02/28/11 2:30 PM EST
Downs brings leadership, versatility
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
"There are a lot of good arms here," said Downs, the former Blue Jays lockdown reliever acquired as a free agent along with fellow left-hander Hisanori Takahashi to bring balance to the Angels' bullpen. "All I've been doing so far is sitting back and watching.
"I've talked to [Kevin] Jepsen, [Jordan] Walden. If they have any questions for me, I'm here. They know what they have to do to be prepared. Myself and Taki, we know what we have to do. We're going to have a lot of fun."
2010 Spring Training - Los Angeles Angels
News & Features
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Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
Downs, a starter in his youth, has abilities beyond the traditional southpaw specialist's role. So does Takahashi, who can stretch out and start if necessary.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia has leaned on veterans such as Scot Shields and Darren Oliver in recent years to provide soothing words and thoughts for talented young relievers trying to find their way.
"There will be stability there from veterans like Scott Downs and Takahashi," Scioscia said. "Darren Oliver has a versatility that's more on the lines of Takahashi. That veteran leadership will be very important."
Downs allowed one hit during a scoreless inning in his Angels debut on Monday against the Athletics, who brought Hideki Matsui along. The Angels' 2010 designated hitter and left fielder renewed acquaintances with old buddies such as Torii Hunter.
Soon, as American League West rivals, Matsui and Downs will resume the competition they experienced in the AL East when Matsui wore Yankees pinstripes and Downs was a Blue Jay.
Abreu settles into designated hitter role
TEMPE, Ariz. -- While the focus on Monday was primarily on Vernon Wells' debut as the Angels' new left fielder, with Peter Bourjos in center and Torii Hunter in right, another transition was getting under way: Bobby Abreu as a designated hitter. He was in the No. 2 spot in the order, between Maicer Izturis and Hunter, in his spring debut as the DH against the A's.
This is something new for Abreu, one of the game's most productive offensive forces for 15 years with a record-tying stretch of 13 consecutive seasons having played at least 150 games.
"We talked about it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said when asked about Abreu's willingness to make the switch. "If we asked Bobby Abreu to catch, he'd say all right. This guy wants to win. He's ready for anything. This guy wants to help us be as good as we can be."
Primarily a right fielder his entire career, from Houston to Philadelphia to New York to Anaheim, Abreu will be the primary DH and a backup corner outfielder, spelling Wells and Hunter. That is based on the assumption Bourjos claims the center-field job with a solid spring.
"Definitely he has to be kept in touch with the outfield," Scioscia said when asked about Abreu's new role. "Bobby's ability to play corner outfield is something we will use to keep Vernon and Torii sharp. Also, if we want a little more of an offensive lineup, we'll have to try out some things."
Scioscia believes the Angels will have a "great" outfield if it's Abreu, Wells and Hunter, left to right, upgrading to "incredible" if it's Wells, Bourjos and Hunter, as anticipated.
Outfielders adjust to new positions
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Left field is all new to Vernon Wells, and right is still relatively new to Torii Hunter. That's 12 Gold Gloves on the corners, with young Peter Bourjos in center ready to absorb all that knowledge from his wing men.
"This is a great opportunity," Bourjos said. "I mean, it's an honor to play along with guys like that, and Bobby Abreu. I just want to get comfortable and do my part."
Wells is following Hunter to a corner spot after spending 12 years in center in Toronto. Wells is embracing the move and is especially looking forward to playing on Angel Stadium's grass surface after all those years on Toronto's carpet.
The center fielder traditionally runs the outfield, but this, as Angels manager Mike Scioscia characterized it, "is a unique situation when you have three center fielders in the same outfield."
Wells, who made his Angels debut in left on Monday against the Athletics, has been occupied in camp getting a feel for how the ball comes off the bat in his new location. Like Hunter, he'll also have corners and ballpark quirks to learn along with hooks and slices as he moves along.
"They know hitters," Scioscia said, referring to Wells and Hunter. "Torii's gotten settled in. Both Vernon and Torii have been in Peter's shoes at some time in their careers. This isn't an ego thing. The center fielder is going to take everything he can reach.
"You want those guys out there a lot [this spring]. To play as a unit is going to take some time."
Middle infielder Jean Segura, one of the Angels' most highly regarded prospects, left Monday's game after a collision with Athletics first baseman Andy LaRoche in the sixth inning at Tempe Diablo Stadium. The club reported that Segura was removed for precautionary reasons. Andrew Romine replaced Segura and banged an RBI double that loomed large when Jason Bulger was summoned to get a one-out save in an 8-7 win. Anthony Ortega also got a final out to close a three-run eighth inning by Oakland. ... One prank apparently warrants another. Following one of their morning pregame clubhouse sessions that tend to leave the players laughing, sometimes hysterically, on their way out to the field, Jered Weaver came to the press box, sat down and had prepared a message for display on the scoreboard during Monday's game: FANS CALL MIKE TROUT WITH YOUR BASEBALL QUESTIONS. Included was Trout's cellphone number. The calls piled up, but Trout insisted the incident was "nothing." He also said that he "deserved it." Teammates such as Peter Bourjos got a laugh out of it at the super prospect's expense. "I told Weav he should have waited until we had a packed crowd with the Cubs here," Bourjos said, grinning. ... After Weaver takes on the Reds' Johnny Cueto on Tuesday, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Scott Kazmir are down to start the following games against the Rangers, Royals and White Sox, respectively.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.