06/24/10 9:40 PM ET
Scioscia praises Torre
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Angels expect Aybar back this weekend
ANAHEIM -- Angels shortstop Erick Aybar is expected to play this weekend against the Rockies at Angel Stadium, avoiding a trip to the 15-day disabled list. His left knee, injured on June 14, made it through an intensive workout on Thursday without any ill effects."I did everything today," said Aybar, who sprinted, did agility drills, took ground balls and went through a round of live batting practice after hitting in the cage. "I feel normal. If it was up to me, I'd play today." It's up to manager Mike Scioscia when and how Aybar is used, and he was optimistic but noncommittal. "I think he'll be available this weekend," Scioscia said. "Whether that's going to take the form of a guy coming off the bench or starting, we'll see. He had a great day today, and he'll run the bases tomorrow. He got a glowing report. He's smiling." Aybar wasn't smiling after the Brewers' Casey McGehee rolled through him on a takeout slide at second base, Aybar's fully-extended legs leaving him exposed as he prepared to take a throw from first baseman Kevin Frandsen. Aybar, hitting .382 in June with 12 hits in his past 27 at-bats, said he was worried that it was serious when it happened. But time, treatment and a pain-killing injection have brought relief. "I'm ready to get back out there," he said.
Jepsen back in top form
ANAHEIM -- Having spent two weeks with pitching coach Mike Butcher ironing out a few kinks in his delivery, Angels setup man Kevin Jepsen was feeling much better about things after getting two big outs in Wednesday night's 2-1 decision over the Dodgers at Angel Stadium."I was feeling fresh, feeling good," Jepsen said, having retired Manny Ramirez on a fly ball and struck out James Loney with a runner aboard to close down the eighth inning in support of Joel Pineiro. "I felt I could throw a strike at any point, pounding the zone. And even my balls were close, which was a good sign." Jepsen, who had a four-day break between appearances, has worked 5 1/3 scoreless innings in his past six outings, striking out 16 hitters in his past 12 2/3 innings. Three bad outings out of 30 -- at Boston, at Chicago (against the White Sox) and at Kansas City -- have inflated his ERA to 4.81. He allowed a total of 10 earned runs in those three games while getting five outs. Against the Dodgers, Jepsen had his fastball in the 95-96 mph range and his cut fastball was coming in where he likes it, at 90-91. Ramirez went the other way with a fastball, while Loney fanned on a cutter. "I'm trying to get to where I'm throwing that fastball down in the zone," Jepsen said. "Ideally, you'd like it on the corners, but getting extension and getting it down, that's the main thing. I'm feeling more like myself."
After getting the final out of Wednesday night's 2-1 Angels victory with a strike to second base to erase the Dodgers' Russell Martin, left fielder Juan Rivera was given Thursday night off against knuckleballer Charlie Haeger. In left, batting eighth for the Angels, was Reggie Willits. The Angels are 5-6 when Willits starts in the outfield, 1-2 when he starts in left. Rivera has come alive in June, in his familiar custom of heating up with the weather. He's batting .279 with a .508 slugging percentage this month compared to .208/.390 in May. ... Hideki Matsui (.333), Howard Kendrick (.322) and Torii Hunter (.316) all have picked it up in June. Hunter's 22 RBIs are second in the American League this month behind the Rangers' Josh Hamilton, with 25, through Wednesday. Kendrick, with 48 RBIs, is surpassed among second baseman in the Majors only by the Yankees' Robinson Cano, with 50. ... The Angels headed into the series finale having won 18 of the past 25 against the Dodgers, outscoring them by 121-69 during the stretch. ... Southpaw Jeff Francis will open for the Rockies on Friday night against Angels ace Jered Weaver, who won't face fellow Long Beach State Dirtbag Troy Tulowitzki. The Colorado shortstop is out for an estimated two months with a fractured left wrist. The former college teammates have never faced each other in a Major League game.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.