Daily Distractions: Remembering Dr. Lewis Yocum.

Lewis YocumDr. Lewis Yocum, the Angels team physician who died Saturday, worked at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic for more than 30 years. Yocum didn’t invent Tommy John surgery – Frank Jobe did – but he made it faster.

“Some of the little refinements that we do, he helped develop them,” Jobe said. “For example, he’d drill the holes. At he time it took a while to get the holes just right took to get the lead sutures through those holes, he was able to find a way of doing that real slick, so that cut about 15 minutes off the operation time.”

And yet, when I asked Jobe to identify Yocum’s legacy, he went with something completely different. Click the link above to see what he said.

I talked to a lot of people about Dr. Yocum yesterday and the vast majority of what they said didn’t fit in my story for the newspaper. So here’s the rest, in bullet-point form for a Wednesday afternoon:
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Daily Distractions: A tale of two cities; quarter-by-quarter records; is Mike Scioscia tradeable?

Angel Stadium

Angel Stadium has seen declining attendance in May. (photo by J.P. Hoornstra)

Both the Angels and Dodgers are off to poor starts this season, but the Dodgers have something important that the Angels do not: The best attendance of any team in Major League Baseball.

In case you missed it, the Dodgers are 17-22 and feature a list of injured stars including Hanley Ramirez and Zack Greinke (prior to Wednesday). Most tickets aren’t getting cheaper and it’s no easier to get in and out of Dodger Stadium than it was two years ago, when the Dodgers averaged 36,236 at every home game.

Yet the Dodgers’ average attendance of 42,706 through 24 home games is the best in the business. They became the first team to surpass 1,000,000 tickets sold on Wednesday. Their season-ticket base of approximately 31,000 is a major boost. So is Clayton Kershaw, whose six home starts attracted an average of 47,905 fans. The Dodgers’ average attendance in their other 18 home dates: 40,974.

We mention this only because fan loyalty in Southern California can’t be taken for granted.

The Angels’ average attendance of 37,232 represents 82 percent of capacity at the smaller Angel Stadium (the Dodgers are at 76.3 percent capacity), but these numbers are shrinking. A season-low 31,917 fans attended Wednesday’s loss to Kansas City. The Angels are averaging about 4,000 fewer fans per game in May than April (34,656 compared to 38,735).

Having been to most home games at both stadiums, I feel confident in writing that fans in Anaheim are leaving games early this season at a Chavez Ravine-like rate — with less traffic to beat. I also feel confident in writing that Angels players and coaches notice this.

The lesson for the Dodgers: Southern Californians will only tolerate losing to a point.

The lesson for the Angels: Trade for Clayton Kershaw.

Some bullet points for a Thursday morning:
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Scioscia reacts to owner publicly stating Angels manager’s job is safe

It was difficult to tell if Mike Scioscia was being polite or revealing when responding to owner Arte Moreno public assurance Wednesday of the Angels manager’s job security. Outside the owners’ meetings in New York, Moreno told FOXSports.com the chances of an in-season managerial change are “right now, zero.”

Asked if he needed that support, Scioscia was measured with his response but not his typical definitive self.

“I don’t know if it changes anything that I would do or anything I need to do on a daily basis,” Scioscia said before stopping himself in mid-sentence. “Obviously it’s… You know, like I said, Arte’s been very, very supportive from day one and continues to be. And it helps give us the best opportunity to get this thing going in the right direction.”

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Daily Distractions: Going to WAR over the Angels’ pitching woes.

<strong>Jered  Weaver</strong>Like you really needed WAR to tell you the Angels’ pitching is awful after Mike Scioscia did so Sunday?

Here it is anyway: FanGraphs recently calculated the WAR (wins above replacement) for every team by position. (For an explanation of the frequently misunderstood statistic, which is calculated differently by FanGraphs.com and Baseball-Reference.com and has gained popularity in recent years, click here.) According to FanGraphs’ WAR, the Angels have the 22nd-best pitching staff in the major leagues.

Broken down further, their starters rank 20th and the relievers 23rd.

The chart has its limits. Add up the Angels’ position-by-position WAR, and they should have the fourth-best team in baseball. In reality the Angels are 10 games under .500. The Baltimore Orioles are tied for first place in the American League East, yet their combined WAR ranks 21st in the majors.

This is why you play the games, why the experts say that you can’t win without pitching.

More bullet points for a Thursday morning:
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Postgame thoughts: A’s 9, Angels 5

Sean Burnett was not dealing with a blister, in his mind or on the middle finger of his left hand.

Mike Scioscia seemed to disagree when he left right-hander Kevin Jepsen in to face A’s lefties John Jaso and Brandon Moss in the seventh inning with the southpaw Burnett available out of the bullpen. “Jeppy was the guy to get out of that inning,” Scioscia said, before mentioning Burnett’s blister.

Burnett said that there was no blister. Ever.

“It was more my nail came out of the bed” three days ago in Texas, he said. “It was a one-day thing. It happens all the time with my breaking ball … I was 100 percent.”

Burnett pitched Tuesday. He seemed healthy. He faced four batters in a scoreless eighth inning. Scioscia simply chose to save Burnett for the start of the eighth inning rather than the two-on, two-out situation in the seventh, citing the blister. It proved to be the wrong call.

Whether you attribute the Angels’ 9-5 loss to the Oakland A’s on Tuesday to Scioscia leaving in Jepsen too long, or to Jepsen for allowing two homers in the seventh inning, may be a matter of degrees. Six of one, half a dozen of another, there are still issues in the Angels bullpen. Right?

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Daily Distractions: Mike Trout’s celebrity grows, Vladimir Guerrero’s quest continues.

Not long ago, fans voted online to determine who is “The Face of Major League Baseball.” The winner, of course, was Ezequiel Astacio Joey Votto.

Wait, you didn’t remember who won the most important bracket of March?

Votto’s victory vindicated his small-market heroics but it couldn’t land him in a national television advertising campaign called “I Play.” The five faces MLB chose for the campaign: David Price, Andrew McCutchen, Robinson Cano, Bryce Harper and Angels outfielder Mike Trout, whose video spot is linked above. (Apologies to the entire Midwest are in order.)

It’s another drop in the growing tide of Trout’s national celebrity. This off-season, he was featured on the cover of ESPN The Magazine, GQ and Men’s Health. You have to figure that he’ll get more exposure before he gets less. Ryan Seacrest seems to agree.

It’s also a refreshing affirmation that it’s possible to be a star simply by being really good at what you do. Trout isn’t as flashy as Harper, doesn’t play in as large a market as Cano, and hasn’t had as much time to establish himself as Price or McCutchen. He’s just a really good baseball player — maybe the best in the game — albeit one with a .313 on-base percentage (if you want to hold up his three-game sample size from 2013).

Playing in Los Angeles of Anaheim helps, too.

The Angels are playing the Texas Rangers in Arlington in about 10 minutes. Onto the bullet points:

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Angels manager Mike Scioscia pleads patience with Hank Conger’s arm.

Hank CongerWill Hank Conger‘s wild arm behind the plate Wednesday cripple his chances of making the Angels?

Manager Mike Scioscia didn’t lay down a red carpet to his doghouse for Conger, who nearly decapitated Jered Weaver on a throw to second base Wednesday. Neither did Scioscia lie about where Conger stands right now.

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Just kidding! Albert Pujols likes spring training at-bats after all, goes 0-for-3.

Albert Pujols

Four days ago, Albert Pujols seemed to scoff at the notion that he was a mere mortal who needed spring training to prepare for Opening Day. “I’ve got 8,000 at-bats in the big leagues,” he said Friday at Tempe Diablo Stadium. “I think I’ve got plenty.”

Pujols may have been kidding but he wasn’t smiling.

So it came as a surprise to everyone outside the Angels’ spring headquarters — and perhaps some of the announced crowd of 4,170 for Tuesday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds — when Pujols’ name was penciled into the DH slot. (Those responsible for the empty seats in the half-empty stadium will probably be the most surprised of all.)

“These at-bats are very important,” he said. “This is what gets you ready.”

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Daily Distractions: Mike Trout is debuting for the Angels, plus links.

Big news today: Garrett Richards is making his long-awaited spring debut.

So is some kid named Trout.

The reigning American League rookie of the year and new Angels left fielder will get his first chance to call off center fielder Peter Bourjos in a few minutes against the Seattle Mariners. He’s unlikely to play the whole game, but is any player more exciting to watch for just a few innings? Even at 240 pounds?

As for Richards, it’s his first shot to prove that he belongs on the Angels’ Opening Day roster. Definitely more on the line for him today.

Here are some links from around the league:

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Cubs 11, Angels (SS) 2: Postgame thoughts.

Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. — Jerome Williams knows his place on the Los Angeles Angels’ pitching staff. His job is to be ready for any role necessary.

Making his first spring training start since 2007, Williams allowed a home run to Luis Valbuena but little else Saturday as an Angels split squad was beaten 11-2 by the Chicago Cubs.

“I got the first homer out of the way,” Williams said. “It was a curve. (Valbuena) had to go down to get it and he did.”

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