Spring all over again

The last week has had a spring training feel about it with starting lineup changes and pitchers who have been getting a token inning of work here and there. John Lackey threw just 74 pitches Friday night even though he was dominating against the A’s. Manager Mike Scioscia admitted Saturday that he has been transported back to Tempe, Ariz.

“Yeah it’s almost like the end of spring a little bit where you’re trying to make sure you’re prepared for a bigger challenge,” he said. “I think as important as it is to go out there and play baseball and keep that edge, it’s equally important to make sure there is a little work schedule where you are sure your bullpen will be sharp and fresh. Your regulars, if they need to recharge they can recharge, and if they need at-bats get them at-bats. There is a balancing thing that’s going on.”

The Angels are still awaiting work on whether their ALDS series at Boston will start Wednesday or Thursday. No matter what happens with that, the team’s plan is to fly home from Oakland on Sunday night and have Monday off, although if the ALDS starts Wednesday, they will fly to Boston on Monday afternoon. If it starts Thursday, the plan is to work out at Angel Stadium on Tuesday morning and fly to Boston Tuesday evening.

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No "live" TV on Saturday

Because the Angels and A’s are playing a day game up in Oakland on Saturday and the Fox network is not interested in broadcasting it, the game will be the only one this season not on live television. So the Angels will do the next best thing. They will tape the broadcast and air it at 4 p.m. on Channel 13. The 4 p.m. time slot is the first one that falls out of Fox’s restricted time space (“air space” would have made it sound like Fox controls flight patters or something). Guess a taped broadcast is better than nothing. For those who can’t wait, it always can be heard live on the radio at 710-AM and 830-AM in Spanish.

And since we’re talking about a Saturday radio broadcast, might as well tune in about a half hour before the game and listen to the “Reporters’ Rountable” hosted by Terry Smith. The guests, per usual, will be myself Doug Padilla, Matt Hurst of the Riverside Press Enterprise, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times, Bill Plunkett of the OC Register and Lyle Spencer of mlb.com. It’s the final show of the season so anything goes.

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Projecting the playoff roster

The Angels are expected to have 10 pitchers and 15 position players on their postseason roster, with some spots still in doubt. Here is our projection for what the roster will look like for the first round.

Pitchers: Justin Speier, Jered Weaver, Darren Oliver, John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, Francisco Rodriguez, Dustin Moseley and Scot Shields.

Position players: Jeff Mathis, Maicer Izturis, Chone Figgins, Garret Anderson, Orlando Cabrera, Juan Rivera, Kendry Morales, Gary Matthews Jr., Vladimir Guerrero, Erick Aybar, Casey Kotchman, Robb Quinlan, Mike Napoli, Howie Kendrick and Reggie Willits.

On the pitching side, Bartolo Colon and Chris Bootcheck are left out. Moseley gets the nod over Bootcheck based on his four shutout innings against the Rangers on Tuesday. On the position player side, Nathan Haynes finds himself on the outside looking in. This, of course, is the projected roster. The actual roster is due before the first playoff game. And remember, the roster can be changed again for the ALCS and the World Series.

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A different magic number

Manager Mike Scioscia was asked if he knew his team’s magic number and immediately, he wanted clarification.

“Define magic number,” Scioscia said. “Is that the year the good Lord takes us, or are you talking about winning the division?”

Scioscia, of course, will do anything he can to halt talk about the team’s upcoming clinching party. Ask about the postseason roster and Scioscia will talk about how tonight’s game is his only focus. Ask about the importance of earning the top seed in the AL playoffs and he says that those types of questions will be relevant at a later. At least that answer is an admission that the playoffs are coming.

Here is a perfect example of the length Scioscia will go to avoid postseason questions. Scioscia was asked by yahoo.com’s Tim Brown if looking at the standings is part of his daily routine.

“I haven’t looked at the standings since probably the All-Star break,” Scioscia claimed.

Responded Brown: “Well, I have good news for you.”

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Erstad picks with his heart

It should come as no surprise that former Angels standout, now White Sox player Darin Erstad picked Nebraska over USC in todays top college football matchup. The former Cornhuskers punter remains a huge supporter of Nebraska athletics. His only problem is the game will start an hour after tonight’s Angels-White Sox game meaning he won’t be able to see most of the early action. Asked for his prediction tonight, Erstad actually offered up a result. He said Nebraska will win by three.

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Colon well aware 500 is coming

Yes, Bartolo Colon does look in his rear-view mirror every once in a while, and in it he can see the White Sox’s Jim Thome with 499 home runs on his back. Thome will be going for No. 500 starting Friday and will first face off against Colon, who will start for the Angels.

Colon rarely speaks English unless, apparently, he is telling a joke.

“He will get it off me,” Colon quipped while pointing to his chest. “He was my teammate.”

Indeed Colon and Thome played with each other for a number of years during the height of the Cleveland Indians’ success in the 1990s. Colon nodded his head in the affirmative when asked if Thome was a good teammate.

Thome can become the third player to 500 home runs this season, following Frank Thomas and Alex Rodriguez.

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Santana out, Colon in

Manager Mike Scioscia announced today that Bartolo Colon will start Friday against the Chicago White Sox and that Ervin Santana will be dropped into the bullpen. If Santana were to make the playoff roster, it would be as a reliever anyway, so the Angels want to see if he can be an effective in that role. In essence, this looks like a three-week tryout to see if Santana can work his way onto the playoff roster. It already seems likely that Colon will not be a part of the postseason unless, of course, he is completely dominating in the three starts he would get before the end of the season.

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Figgins back in lineup

Chone Figgins will lead off and play third base, giving him his first start since Aug. 21. Figgins has been out with a bone bruise in his left wrist that he suffered while swinging right-handed. Figgins still hasn’t taken any cuts from the right side and will likely bat exclusively form the left side down the stretch. Figgins did appear in Thursday’s game as a pinch runner and late-inning defensive replacement. He did not get an at-bat. Vladimir Guerrero is still out with an inflammed right triceps. Here is today’s lineup vs. the Indians:

Figgins 3B
Cabrera SS
Anderson LF
Morales DH
Kotchman 3B
Izturis 2B
Matthews CF
Mathis C
Willits RF

Lackey P

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Garret even further from record

Upon further review, it seems that Garret Anderson is not two games away from tying the American League record for consecutive games with an RBI. After he drove in a run Thursday to give him an RBI in 11 consecutive games to set the Angels record, the team’s p.r. staff made an announcement that 13 is the AL record. They showed a record book that said the Royals’ Mike Sweeney and the White Sox’s Taffy Wright shared that mark.

On Friday came news that the Philadelphia A’s Tris Speaker actually has the AL record of 14 games. Here is the notification from The Elias Sports Bureau:

The Elias Sports Bureau reported that research done earlier this year reveals that the American League record for consecutive games with an RBI is 14 consecutive games set (by) Tris Speaker of the Philadelphia A’s, May 16-30 (1st game of DH), 1928 … The mark of 13, as announced last night, is not the AL record.

Here is the list of anybody who has had an RBI in at least 12 consecutive games as provided by SABR records committee:

Most Consecutive Games with an RBI
G BATTER TEAM YEAR
17 Ray Grimes CHI NL 1922
15 Mike Piazza NY NL 2000
14 George Van Haltren NY NL 1895
14 Tris Speaker PHI AL 1928
13 Nap Lajoie PHI NL 1899
13 Taft Wright CHI AL 1941
13 Mike Sweeney KC AL 1999
12 Tip O’Neill STL AA 1887
12 Tuck Turner PHI NL 1894
12 Sam Thompson PHI NL 1895
12 Ed McKean CLE NL 1896
12 Charlie Hickman NY NL 1900
12 Paul Waner PIT NL 1927
12 Mickey Cochrane DET AL 1934
12 Ripper Collins STL NL 1935
12 Joe Cronin BOS AL 1939
12 Rudy York DET AL 1940
12 Ted Williams BOS AL 1942

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Vlad a late scratch

Vladimir Guerrero was removed from Thursday’s lineup when he experienced an arm injury during batting practice. Guerrero, who had been bothered by a sore triceps muscle in recent days according to manager Mike Scioscia, aggravated that injury while swinging a bat. The injury is not expected to be serious and Guerrero should be back in the lineup at some point during this weekend’s series against the Cleveland Indians. Precautionary X-rays were negative. The late scratch caused a number of lineup changes. Here is the new lineup without Vlad.

Matthews CF
Cabrera SS
Anderson LF
Morales DH
Izturis 3B
Kotchman 1B
Kendrick 2B
Mathis C
Willits RF

Here was the lineup before Guerrero came out:

Matthews CF
Cabrera SS
Guerrero RF
Anderson LF
Izturis SS
Morales DH
Kotchman 3B
Kendrick 2B
Mathis C

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