Angels pitcher Dane De La Rosa kisses his wife Katie before making his 2013 debut against the Oakland A’s on Wednesday. (Associated Press)
This afternoon, Mike Scioscia bristled at the notion that he and reliever Sean Burnett were not on the same page about the non-blister on Burnett’s pitching hand Tuesday. After the game, an 11-5 loss to the Oakland A’s, the Angels did something that teams do when they need to get on the same page. They held a team meeting.
From the outside, it’s easy to misconstrue team meetings as a red flag or a panic button. To the players inside a clubhouse, they’re typically constructive. So it was no surprise that Albert Pujols left Wednesday in what seemed to be an upbeat mood.
“We’re having a good time,” Pujols said. “We’re having fun. We’re talking about eight games.”
The Angels are 2-6 for the second time in the last four seasons. That’s only four games under .500, which is an easy hole to climb out of in a 162-game season — even if the American League West standings look like this:
“Everything always looks worse at the start of the year,” pitcher Joe Blanton said, and right now he couldn’t be more correct.
So why hold a team meeting after eight games?
The Angels’ game against the Arizona Diamondbacks was called due to inclement weather in the third inning with the game tied 1-1. An on-again, off-again rainfall gave way to heavy wind and hail around 2:40 p.m. local time, forcing everyone off the field at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
What few statistics were compiled in the game won’t count at the end of spring training.
There was a purpose to the game, even if it was mostly lost upon fans — and there were plenty of fans Friday despite pregnant pregame clouds and forecasts of rain. First pitch was delayed about 25 minutes. During the delay, Mike Scioscia and Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson met on the field to figure out what the other wanted to accomplish.
“They needed some guys to throw,” Scioscia said. “(Brad) Ziegler needed to pitch. It’s usually you need your guys to stay up on innings. That’s what we needed. Joe (Blanton) got his work in and finished up a little bit in the ‘pen. He wanted to throw some pitches out of the stretch.
“Believe me, we milked about every pitch we could out of today. We got something accomplished.”
The Angels’ five-man rotation is all but set. Two familiar faces, Garrett Richards and Jerome Williams (whom I included with the relievers), are vying for “sixth starter” status. Of course, just because a rotation is set doesn’t mean it’s good, and many see this group as the Angels’ Achilles heel beyond ace Jered Weaver.
The other four starters — Tommy Hanson, Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas and C.J. Wilson – were flat-out bad for stretches last season. Will Wilson snap back to his old self following elbow surgery? Can Hansen, Blanton and Vargas benefit from a change of scenery and a star-studded defense?
Those are the biggest questions facing the rotation, and maybe the team, going into camp. Unless there’s an injury, don’t expect the Angels’ five-man rotation to change in spring training.
(Non-roster invitees listed in parentheses)