ANAHEIM -- While playing for the Rockies in 2007, veteran Angels reliever LaTroy Hawkins came up with his own version of annual rookie hazing. Instead of having them all dress up in costumes, like most teams do, he had them carry around a teddy bear for the final two weeks of the regular season.
On Wednesday, he brought that concept to the Angels clubhouse. Mike Trout got a Hello Kitty-looking one, Kole Calhoun's is purple and Garrett Richards got one that lights up and even talks.
"My new best friend," Richards, within earshot, beamed. "It's right next to my bed so I don't forget it."
Hawkins has found it to be a good conversation starter.
"They see grown men carrying a teddy bear, people ask questions, right?" the 39-year-old right-hander said. "So they get to tell them what they're doing and what they do for a living and why they have to do it. Who knows, somebody might meet their wife."
The expectation is that the Angels' rookies carry these teddy bears with them everywhere they go until the end of the regular season on Oct. 3. To the grocery story, to the mall, to bed, to the ballpark -- everywhere that's not the actual baseball field. If they're caught without it, Hawkins said there will be "special repercussions."
"Just camaraderie," Hawkins said when asked for the reason behind it. "Young guys, listening to the older guys, knowing their place in the clubhouse. You have to crawl before you walk around here. You just don't get here and start walking. We have some great young guys here, but it's a process that we all have to go through."
And that includes Trout, the potential American League Most Valuable Player.
Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki "had to carry one in '07," Hawkins said, "and he loved it."
GM Dipoto talks Trout, Cabrera, MVP, WAR
ANAHEIM -- Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto already knows who should be the American League's Most Valuable Player.
"If there is a definition of the Most Valuable Player," he said, "I think Mike Trout's picture would be next to it this year."
But Dipoto admits he's quite biased in this case.
"Look, we're all going to be jaded," he said. "We all think our guy is the best guy, and [the Angels] are no different. I mean, we think Mike deserves to be in the conversation and I'll be disappointed for him if he doesn't win the award, because I think he'd deserve it.
"But I'm not going to sit here and compare and contrast, because I think Miguel Cabrera is having a season for the ages, as well -- something we haven't seen, quite frankly, in 40 years."
Dipoto, of course, is referring to the Triple Crown, which the Tigers' Cabrera has a legitimate shot at with the AL lead in batting average (.333) and RBIs (130), while one away in homers with 41. The last time it happened was actually 45 years ago, when Carl Yastrzemski did it for the Red Sox in 1967.
"That doesn't happen in every lifetime," Dipoto said. "So, to undersell the value of that would be ludicrous. Miguel Cabrera is having an unbelievable season and his team is in the thick of it, as well."
Trout leads the league in runs and stolen bases, and sits six points behind Cabrera for the batting title while hitting 27 homers. But the fact that his greatest value comes via sabermetrics stats is what makes this MVP debate so interesting.
It's a clash between the new- and old-school ways of analyzing this game.
"I think Mike Trout is the MVP of the American League because I get to watch him every day," Dipoto said. "I see the difference he makes on the field, what he does on the bases, what he does defensively, the different elements he brings to the game, which, quite frankly, can't be mentioned in a stat line."
And that's where Wins Above Replacement comes in -- or, at least, tries to.
Those touting Trout's MVP case point to WAR, which, as FanGraphs.com puts it, "is an attempt by the sabermetric baseball community to summarize a player's total contributions to their team in one statistic." Trout's WAR coming into Thursday's game against the Rangers was 10.2. The second-place guy in the AL, Robinson Cano, is way behind at 6.6 (Cabrera has a score of 6.5).
Dipoto, big on sabermetrics, likes using WAR. But he believes there's "no single perfect number," and that includes the statistic that tries to be all-encompassing. Dipoto has apprehensions on how WAR measures defense, as well as the baseline they define for a "replacement player."
"It's a good tool to use in reference, but it's not a stand-alone number that should be the end-all, be-all," Dipoto said.
"I have my own opinions on the reason for Mike's value, and I'll use all those numbers to help contribute to it. But to say that there's one number that defines that, I don't know that that's true."
Wilson meets with Scioscia, pitching coach
ANAHEIM -- Early Thursday afternoon, after lasting only 2 2/3 innings in a critical start against the Rangers the night before, C.J. Wilson met with manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher in what was at least their second closed-door strategy session of the season.
Wilson, 12-10 with a 3.82 ERA on the year, will remain in the rotation.
"It's just a strategy meeting of just trying to get him to get his best stuff out on the field," said Scioscia, who didn't want to go into much greater detail than that. "We have a lot of confidence in what he can do. We just want to maybe refine some simple things."
The Angels had a similar meeting with Wilson in Chicago on Aug. 3, one day after he gave up eight runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Rangers. On Wednesday night, his next appearance against his former team, Wilson walked the bases loaded in the first inning, gave up three runs in the third and finished throwing 31 of his 66 pitches for balls.
Afterward, Wilson said he "wasn't happy" to get taken out of the game so early. "But I wasn't doing well, either," he added, "so it's my own fault."
The 31-year-old left-hander has struggled mightily in his last two meetings against Texas, giving up a combined 11 runs on 14 hits and six walks in eight innings. But, as Wilson said, "my biggest issue hasn't been particular hitters or anything like that, it's more that I'm my own worst enemy."
And Wilson's biggest personal issue usually boils down to over-thinking things.
"He's pitched some great baseball, and part of what his talent is is being able to do so much with the baseball," Scioscia said. "Hopefully, he's going to get comfortable and get back to that. I don't want to go into too much detail. But we can't overstate how much we need our starters to do what they're capable of."
The Angels announced Thursday that tickets for a potential Wild Card game and Division Series are now on sale and can be purchased exclusively at angels.com. Fans will be limited to a maximum of four tickets per game, per household for any round of the postseason. On Monday, tickets for a possible tiebreaker game at Angel Stadium will go on sale at angels.com, also at 10 a.m. PT. Tickets for potential games at Angel Stadium for the American League Championship Series go on sale next Thursday. World Series sales begin Oct. 11.
Angels outfielder Peter Bourjos hasn't been available for "anything significant" the last few days because of intestinal problems, manager Mike Scioscia said. He's available to play defense and pinch-run if needed, though.
Angels center fielder Mike Trout recently signed his first major sponsorship deal with BODYARMOR SuperDrink. Trout, according to ESPN, will be paid cash and also receive a small equity stake in the upstart company, which is projected to hit $10 million in sales during its first year.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read 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.