration levels on what you can control.

Q: Is it hard to not think about?
A: You get to the field and you have your agenda of things you want to work on and things that you want to do and when you get out on the playing field you just play baseball.

Q: Is it flattering to hear a team wants you or disheartening the Angels are willing to move you?
I enjoyed the winning and being in first place and the teammates. I haven’t given it a whole lot of thought other than you’re trying to help this team win and contribute toward a winning team.

Q: Is this the classic moment of things being out of your control?
A: I’m not making the decisions on it. If I was, obviously I’d want to be here and help these guys who have been teammates for the last couple of years.

Q: Would it be hard to leave the Angels?
A: I guess. I haven’t really thought about it Maybe your first inclination is leaving the guys you know and play with. Those aren’t my decisions so I don’t have a choice.

Q: Does it make you realize how much of a business this is?
A: Yeah. It is what it is. You just show up to play where they tell you to play and when they tell you to play.

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Angels to recall another catcher

The Angels’ six-run first inning Friday didn’t come without a high price. Mike Napoli came away with a strained right hamstring on a successful steal of second base and had to leave the game. He will be re-examined Saturday but could be headed to the disabled list. Immediately after Friday’s game, Napoli was experiencing less pain than expected.
If Napoli is lost for a significant amount of time it will be especially troubling considering that just one week ago, the Angels traded veteran catcher Jose Molina to the Yankees. Jeff Mathis, who has a total of 38 games of major-league experience counting Friday’s action, likely will be counted on to absorb the bulk of the catching duties.
Even if Napoli doesn’t go on the disabled list, the Angels will recall a catcher to have emergency depth at the position.

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TV takes a licking

I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it for myself and feel the echo rattle around my own skull. A foul ball just entered the press box at high speed and slammed into the back of a television hanging above me. The TV didn’t even blink and in fact, it looks like the picture got even sharper. It was just like somebody slamming their old set to make it work better. Most people are buying flat screens these days, but if somebody is in the market for an old picture-tube set, try a Mitsubishi. At least your kid can’t bust it with a baseball.

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Konerko merely a fantasy

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen did his best to stop Paul Konerko trade rumors before they gained momentum. A report this week said the Angels had inquired about Konerko’s availability in a trade. The White Sox always listen to trade offers for any of their players (general manager Ken Williams says he can always be convinced to move a player) but that doesn’t mean they trade them.

So if the White Sox are willing to listen, what would they want to hear? Williams loves pitching so it’s reasonable to guess that Jered Weaver would be at the top of his wish list in a Konerko deal. Better figure that Nick Adenhart (7-3, 3.36 at Double-A Arkansas) is also desired. And Guillen is a huge fan of setup man Scot Shields. Better include him in a Konerko package. Finally, the White Sox would need a first baseman so say goodbye to Casey Kotchman. And that still might not be enough for the White Sox.

Suddenly, even a guy with consistent power numbers, like Konerko has, doesn’t seem that desirable. Hey, Guillen said the White Sox will be asking for a lot of people and the Angels will say no.

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Pitcher's wife stranded

New Angels reliever Marc Gwyn had no family members to celebrate with Tuesday as his wife was stranded in Salt Lake while he was called up to the major leagues for the first time. Gwyn was told Monday night that he would be headed to Anaheim. His wife, Katherine, was scheduled to fly to Salt Lake on Tuesday so she made her trip as planned. But instead of going to Salt Lake to meet her, Gwyn ended up going directly from Sacramento, where the team played over the weekend, to Anaheim to join the Angels. They looked into plane tickets from Salt Lake to Anaheim but everything was expensive for a last-minute flight. Perhaps the couple will get to celebrate Gwyn’s promotion at some point this week. But as of now, the pitcher still doesn’t know how his wife is going to get to town.

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Angels trade Molina to Yankees

The Angels cleared a catcher off their roster after Saturday’s game but it was not the one that was expected.
Instead of sending Jeff Mathis back to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room for pitcher Joe Saunders, the Angels traded veteran Jose Molina to the New York Yankees for Double-A reliever Jeff Kennard.
The move leaves one of the best pitching staffs in baseball to be guided by a 25-year old in Mike Napoli and a 24-year old in Mathis.
The Angels are now without a Molina for the first time since Bengie Molina caught two games in the 1998 season.
Jose Molina batted .224 with the Angels this season after going 0-for-2 on Saturday against the Minnesota Twins. He lined out to third base in the fifth inning during his last at-bat as an Angel and was replaced by pinch hitter Kendry Morales in the eighth inning.

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Wanted: O.C. bands that are Angels fans

Kudos to the dude who plays the music at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Rarely does an inning go by when a Minneapolis band isn’t playing on the loudspeaker (not during play, of course). From the Replacements to Bob Mould to more obscure offerings like Tapes ‘n Tapes. But the dude gets the most credit for not only playing the Twin Cities’ own The Hold Steady, somebody got the best “bar band” on the planet to record its own version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and give it a Twins flavor.

So this got us thinking. Maybe an Orange County band might want to offer the Angels a baseball-themed tune to play to the masses that show up every night. How about a little hometown spirit? So let’s hear it. What Orange County band should the Angels call for a custom baseball-themed tune?

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Angels produce another elite closer

Kevin Gregg is doing just fine with the Florida Marlins as another Angels pitcher has turned into an outstanding closer with another team. Put Gregg in the group that includes Bobby Jenks (White Sox) and Derrick Turnbow (Brewers), although Turnbow has now lost his closer job after doing well the past two seasons. Former Angel Troy Percival has nice things to say about Gregg in this notebook from the Florida Sun-Sentinel.

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Willits dropped to ninth

The Angels made an inevitable move Friday, dropping rookie Reggie Willits to the No. 9 spot in the lineup. Willits had been batting leadoff for most of the season and had been a rookie of the year candidate with his performance in the first half. Willits had batted leadoff in 42 of the last 45 games he started. But entering Friday’s game, Willits was in an 8-for-46 slide. He still was ranked second among AL rookies with a .307 batting average, third in hits (78) and first in on-base percentage (.405).

Other lineup changes included the struggling Orlando Cabrera (no hits in his last 17 at-bats) moving from the No. 3 spot to the No. 2 spot where he started the season. Vladimir Guerrero moved up to No. 3 while Garret Anderson returned to the cleanup spot.

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