Tagged: Spring Training

Minor League Spring Training, Day Two

Jered Weaver threw a simulated game session today.

Another day of photos from minor league camp are now on-line at:


Among other things, you’ll see a photo of Jered Weaver throwing his simulated game.  Most of the Angels brass was in attendance, including Bill Stoneman, Mike Scioscia, Mike Butcher and more.  Bobby Wilson caught the session, with right-handed batter Michael Collins and left-handed batter Brad Coon alternating in the box.  Four or five minor leaguers were scattered in the outfield to shag balls.

This was strictly for exercise, not to pitch in actual game conditions, so Weaver wasn’t trying to blow away anyone.  But on his final pitch, he took his time and painted the inside corner at the knees.

Stoneman and Scioscia spent quite some time watching the various minor league workouts in the morning.  You’ll see a photo of Scioscia talking with minor league field coordinator Bruce Hines.  Unlike many organizations, the Angels are very disciplined about the entire organization being on the same page when it cames to the way they play the game.  I’ve heard the minor league managers and coaches many times tell players to do something the way Scioscia wants it.  So it’s not the least bit surprising that he’d be there on an off-day.  Pitching coach Mike Butcher and third base coach Dino Ebel also put in an appearance.

It seemed like rehab day on the mound.  Mitch Arnold and Bobby Cassevah, both coming back from Tommy John surgery, threw in games.  I also got to see Warner Madrigal pitch the 9th for the Rancho Cucamonga team.  Madrigal was originally a power-hitting outfielder in the lower minors, but after a couple broken hand injuries and a lot of unfulfilled promise at the plate the Angels decided to convert him last year into a reliever.  He’s throwing in the mid-90s and already has a slider and changeup.  He was effective against the Oakland roster he faced, 1-2-3 in the 9th.

There’s an outfielder on the Rancho roster right now named Anthony Norman, who used to play for UCLA.  He was signed in February.  I don’t know his background, so if anyone is familiar with him please chip in.  You’ll see a photo of him making a head-first dive to score in the 1st inning.

All the guys cut yesterday were in camp today.  Got to say hi to Brandon Wood and Nick Adenhart.  Erick Aybar was hanging out later in the day.

As for Korean pitcher Young-Il Jung, I’ve seen an interpreter assigned to him but he seems to spend a lot of time without the interpreter conversing with his teammates.  How much he knows, much less understands, is debatable.

We face the Giants teams tomorrow, then I head home on Wednesday.

This article is copyright © 2007 Wordsmith Resources and FutureAngels.com. It may not be used elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author.

Minor League Spring Training, Day One

Hank Conger was the Angels’ first-round draft pick in June 2006.

I’m in Tempe for three days to shoot photos and video at minor league camp. I’ll post a few photos each day at this link:


The video will have to wait until I return to Orange County.

You’ll see Hank Conger and Young-Il Jung in the photos. Jung was the starting pitcher today, and Conger was his catcher. Jung was very wild, and appeared to be on a limited pitch count as he was removed in the second inning. In minor league spring training, a manager can call "roll over" or "switch sides" to end an inning before three outs if his pitcher is exceeding his anticipated pitch count. That’s what happened to Jung in the 2nd, and he didn’t start the 3rd. I doubt he was hurt, as he came out later and joined his teammates in the bleachers to watch the rest of the game. (Something in Korean was handwritten under the bill of his cap.)

WIth a runner on 3rd in the top of the 1st, Conger sailed a pickoff throw down the 3rd base line.

Because the parent club had a split-squad day, and the Triple-A and Double-A teams were on the road, there were very few "name" players at the minor league camp for this afternoon’s games.

Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg is managing the Cubs’ Low-A Peoria team this year. He coached third base today in the game Jung and Conger played in for the "Cedar Rapids" squad.

This was my first visit to the new minor league complex. As many people know, the Angels’ had a separate minor league complex in Mesa from 1984 through 2005. It was like going from a Mini-Cooper to an Escalade. I miss the intimacy of Gene Autry Park, but it was pretty obvious how handy this is for the parent club. Announcements were made over the P.A. for players to report to Tempe Diablo Stadium across the parking lot when they were needed for the split-squad game.

Tomorrow is an off-day for the parent club but the minor league complex is in full swing, so I’m curious to see whether Moreno, Stoneman, Scioscia and crew spend the day at minor league camp or take the day to go smell the roses … By the way, the temperature has approached 100 degrees yesterday and today. Oh, and regular gas is about $2.65 – $2.70 a gallon. Their price isn’t as high because they don’t pay extra for all the additional refining to keep the air clean and the gas tax is lower. If you’re driving out, it’s always a handy tip to try to gas up after you cross the border into Arizona, and on the way back to do so just before re-entering California.

This article is copyright © 2007 Wordsmith Resources and FutureAngels.com. It may not be used elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author.

Spring Training Checkpoint — Part 1

We’re about one-third of the way through major league spring training camp, so let’s review where things stand with decisions affecting prospects.

Casey Kotchman will be at the bat many times this year if his health holds up.

FIRST BASE — Casey Kotchman hit a monster homer today to right field, and it’s starting to look like he’ll have a lock on the job come Opening Night. Kendry Morales hasn’t embarrassed himself either, but he still has work to do in the minors. Let’s not forget that Kendry has been playing pro ball for only a year and a half. If Casey nails the first base position, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kendry is moved at Triple-A Salt Lake to a corner outfield position this year to give him more versatility with the parent club when he finally arrives.

SECOND BASE — Howie Kendrick today muffed a grounder up the middle in the top of the 1st but otherwise has shown he’s capable of playing a major league second base. Offensively, he ended the day with a .500 average.

SHORTSTOP — Orlando Cabrera isn’t going anywhere. Maicer Izturis will be the utility infielder, with Erick Aybar being given every opportunity to make the club as well as a second utility player. It’s more likely that Erick will return to Salt Lake and play shortstop, with the center field idea shelved unless Arte Moreno somehow succeeds in banishing Gary Matthews Jr.

THIRD BASE — It’ll be Chone Figgins unless something goes bad. Brandon Wood twisted an ankle last week when he stepped on a bat in foul territory, but he returned to action today in the split-squad game at Surprise against the Rangers. Matt Brown has impressed in limited opportunities, but it looks like he’ll return to Double-A Arkansas with Wood playing 3B in Salt Lake.

LEFT FIELD — Garret Anderson looks healthy. He stole a base today in his first at-bat, showing last year’s foot injury is long gone.

Once a shortstop, Tommy Murphy could make the parent club roster as a spare outfielder.

CENTER FIELD — Gary Matthews Jr. hasn’t posted impressive numbers, but it’s foolish to judge veterans players by the first ten days of spring training. As we all know, he’s being pressured by his employer to give public testimony about his alleged ordering of human growth hormone in August 2004, testimony that could be used against him in court. Moreno brought in Commissioner Bud Selig yesterday as backup, and at the top of today’s telecast the Angels broadcasters (no doubt under orders) urged Matthews to tell all. Although his lawyers have told him he can’t force Matthews to compromise his rights, Moreno seems to be looking for a way to do so. One option not mentioned in print is to banish Matthews to the minors, which is unlikely but it shouldn’t be dismissed. If something happens to Matthews, then Tommy Murphy or Reggie Willitts would be the leading candidates. One of them will probably make the parent club as a reserve outfielder.

RIGHT FIELD — Vlad Guerrero looks fully recovered from last year’s nagging injuries. Of course, if anything catastrophic happened to Vladi then the Angels would be seriously hosed. With no ETA for Juan Rivera’s recovery, the Angels might want to think about giving Kendry Morales playing time at RF in Salt Lake, but there’s no sign that move is imminent. Veteran outfielder Curtis Pride saw some RF time in today’s game and would be the likely callup, although Murphy and Willitts have also seen RF time in the minors.

CATCHER — The three-way duel for two jobs continues between Jose Molina, Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis. Molina is a lock unless he gets hurt. Mathis has been the better defender so far, but Napoli has been the better hitter. My guess is Napoli gets the edge unless Mathis comes on strong this month and Napoli tanks.

STARTING ROTATION — John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, and Ervin Santana are all progressing as expected, although Lackey missed a start due to strep throat and Santana pitched with a neck strain in his last night. Bartolo Colon is rehabbing faster than anticipated, although he’s still only throwing fastballs in bullpen sessions. Jered Weaver is doing the same, although he’s expected to be ready sooner. Joe Saunders will be in the rotation until both of those guys are ready and then return to Triple-A, with Hector Carrasco the probable spot starter. Looking ahead at potential rehab starts in April, Salt Lake is at home April 5-12, then in Las Vegas April 13-16 and Tucson April 17-20, so it’s entirely plausible that Colon and/or Weaver could rehab with the Triple-A team instead of Rancho Cucamonga.

BULLPEN — Not many job opportunities here. Francisco Rodriguez, Scot Shields, Justin Speier are all locks, and probably Hector Carrasco and Darren Oliver too. That leaves one opening with many candidates. Chris Resop and Phil Seibel pitched today in the split-squad game against Oakland, but neither particularly took charge. Chris Bootcheck pitched two scoreless innings in the split-squad game against the Rangers. Also in the mix are Matt Hensley, Greg Jones, Marcus Gwyn and Dustin Moseley. Right now, Bootcheck is the only one who’s been effective, although Moseley pitched five scoreless innings yesterday in a split-squad start against the Rangers … The Triple-A bullpen will be well-stocked. Along with whomever doesn’t make the parent club, Jason Bulger returns along with Matt Wilhite and Alex Serrano.

I’ll be at minor league camp March 18-20, so look for another update after I return. For those unfamiliar with FutureAngels.com, I run it alone without any financial support from the Angels or their minor league affiliates. I’ll be returning with plenty photos, audio and video of the minor leaguers, some of which I might be able to post same-day from the hotel in Tempe. As with everything else on the web site, I can only do as much as the site financially sustains.

If you enjoy the site’s contents, please consider a donation or voluntary subscription. So far I’ve received $150 in donations for 2007, which is exceptionally generous. The donations not only help with the travel costs but also the addition of new features such as this blog, the bulletin board and the polls. Sales of the photos help a little but it’s never enough. So if you want to see more, please consider helping out.

This article is copyright © 2007 Wordsmith Resources and FutureAngels.com. It may not be used elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author.

Angels on TV Today (March 3)

Today’s Angels game against Colorado will be telecast tape-delayed on Fox Sports Net West at 7 PM PST.

That means plenty of the "future Angels" will get face time since this early in the year the regulars are long-gone by the 4th inning or so.  A rare opportunity to see some of the players you’ve only heard about until now.

This article is copyright © 2007 Wordsmith Resources and FutureAngels.com. It may not be used elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author.

Meanwhile, in Baseball …

While the Angels’ front office sweats out the P.R. ramifications of the Gary Matthews Jr. story, the players actually got to play ball yesterday.

It’s always folly to project a season based on one game, especially the meaningless first game of spring training, but it was nice to see some positive news about a couple players from yesterday’s contest against Kansas City.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports:

Jeff Mathis, who is hoping to re-establish himself as a front-line catcher after his rookie-season washout of 2006, made two outstanding defensive plays.

In the sixth inning, with Paul Phillips at first, a Chris Resop pitch bounced in the dirt in front of the plate. Phillips took off for second, but Mathis pounced on the ball and nailed Phillips with a perfect off-balance throw.

In the seventh, another Resop pitch bounced to the side of the plate. Shane Costa tried to advance from first, and Mathis fired a strike to second.

One goal for Ervin Santana this spring is to clean up the release point on his slider. Matt Hurst of the Riverside Press-Enterprise, who posts updates mid-game on his Baseball Blog, reports early success with Santana’s mechanics:

Working on a new release point for his slider, Ervin Santana threw only three in two scoreless innings against the Royals. Two of his sliders were for strikeouts, and the third also was a strike.

"I’m trying to be the best," he said. "I have the stuff to do it."

Of greater concern is Jered Weaver, whose biceps tendinitis has limited him to long toss. Doug Padilla of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group reports:

On the rehab front, Scioscia admitted that for the first time he can see a scenario where Bartolo Colon actually gets on a mound before Jered Weaver. Weaver was supposed to be doing some fine-tuning until his biceps felt better but his progress has been slow.

Colon, who has been rehabbing a more serious rotator cuff injury sustained last season, has been making significant progress. Colon had a long-toss session from 160 feet Thursday, while Weaver threw from 130 feet.

"Two weeks ago I would have said no way," Scioscia said about Colon passing Weaver in recovery. "Right now, the way Bart is progressing, it’s probably not likely, but as good as Bart feels you start to see some light at the end of the tunnel when he’ll get on the mound.

"Once Jered gets over this bump in the road, he’ll come quickly, whereas Bart needs to step up his stamina."

This article is copyright © 2007 Wordsmith Resources and FutureAngels.com. It may not be used elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author.