Sizzling Frandsen steps up for Halos
Versatile reserve spells aching Izturis for series finale
SEATTLE -- Maicer Izturis, experiencing some soreness behind his right knee, was a scratch from Sunday's lineup at third base for the Angels. Such is the team's depth at the moment that Izturis was replaced by a man hitting .452, Kevin Frandsen.
"I could play," Izturis said, "but it's probably better to take a day off. It's pretty cold today."
Inserted into the leadoff spot for Friday night's series opener against the Mariners, Izturis responded with three hits and two walks in nine plate appearances in the two games, scoring four runs and driving in two. Erick Aybar was back in the leadoff role on Sunday against Jason Vargas.
Frandsen, who pinch-hit for Izturis in the seventh inning Saturday and singled and scored, has gone 5-for-10 during the road trip with a pair of RBIs and owns eight hits in 16 at-bats during a five-game hitting streak.
"He's got personality -- he's a little cocky, confident," acting Angels manager Ron Roenicke said of Frandsen on the second day of Mike Scioscia's hiatus to attend his daughter's high school graduation. "He's got some big league experience [with the Giants]. He's not scared of anything.
"We've put him at third, but he's played everything and has got some huge hits for us. He said, 'Hey, I can play right field, left field.' He came to me the other day and said, 'I can play first base.' We only have a four-man bench. It makes it easier for [pitching coach Mike Butcher] to carry a 12-man staff. That kind of player is huge for us, and he's played great."
Bulger on roll out of Angels' bullpen
SEATTLE -- Painting fastballs while bringing in his killer breaking ball and changeup, Jason Bulger is back in full command in his middle-relief role for the Angels.
One of the club's most durable and effective arms last season, Bulger is on a roll with 15 scoreless appearances in his past 17 and 21 strikeouts in 16 innings. He struck out three in two scoreless innings on Saturday against Seattle.
"My fastball command is finally getting back to what it needs to be," Bulger said. "It's not 100 percent, but it's getting closer. Butch [pitching coach Mike Butcher] and I did a few minor tweaks a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes simplifying things does have the biggest impact. Sometimes you try to think about too many things."
Acting manager Ron Roenicke likes what he sees in Bulger's body language, velocity and command.
"When he's confident, he's a totally different pitcher," Roenicke said. "All three of his pitches are Major League pitches. His breaking ball is always there. When he's got the fastball he can throw for strikes and a very good changeup, he's not going to get hit. It's just a matter of confidence."
Ichiro continues to amaze Angels
SEATTLE -- There is nobody quite like Ichiro Suzuki. The Mariners' leadoff artist has reached base six times in eight plate appearances in the first two games against the Angels, who admittedly have no idea how to pitch the man with the golden wand.
"You're not going to stop Ichiro," Angels acting manager Ron Roenicke, subbing for Mike Scioscia, said heading into Sunday's series finale at Safeco Field. "It looks like he looks out and sees where the defense is and hits accordingly.
"We play him off the line at third base and he hits it down the line. Move off the line, and he hits it in the hole. I don't know what to do. He has such good bat command there's not much you can do. He's really different. Obviously, he's a great hitter. There aren't too many guys like him who don't have holes. We talk about it all the time -- 'How are we going to pitch him, so I can set the defense?'
"I felt the same way with [former Angels slugger, now with Texas] Vladimir Guerrero. You don't know how to defense him. He hits to all fields and bloops a lot of balls in. You hope he hits out of the zone and gets himself out."
Wilson gives depth, quality behind plate
SEATTLE -- In the absence of two of their most valuable players -- first baseman Kendry Morales and catcher Jeff Mathis -- the Angels have been forced to mix and match, with Mike Napoli doing double duty at both positions.
The high-caliber play of catcher Bobby Wilson has given Angels manager Mike Scioscia (and interim skipper Ron Roenicke) the confidence to play Napoli at first on occasion and entrust catching duties to the new backup receiver.
Showing he belongs after being named the Pacific Coast League's best defensive catcher last season while at Triple-A Salt Lake, Wilson is 6-0 in his starts with a 2.77 catcher's ERA in 48 2/3 innings.
"Mike [Scioscia] has always liked him," Roenicke said. "He pays so much attention to catching. He's always said the guy is going to be a nice Major League catcher. He's done a great job. He blocks balls very well. His target is very nice. His throwing is good, although sometimes he doesn't have a chance [to nail baserunners with big jumps]. For us, he's been a really good catcher."
Jeff Mathis, recovering from a fractured right wrist, caught a full game for the second day in a row on Saturday for Triple-A Salt Lake, going 1-for-4 with an RBI in a 7-2 loss to Colorado Springs. Brandon Wood was 0-for-4 in his fifth rehab assignment at third base. ... The Angels had won 15 of the previous 22 heading into Sunday's bid for a three-game sweep of the Mariners. ... Moving on to Oakland, where they have won their past five games, the Angels will have manager Mike Scioscia back after he missed the final two games in Seattle to attend daughter Taylor's high school graduation. ... Ben Sheets, Vin Mazzaro, Dallas Braden and Trevor Cahill are lined up in that order for the A's against Scott Kazmir, Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana. ... The Angels have five of the first 40 picks in Monday's First-Year Player Draft, which is rich in the brand of high school talent, especially on the mound, the club traditionally has favored.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.