Today the manager revealed his starters for Saturday’s split-squad games. Jerome Williams will start at Tempe Diablo Stadium against the Chicago Cubs, while Brad Mills will start against the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale.
The final rosters for the World Baseball Classic were announced Thursday, and only one Angel was listed: Erick Aybar.
That comes as no surprise, as Aybar was listed on the preliminary roster for the Dominican Republic last month. The Angels were counting on losing him, and no one else, when WBC games and practices begin in March. The Dominican team has pool-play games March 7, 9 and 10 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Their complete schedule and roster is here.
In the meantime, Aybar will be one of the Angels’ few projected opening-day starters who will see plenty of playing time early in spring training.
“Erick will play, probably not every day,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “Just because he’s going to the WBC, you can’t cram him and play him every day, every game. We’ll play him, then maybe give him a day to recover, play him a couple, try to get him acclimated to velocity, try to find some kind of a rhythm. It’s not ideal for the player or the team but we’ll do what we have to do.”
Is this the torn Omar Vizquel card Bart Simpson traded to Milhouse for a Carl Yastrzemski?
Omar Vizquel, the Angels’ new roving infield instructor, will be the subject of my notebook in tomorrow’s editions. For a sneak preview, here’s what the 11-time Gold Glove winner said when I asked him how he hooked up with the Angels:
I saw (Angels minor-league hitting coordinator) Paul Sorrento at a party in Seattle. Edgar Martinez was putting together a poker game. I saw him there, started talking to him a little bit about what he’s doing. He told me he’s working for the Angels. They were talking about looking for an infielder guy. I said, ‘Well, I must be the guy.’ So I got in touch with (assistant Angels GM) Scott Servais. Scott gave (general manager) Jerry DiPoto a call. I also played with Jerry in Cleveland. He knows me from those years. The communication was really quick. We put it together and I was here two days later.
Mike Scioscia didn’t single out those starters by name, but the Angels’ manager did rule out his projected five starters from pitching in games for at least another week. The Angels open Cactus League play with split-squad games Saturday against the Cubs and Giants.
“The guys that we’re looking at, especially Weave [Jered Weaver], he doesn’t need to get started until somewhere around the first” of March, Scioscia said. “It would just be too long for him. He wouldn’t need it.”
Away from the baseball field, 21-year-old Mike Trout seems like a simple guy. He goes home in the off-season to working class Millville, New Jersey. He golfs. He hunts. He hangs out with his family and friends. Then he shows up to spring training.
It’s incredibly ordinary stuff for an extraordinary talent, and an integral part of the emerging Mike Trout legend.
One thing the reigning American League Rookie of the Year hasn’t talked much about in his brief time as a superstar: When he hunts, it’s often with a crossbow. Forget your fantasy baseball draft — you want Trout representing your district in The Hunger Games.
Angels prospect Kaleb Cowart knows that a good way to arouse the suspicion of the Transportation Safety Administration is to put a bullet somewhere in your luggage at the airport. But accidents happen, as he tweeted nine days ago:
Well my day started off great! TSA found a pistol bullet in my bag while going through security! #huntingproblems
After a light overnight snowfall, the forecast calls for a high temperature of 24 degrees Fahrenheit tomorrow in Buffalo, New York, and a low of 17. This information isn’t relevant to the Angels, though it will be posted on an 8.5-by-11-inch paper on the clubhouse wall tomorrow morning.
It’s a practical joke, one that rookie pitcher Steve Geltz must oblige every day. Geltz is from Buffalo. Manager Mike Scioscia discovered this while assigning hazing rituals earlier this week.
“He asked me where I was from,” Geltz recalled. “He said, ‘what’s it like there?’ I said cold.”
And so the idea of Geltz researching the daily forecast for Buffalo was born.
Ryan Madson was seen throwing off flat ground today in Tempe, but manager Mike Scioscia told reporters that the Angels’ presumptive closer still has no timetable to get back on a mound.
That’s essentially the status quo. Madson was dealing with soreness and inflammation in his right elbow last week. An MRI came back negative but his throwing program was put on hold. Opening day looked like a longshot for Madson then and still does now.
The 32-year-old missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery.
At least the Angels don’t have to rebuild their bullpen from scratch. They can just go back to what (sometimes) worked for them last year — Ernesto Frieri in the ninth, Kevin Jepsen in the eighth, Scott Downs in the seventh — plus free-agent newcomer Sean Burnett.
Oh, about Burnett: He left camp today with stiffness in his lower back to undergo an MRI.
Stay tuned. The Angels’ bullpen is officially on watch.
Things are heating up in Arizona, literally and figuratively. These links are tepid at best:
Regardless, the starting three in Anaheim are rather enviable. The glaring issues: New center fielder Peter Bourjos batted just .220 in a platoon situation last year, fourth outfielder Vernon Wells has hit .222 since coming to Anaheim, and there isn’t much depth after that. The NRIs in this group don’t pose a serious threat to make the opening-day roster, but one or more could move up with an outstanding spring. Otherwise it’s a long dropoff from the starters to the bench.