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?
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:
Will 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.
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.”