ANAHEIM -- One week remains in the regular season, and the American League Cy Young Award still seems up for grabs.
There's the Rays' David Price, 19-5 with a 2.56 ERA. There's the White Sox Chris Sale, 17-7 with a 2.86 ERA. There's the Tigers' Justin Verlander, 16-8 with a 2.72 ERA. There's the Mariners' Felix Hernandez, 13-8 with a 2.91 ERA heading into Wednesday's start. And, of course, there's the Angels' Jered Weaver, 19-4 with a 2.74 ERA.
Mike Scioscia believes Weaver, who finished second to Verlander in AL Cy Young voting last year, deserves as much consideration as anybody for the hardware.
"There's no doubt he's in the middle of the conversation," the Angels skipper said. "I don't think there's anyone who can deny that. I think Weave has meant more to our team than probably any pitcher in the staff, just for the fact that for us to even be talking about a pennant race, he had to step up and do what he can do because for a while, he was a lone soldier out there, start after start, when the rest of our rotation was trying to find itself for what seemed like an eternity."
On Weaver's side is the fact that he leads the Majors with a 1.00 WHIP, which many consider the truest measure of a pitcher's effectiveness. What may hurt him is the fact he's tied for 22nd in the AL in innings, at 180 2/3, because he missed time on the disabled list with a back injury and skipped a start due to biceps tendinitis.
Despite that, Weaver, likely to get two more regular-season starts, has a chance to reach 20 wins for the first time in his seven-year career.
"There's no doubt he's put himself into a position for a lot of individual awards and honors, but more importantly than that, he's kept us in a position for us to reach our goal," Scioscia said. "Maybe the one thing a starting pitcher cannot control is really a win or a loss, but he's pitched well enough and deep enough on a consistent basis to have a chance to win 20, and that says a lot for how consistent he's been."
Missing his girls, Izzy leaning toward retirement
ANAHEIM -- Angels reliever Jason Isringhausen puts his chances of retiring at 70-30, in favor of this, his 16th season, being his last one in the Major Leagues.
"But there's no telling what will happen once I get home," he said Wednesday. "I could be at 90-10. I like being home, man."
And for way too long, Isringhausen wasn't home enough. He was busy, living the rigorous life of a Major Leaguer for eight out of 12 months every year, on charter flights, in hotels and at ballparks all over the country.
But Isringhausen turned 40 in early September, is the victim of three Tommy John surgeries, has already reached the 300-save and 50-win milestones -- only 14 others have ever done that -- and now, down the stretch, he's hardly pitching, making just four appearances in September, none of much substance.
It all nudges Isringhausen in the direction of his two daughters, who are 10 and 3 years old and waiting for him back home.
"When I'm not pitching, that makes me miss them more," he said. "I want to be home and my role on the team is not definitive anymore, and I don't like that part. I want to have more fun, more pitching. But if I had pitched better down the stretch, I'd probably be pitching more now. Not too many teams need a 40-year-old who's throwing 90 [mph] when they have kids throwing 96."
Isringhausen stressed that he isn't upset about his role -- he understands he put himself in that predicament. But you know that old baseball saying, "You can't simulate the ninth inning"?
Isringhausen understands that now.
"That's part of baseball I enjoy is that adrenaline," he said. "I don't always get it pitching the fifth or sixth inning. It's not the same. I wasn't bred that way and I'm not wired that way."
Isringhausen hasn't been great for the Angels this year, with a 4.14 ERA for the season and a 5.74 mark since the All-Star break. But when you consider that he didn't even think he'd pitch this year, and the Angels didn't know what to expect when they signed him to a Minor League contract in Spring Training, the fact they've received 50 appearances from him is an accomplishment in itself.
"This year, I got through the whole year without being hurt, and so that was a big accomplishment for me at 40," said Isringhausen, who missed the last month of 2011 with the Mets because of a back injury. "I don't know what else I have to prove."
This offseason, Isringhausen will stay in shape, start throwing again in December, as usual, and keep the phone lines open in case a team in need of his services winds up on the other end. Isringhausen would consider coming back only to a team such as the Royals or Cardinals, near his Illinois home. The chances of that happening, Isringhausen admits, aren't great.
The chance this Angels season, however long it lasts, is his last in the Majors, seem better.
"I'll miss the competition," Isringhausen said. "That's the only thing I love about it now is the pitching part. I love being on the mound throwing against hitters that are the best in the world. That's the only thing I do love. I don't like all the travel, I don't like all the politics and everything that goes on with it. I love the guys, I love being in the clubhouse. But just the traveling gets old, and everything else."
Isringahusen talked about possibly being a high school or collegiate coach, or perhaps some sort of special instructor in the big leagues, when he hangs it up. It's a subject he has admittedly put off. But one thing Isringhausen is sure about: He has no ambitions of joining a Major League coaching staff.
That would defeat the purpose.
"If I do it, it'll be right close to home, where I can be home every night," he said. "I've had 20 years of being gone from home, and I want my next 20 to be at home."
Weaver: OK if Greinke paid more to stay
ANAHEIM -- Jered Weaver, owner of a team-friendly five-year, $85 million contract he signed last August, could've hit free agency in about a month and would've definitely signed a more lucrative deal.
But Weaver continues to say free agency isn't of particular intrigue to him.
"That's why I got my deal done a year ago," he said, "so I didn't have to deal with it."
One person who does have to deal with it, though, is Zack Greinke, whom the Angels traded for in July and would seemingly like to sign to a contract extension this offseason. Reports have linked Greinke to a deal worth roughly $125 million over six years, and some have wondered whether the Angels would be willing to pay another pitcher more than Weaver, who's the clear-cut ace of this staff.
"I don't think it's up to me, really," said Weaver, who, like most players, isn't particularly comfortable talking about the business side of baseball. Asked if he'd be OK with the Angels signing Greinke to a larger contract, Weaver simply said: "Whatever they have to do to make our team better."
Over his last seven starts, Greinke is 5-0 with a 1.62 ERA, putting the 28-year-old at 15-5 with a 3.42 ERA on the season.
"He's a past Cy Young Award winner [in 2009], he's got great control, he's got four quality pitches, and he likes to compete," Weaver said. "So, it's not surprising that he came over and he's doing a great job for us."
Yu Darvish, scratched from his Tuesday start for the Rangers due to stiffness in his neck, is slated to start Sunday's game against the Angels, opposite Zack Greinke.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols was honored on the field Wednesday with the Latino MVP Award, receiving a painting, a crystal and a proclamation by Anaheim mayor Tom Tait.
Manager Mike Scioscia has hit Alberto Callaspo in the No. 5 spot of the lineup in five of the last six games. Scioscia admits Callaspo, more of a slap hitter who draws a lot of walks, isn't a prototypical 5-hitter. But with Mark Trumbo's struggles moving him down to the No. 8 spot, the Angels skipper believes Callaspo fits in perfectly, saying: "Right now, with the options that we have, I think Alberto's going to work a tough at-bat and put the ball in play. He's proved throughout the course of his career he can hit with guys in scoring position."
With a crowd of 37,916, the Angels surpassed 3 million fans at Angel Stadium for the 10th straight season, a streak matched only by the Yankees in the American League. WIth one home game left, the Angels have drawn 3,024,303 fans. [21:54:29] lenhochberg: ok
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.