ARLINGTON -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia paid young relief pitcher Michael Kohn no small compliment when he praised his "makeup" as one of the factors that has enabled the rookie right-hander to flourish in his first exposure to the Major League environment.
In his his third professional season and fourth as a pitcher, Kohn has forged a 2.11 ERA across 21 1/3 innings, with a 2-0 record entering Sunday. The South Carolinian has held hitters to a .227 batting average with 20 strikeouts.
"His makeup is good," said Scioscia, who has seen Kohn climb the depth chart into a potential back-end role in the bullpen.
"He's a former catcher and has an understanding of the pitcher-catcher relationship from a different perspective. He's really come a long way in a short amount of time. His aptitude should enable him to progress into a potential back-end guy."
Kohn showed his composure in working out of a two-on, none-out situation in the bottom of the 11th inning on Friday night against the Rangers to nail down a save for fellow reliever Rich Thompson, whose ERA is 1.45 ERA in 12 innings entering Sunday.
For Kohn, it was one of those tests managers and club executives use to evaluate young talent trying to make an impression, and he passed impressively by striking out Elvis Andrus and Michael Young after a brilliant play by shortstop Andrew Romine created an out at third on a force.
"The way I handle myself, trying not to let things rattle me on the mound," Kohn said when asked what he thought Scioscia meant with the comment about his makeup.
"I was taught to have a poker face. In a situation like that, I have to make sure my head is clear and take a deep breath. And then just do what you've done playing the game for 18 years."
In Kohn's case, however, playing the game for most of those years was from a hitter's viewpoint. He didn't become a pitcher until his senior year at College of Charleston when he went to the mound on a lark, found that he could throw in the mid-90s, and discovered a whole new career path.
Scioscia has seen Kohn's velocity dip "two notches" from 93 mph consistently last season to 91 this year. The manager would like to see him bring it back to that level, and as Kohn's self-assurance rises, he'll be able to cut loose with a little more freedom.
Kohn has shown a consistent ability to get hitters out even without his premium stuff. This goes to makeup, the catch-all phrase for having the ability to manage crises with poise and intelligence.
Matsui has proven that he can still produce
ARLINGTON -- Any doubts about Hideki Matsui's ability to continue as a productive big league player have been erased, at least in the mind of his manager, Mike Scioscia.
Even if he doesn't return to the Angels, who might return to a designated-hitter-by-committee in 2011, Scioscia is convinced Matsui can help a club with his bat and leadership.
Batting fifth as the DH in Sunday's season finale, Matsui took a .271 batting average into the game with 20 homers and 82 RBIs. He is slugging .451 with a .359 on-base percentage.
After not playing at all in the outfield in 2009, his final season with the Yankees, Matsui started 17 games in left and handled the job capably, showing a strong, accurate arm.
"There's no doubt about Hideki being able to produce at the Major League level," Scioscia said. "He still has the bat speed. I'm impressed -- we're all impressed -- with how his legs have rebounded. He's running very well. In the first month of the season, he was terrific. As his legs have rebounded, you've seen how his production has stepped up.
"He's got plenty of baseball left in him as a guy who's maybe not going to be as dynamic as he was four, five years ago, but still can be an important contributor to a lineup that you need in the American League."
From a character standpoint, Matsui was every bit as good as advertised.
"He's incredible," Scioscia said. "Not only is he professional, he's got a good sense of humor. He's shown some very strong leadership. When you get a guy like Derek Jeter saying the guy is the most professional and best teammate he's been around, that says it all. The guy is terrific."
Haren glad he received final start of season
ARLINGTON -- As he'd hoped, Dan Haren got the call for the season finale for the Angels on Sunday against the Rangers.
Manager Mike Scioscia had considered a committee approach to the 162nd game but opted to let Haren go beyond his career norms in starts and innings pitched.
The start was Haren's 35th. After striking out Michael Young for the second out in the first on Sunday, he established a career high in innings, which he set last year while playing for the D-backs, with 229 1/3.
Scioscia said there would be no "artificial limits" set on Haren, who had been on a roll with a 3-0 record and 1.53 ERA in his past seven starts, striking out 45 hitters in 47 innings entering Sunday.
"I feel good and would like to have a nice finish," Haren said. "I was hoping I'd get the OK to go out there."
Heading into the final day, Haren was sixth in the Majors in innings pitched. If he goes six innings, he'll tie Chris Carpenter for fourth. Roy Halladay is the game's iron man with 250 2/3 innings, three outs more than Felix Hernandez delivered.
Jered Weaver, Haren's co-ace, is tied for sixth with Justin Verlander with 224 1/3 innings. It is a career high for Weaver, who said it meant more to him than his MLB-best 233 strikeouts -- one more than Hernandez and two more than Tim Lincecum. Weaver also had a career high in starts with 34.
The Angels are finishing below .500 for the first time since 2003, when they were 77-85. Offense is the big culprit. They dropped from first in the AL in batting average to 10th, from second in runs to ninth, and watched their average with runners in scoring position fall from .297, best in the Majors, to .241 heading into the final game. ... Howard Kendrick, with 41 doubles, is the first Angels second baseman to reach that plateau since Johnny Ray delivered 42 in 1988. With 41 two-baggers, Bobby Abreu joins Kendrick as the only Angels with at least 40 doubles in a season since Jim Edmonds (42) and Garret Anderson (41) in 1998. ... Jered Weaver's .222 opponents' batting average yielded is the lowest by an Angels pitcher with at least 30 starts since Mark Langston's .215 in 1991. ... Weaver finished 13-12 but had five leads get away on blown saves by the bullpen. An 18-12 record would have been more accurately representative of his performance. Weaver's 1.07 WHIP left him tied with Felix Hernandez for second in the AL behind Cliff Lee (1.00). Weaver's anticipated MLB strikeout crown with 233 is the first by an Angels pitcher since Nolan Ryan racked up 341 in 1977.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.