Izzy faces last stand: 'Pitch well or go home'
Angels veteran looks good in first of back-to-back outings
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- These next two days are two big ones for veteran reliever Jason Isringhausen.
"Just pitch well or go home," the 39-year-old right-hander said Wednesday morning. "One of the two."
Through the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Angels would have to pay Isringhausen an extra $100,000 to keep him on their roster past Thursday. The right-hander seemed to get through Day 1 fine, hurling a clean inning against the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark on Wednesday, and is scheduled to pitch at home against the Royals on Thursday in hopes of bouncing back from a few rough patches.
The way he looks at it, this is his last chance to prove he belongs in the Angels' bullpen to start the season.
If he doesn't, Isringhausen -- a veteran of 15 years who has undergone three Tommy John surgeries and ranks third among active pitchers with 300 career saves -- won't be going down to the Minor Leagues.
"I'll just go home and be with my girls," he said.
"I just have to go out there today and pitch the way I'm capable of pitching. And if I don't today and tomorrow, I'll go home. I understand the concept. That's just how it is."
The first outing seemed to go well for Isringhausen, who got a strikeout, a groundout and a lineout in a seventh inning in which manager Mike Scioscia said his stuff "looked much better."
"I think he was in his delivery better," Scioscia added, "and it gave him much better arm speed, he was able to get the ball out in front more, he spun it well and had good stuff today."
Isringhausen, who was brought in on a Minor League contract at the start of camp but still hasn't been added to the 40-man roster, hadn't particularly impressed this spring, giving up four runs in 3 2/3 Cactus League innings heading into Wednesday. In Sunday's ninth inning, he gave up a walk, a hit batsman and a game-tying two-run double while recording only two outs.
Isringhausen had been battling some mechanics issues.
"When my mechanics are bad, it feels bad," he said. "But when my mechanics feel good, it feels good. First couple times it felt good, last couple times it felt bad. I started off good, and in my mind, the outings have regressed a little bit. I understand what I need to do the next couple days."
The Angels technically have three spots open in their bullpen, with Isringhausen, Kevin Jepsen, Trevor Bell, Francisco Rodriguez and Rich Thompson (out of options) vying for them. Bobby Cassevah (slight tear in labrum) and Michael Kohn (forearm strain) are expected to start the season on the disabled list.
Isringhausen is just fine with going home and calling it a career this week.
But his preference is to help the Angels.
"I want to, but it's not do or die if I don't," Isringhausen said. "But I came here to pitch for this team. I want to help them win, I want to be on a winning team, and that's why I'm here."
Haren working through spring bout of dead arm
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It happens basically every spring. Dan Haren was actually surprised it took this long. They call it "dead arm" -- in this case, referring to that point in spring when the electricity on pitches isn't there and starters pretty much hit a wall -- and Haren felt it against the Reds on Wednesday.
"I've been battling it for a couple days," Haren said. "Usually, right about now, if not a little bit before, you get it. It lasts about a week or so. I'm sure it'll be fine."
Haren, who came in having given up just three runs in 15 Cactus League innings, gave up two runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings to bring his spring ERA to 2.18 in the Angels' 5-4 loss. His next start -- his last before the regular season -- will come under the lights against the Dodgers at Angel Stadium on Monday, which Haren admits does provide a little needed adrenaline.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia believes most pitchers go through that "dead arm" phase.
"It's just part of Spring Training," Scioscia added.
"The arm feels slow. That's all it really is," Haren said. "And I think the normal thing to do is to try to add a little bit, then your mechanics can get a little out of sort. So I wasn't trying to add too much. I knew my arm wasn't feeling that great. Health-wise, my body feels great, my arm is healthy, and I'm where I need to be.
"Next time out, I'm sure it'll feel a lot better. Then it's game time."
Weary Morales takes breather to recharge
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Angels slugger Kendrys Morales was previously slated to start at Goodyear Ballpark on Wednesday, but the Reds changed their mind about utilizing the designated hitter, so Morales instead took a day off while feeling a little fatigued.
Part of the reason for that is Morales is still working himself back into baseball shape after being unable to run for so long because of his left ankle. He's normally somewhere between 232 and 235 pounds but is currently at 240.
Another reason is that he's not really a morning person.
"I've been getting up early a little too long," Morales said in Spanish on Wednesday. "All my therapy has been during the day. It gets to a point where it takes a lot out of you."
But the 28-year-old switch-hitter doesn't think he'll be fatigued much during the regular season, where he'll be called upon to play five or six times a week. The drastic schedule change -- with everything being early in the morning in March, then everything being later in the day beginning in April -- will benefit him, Morales believes.
"I think it'll be easier [during the regular season]," Morales said. "It'll give me more chances to rest up during the day. Here, you have to get up at 6 a.m., the game starts at 1 and at 4 you're out. It's too long a day. At night, you feel a little more fresh."
Morales went 2-for-4 but didn't run the bases while playing in a Triple-A game at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale on Tuesday. He has gone 8-for-13 with a homer in Cactus League play and has compiled 29 at-bats this spring if you count his Minor League games.
The plan is for Morales to serve as the DH on Thursday and Friday, then Sunday and Monday (at Angel Stadium). He'll then pinch-hit in the two games at Dodger Stadium, likely giving him just under 50 plate appearances this spring.
Considering where Morales is at, manager Mike Scioscia believes that will be enough.
"It's tough to find anything he's not ready for swinging," Scioscia said. "He's laid off off-speed pitches, hit off-speed pitches, catching up with the fuzz, both right-handed and left-handed, so he feels good with where he is."
The Royals will have two lefties starting the opening series at Angel Stadium, with Bruce Chen going in Game 1 and Jonathan Sanchez going in Game 3. Morales will either sit or hit lower in the lineup on those days.
Relievers Cassevah, Kohn likely to start on DL
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Right-handed Angels relievers Bobby Cassevah (labrum tear) and Michael Kohn (forearm strain) are both expected to start the season on the disabled list.
Kohn has posted a 4.01 ERA in 38 appearances for the Angels the last two years, but put up a 7.30 mark in 12 1/3 innings last year. The 25-year-old had hurled five scoreless one-inning appearances this spring, but hasn't checked into a game since March 17 and won't restart his throwing program for at least another week.
Cassevah threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday and said he "felt normal." The 26-year-old would be eligible to be reinstated off the disabled list for the first time on April 11 and believes he should be ready to contribute by then.
"I'd rather make sure I'm ready than try to rush back and have a setback," said Cassevah, the sinkerballer who posted a 2.72 ERA in 30 games last year. "I'll be ready soon after [the season starts]."
The Angels have three spots open in their bullpen, with Jason Isringhausen, Kevin Jepsen, Trevor Bell, Francisco Rodriguez and Rich Thompson (out of options) vying for them.
Bobby Abreu went 0-for-4 in the Angels' 5-4 walk-off loss to the Reds on Wednesday, with three groundouts to the right side and a strikeout. The 38-year-old is 4-for-46 (.087) this spring.
Kevin Jepsen, vying for an open bullpen spot, gave up a leadoff homer to Paul Janish in the eighth inning, putting his ERA at 5.00 through nine Cactus League frames. But manager Mike Scioscia said: "There's going to be some balls that are going to get hit from time to time when you're working on stuff, but I think he's much more comfortable with where his stuff is now than he was at any time last year, and we are, too."
Outfield prospect Jeremy Moore had successful left hip surgery in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday to take care of a bone spur and fix his labrum. He'll be out of baseball activities for a minimum of four months.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.