03/09/11 6:43 PM ET
Lefty newcomers pay off for Angels in 'pen
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi, veterans acquired to provide balance to a bullpen that was tilting heavily to the right, have been in fine early grooves.
Downs, one of the game's premier setup artists in Toronto, is 1-0 and has yielded two hits and no runs in three innings, striking out one hitter. Opponents are batting .182 against him.
Takahashi (1-0) also has worked three innings, giving up three hits and hitting one batter while striking out two. Hitters are batting .214 against the former Yomiuri Giants star who excelled last year for the Mets in his debut Major League season.
Downs, who turns 35 on March 17, signed a three-year, $15 million deal. Takahashi, 36 on April 2, is on board for two years and $8 million.
"These guys are throwing well, looking good," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're excited about the balance and depth they can give us in our bullpen."
Kazmir finds positives in adventurous outing
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Scott Kazmir faced 17 hitters on Wednesday, working from the stretch for all but six. With baserunners everywhere, the Angels' lefty managed to make pitches when he needed them, allowing only one unearned run in three-plus adventurous innings.
"My arm felt great, my body felt great -- I was just rushing a little bit," Kazmir said. "Less is more now. In the second and third innings, I was staying more balanced with my leg kick and finished better. In the first, I felt I was drifting a little bit."
Kazmir has been having trouble carrying strong bullpen sessions into games. Rushing his delivery, he isn't getting the clear path toward home plate he needs. Five hits and four walks were the result in his third spring start, but the good news was that he used his competitive instincts to survive, leaving six runners stranded. The lone run against him resulted from his wild pickoff attempt to second in the first inning after walking the first two hitters, followed by a wild pitch.
"When I stayed balanced, the ball exploded," he said. "I feel I'm this close to making the transfer from the bullpen to the game. Everything is right there."
2010 Spring Training - Los Angeles Angels
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Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
In eight spring innings, Kazmir has yielded 12 hits and five walks but only three earned runs, striking out three. He continues the search for the feel and command that took him to two All-Star Game appearances and an American League strikeout title by the age of 24.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia, looking for consistency from Kazmir, saw some positives in his fifth starter's uneven performance.
"In some ways, Kaz made some steps forward," Scioscia said. "In the third inning, the last 10 pitches, he found something in his delivery. He was in sync, the ball was coming out hotter."
The name's the thing: Make it Kendrys
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Kendry Morales is now Kendrys Morales. It's not a new name; it's one he's always had but didn't clarify until now.
Known as Kendry since signing with the Angels as a Cuban exile in 2004, Morales has let it be known that his given name is actually Kendrys. That is how it appears in the Angels' press guide, and that's what he prefers to be called.
Morales, fifth in the 2009 American League Most Valuable Player balloting, is rebounding from surgery on his lower left leg and hopes to be ready by Opening Day on March 31 in Kansas City. He has been hitting regularly and taking fielding practice but has not yet run full speed.
He fractured the leg on May 29 leaping on home plate after a game-winning grand slam against the Mariners at Angel Stadium.
Jepsen takes to Twitter for charity
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen is involved in a Twitter campaign to fight global poverty. The program, called Twitchange 3.0, supports of CARE USA, a non-profit organization. It started last week and ends on Saturday.
Jepsen, who can be found at www.twitter.com/kevinmjepsen, has used his account to interact with fans. He became aware of programs for charity through a recent effort by Steelers All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu to assist military families. The first such Twitter campaign raised more than $500,000 for Haitian children.
"When I first started doing Twitter, I saw different celebrities and athletes doing things for causes," Jepsen said. "This is my first time, so it's kind of new to me. People make bids on you to follow them or re-tweet. For the highest bidder I think I'll be signing baseballs, hats. I'm just happy I can do something to raise some money. Even if it's $5 -- anything to help."
Other celebrities participating include New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul, actor Channing Tatum, comedian George Lopez, musician Bret Michaels, radio/TV personality Ryan Seacrest and musician Lenny Kravitz. The website is www.twitchange.com. The link to Jepsen's eBay auction is http://bit.ly/fqeYaS.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.