MIAMI -- As the Angels alighted in South Florida, bench coach Rob Picciolo was eager to spend a few moments with Jack McKeon, named the Marlins' interim manager after the resignation on Sunday of Edwin Rodriguez in the midst of a deep slump by his team.
Picciolo and McKeon go way back to 1977, when Picciolo made his Major League debut as an infielder for the Oakland A's under McKeon's stewardship. Thirteen years later, it was McKeon again, in San Diego, who gave Picciolo his first big league coaching job. When Greg Riddoch was elevated to the Padres' managerial post by McKeon, who became the general manager, Picciolo was promoted from his roving infield instructor role to San Diego's first-base coach.
"He's never been a worrier," Picciolo said when asked about McKeon's ability to handle the responsibilities at age 80. "Each day is a new day with Jack. He hasn't changed much. He comes in with energy every day and expects you to play hard. He doesn't have a lot of rules, but he's in charge. If you don't play his way, you hear about it. He's also an encouraging type guy."
In the throes of a monumental slump, the Marlins might benefit from McKeon's touch, Picciolo said.
"He brings energy," Picciolo said, "and also a sense of, `Relax and have fun.' He knows it's a privilege to be in the Major Leagues. He's pretty simple -- not real complicated. He'll tell it like it is. I'm really looking forward to seeing him again. I've been real good friends with his son-in-law, Greg Booker, since late in the '90s. I'll always be grateful to Jack for giving me my first opportunity both as a player and a coach in the big leagues."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia also had high praise for McKeon, adding that he can't see himself working at 80.
"No, I can't," Scioscia said. "But I tell you one thing: The job that he did in '03 was incredible. He's got a great passion for this game. I'm sure he still has the energy. He's just oozing with common sense. He knows the game."
Callaspo expected back in lineup Tuesday
MIAMI -- With Alberto Callaspo close to rejoining the lineup at third base, the Angels have returned infielder Andrew Romine to Triple-A Salt Lake and summoned reliever Michael Kohn, who was expected to arrive in the early evening and be available if needed in the Interleague series opener against the Marlins.
Callaspo, out since June 11 with a pulled left hamstring, went through another strenuous workout on Monday and figures to be in the starting lineup on Tuesday night. Kohn, who excelled for the Angels last season but struggled with his command before getting demoted on April 10, deepens the bullpen with his ability to pitch in a variety of roles.
"He's got a much more consistent delivery now," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Kohn. "He's much more consistent with his breaking ball and just, I think, he feels much better at where his game is now. He's getting results, so hopefully it will be able to translate to coming up here."
Callaspo, one of the club's most productive offensive weapons for the first six weeks, had fallen into an 0-for-17 slump at the time of his injury. He was hitless in one pinch-hit effort in New York over the weekend and is batting .283 with three homers and 28 RBIs in 230 at-bats.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
Kohn was 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in five appearances before getting sent down, with three walks and four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings. Kohn was 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 24 appearances for the Angels last year after pitching at Double-A Arkansas and Salt Lake earlier in the season.
Kohn has been on a roll at Salt Lake, having held opponents without a run in his past 11 appearances. In 28 games with the Bees, he is 1-1 with seven saves and a 2.67 ERA. He has 42 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings.
Wells putting slow start for Angels behind
MIAMI -- All along, Vernon Wells maintained that it was only a matter of time before he found his rhythm and timing and started making things happen with the bat. That time apparently has arrived.
In the first six games of the Four Corners road trip in Seattle and New York, Wells has hit .292 with three homers and seven RBIs. Over his past 19 games, he has six homers and 14 RBIs. After a dismal start, he was just starting to come around when he strained his right groin on May 9, returning on June 6.
"There are plenty of at-bats, plenty of games to go," said Wells, who is coming off a three-hit, three-RBI performance on Sunday against the Mets, his best in an Angels uniform. "I don't care what happened before. Move on. I'm just trying to take good swings."
Wells was in center field for Monday night's series opener against the Marlins. It was his eighth start at his natural position. He has been in left for 38 games. Peter Bourjos, hitting .357 on the road trip and covering his customary acres of ground, was the odd man out with Bobby Abreu in left and Torii Hunter in right. Hunter is the only player to have appeared in all 73 Angels games through Sunday.
Aybar's new idol is Mets shortstop Reyes
MIAMI -- As a kid growing up in the Dominican Republic, Erick Aybar watched everything Rafael Furcal did and wanted to play shortstop just the way Furcal did. Aybar still holds Furcal in high regard, but he has acquired a new gold standard: Jose Reyes of the Mets.
Aybar and Reyes spent the weekend at Citi Field taking turns making superlative plays and delivering key hits in a series taken by the Angels. As the Angels prepared to board a flight for South Florida after Sunday's game, Aybar had Reyes' No. 7 game jersey -- courtesy of the man himself -- hanging in his locker.
"That's my favorite," Aybar said, nodding toward the Reyes shirt. "That's why I got the jersey. He's a great player and a good guy. He'll talk to anybody. He's always in a good mood. He's the way a professional is supposed to be. That's how I want to be."
No shortstop in the game is on Reyes' level right now, but Aybar is having a solid season. He's batting .277 with 28 RBIs and 26 runs scored in 58 games and is 14-for-16 in steal attempts. Defensively, Reyes is one of the few on Aybar's level.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.