04/27/11 11:46 PM ET
Walden adjusting to closer's role
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
When it's not producing late leads to protect, a guy in his position can go days without getting the call. Then he can be summoned four times in a five-day period.
"This past week I didn't throw for four days," Walden said, referring to the duration of a sweep by Boston at Angel Stadium. "Then I got in a game. It's something to adjust to. It feels a little different at first, but once you get an out, you're fine."
Walden has been better than fine. In 10 1/3 innings and 11 appearances, he has yet to surrender an earned run. He has been touched for four hits and is holding the opposition to a .114 batting average. The Texan has 10 strikeouts against five walks.
"It's building up," he said when asked about his fastball, which regularly hit triple digits in his September trial last fall but has been in the 96-99 range thus far. "That was the end of the season, and my arm strength was there. It's still early. My arm strength is building."
Morales gets examined by foot specialist
ANAHEIM -- Having stalled again in his ongoing attempt to rejoin the Angels' lineup following surgery on his lower left leg, Kendrys Morales is being examined by a foot specialist.
"He's getting evaluated today by Dr. [Phil] Kwong," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said before Wednesday's series finale against the Athletics at Angel Stadium. "We'll get an indication as to what we need to do."
Morales' inability to run 100 percent and make the necessary cuts and turns on the bases is keeping him from returning even though he has had no trouble swinging the bat and has been able to field ground balls at first base.
"Some days are better than others," he said with a shrug, the frustration evident in his expression. "I keep trying."
Morales, who played 51 games last year before fracturing his lower left leg on May 29 celebrating a game-winning grand slam, remains on the 15-day disabled list.
Howard Kendrick was back at first base on Wednesday in a new-look lineup with Alexi Amarista at second base, Erick Aybar at shortstop and Alberto Callaspo at third base.
Rookie Mark Trumbo is dealing with his first slump (1-for-17 on the homestand) after handling first base capably for three weeks. He's batting .229 with three homers and nine RBIs in 83 at-bats.
Downs, Pineiro activated from disabled list
ANAHEIM -- Following a 2-1 loss to the Athletics in 10 innings on Wednesday, the Angels made two moves on their pitching staff.
Activated from the 15-day disabled list were starter Joel Pineiro and reliever Scott Downs. Veteran reliever Jason Bulger was designated for assignment, and Matt Palmer was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake.
Pineiro is set to make his first start of the season on Saturday against the Rays in St. Petersburg. Downs will add another left-handed presence to a bullpen that has been one of the Angels' strengths.
"It's a first step to trying to get to where we want to be, an important first step," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Hopefully, in a couple of weeks when Joel gets settled, we're going to look at our staff as being as sound as we thought it would be."
The Angels have 10 days to make a deal for Bulger, waive him or release him. The 32-year-old right-hander figures to have appeal on the market, carrying a 0.96 ERA in five appearances this season. He has allowed six hits and 10 walks while striking out seven hitters in 9 1/3 innings.
Bulger was one of the club's most durable relievers in 2009, going 6-1 with a 3.56 ERA in 64 appearances. He endured shoulder issues last season and was limited to 25 appearances, going 0-0 with a 4.88 ERA.
Palmer is 1-1 with a 5.74 ERA in three starts for the Angels, going 15 2/3 innings. Like Bulger, Palmer was a major contributor in 2009 with his 11-2 record and 3.93 ERA in 40 appearances, but injuries limited him to 14 games and a 1-2 record and 4.54 ERA last season.
During a rehab outing for advanced Class A Inland Empire on Monday, Pineiro showed he was fully recovered from a back injury suffered on March 20 while throwing in a Spring Training camp game. Pineiro said he's "ready to go" and hopes to get deep in the game in his first outing against the Rays.
Downs has made two appearances for the Angels and has not yielded a run. He began the season on the DL with a fractured big left toe and then had a gastrointestinal virus that put him back on the DL.
Speedy Bourjos also supplying muscle
ANAHEIM -- The blazing speed in center field and on the bases was a given. What has been surprising about Peter Bourjos' brilliant start is his ability to drive the ball.
With five doubles, an American League-leading four triples and two homers, Bourjos carried a .556 slugging mark to go with his .321 batting average into Wednesday's series finale against the Athletics.
Bourjos extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an infield single in the third inning on Wednesday.
"I'm feeling good right now," Bourjos said, grinning. "I'm seeing the ball well and getting some good swings. I just want to keep it going."
His two standup triples during an 8-3 decision over the A's on Tuesday night was testimony not only to his speed, but also to his ability to drive balls through the thick marine layer and reach the walls. The first triple was to right center, the second to the left of center.
"I thought the second one would be caught, because I hit it high," Bourjos said. "But maybe the first one helped change their alignment. They might have been shading me a little to right after I hit it over there."
Manager Mike Scioscia, who can't recall seeing a player hit two standup triples in a game, doesn't expect power numbers out of Bourjos. But he did unload six homers during his 51-game rookie run last August and September. That was the equivalent of about 20 for a season.
"He's getting better with understanding his swing, the type of player he can be," Scioscia said. "He put that experience from last year to good use. He's understanding the league, situations. He's playing at a high level right now."
Unfortunately, Chris Bourjos, a scout for the Orioles organization, was unable to keep an eye on his son on his iPad while working in Fresno. "It was blacked out there for some reason," Peter said. "We talked after the game, and he told me he was a little unhappy he didn't get to see the game."
Angels' bullpen a valuable weapon
ANAHEIM -- The cast has gone through some early alterations, but the Angels' bullpen has been lights out since its struggles during the season-opening series in Kansas City with its near-freezing temperatures.
"We've got some good guys down there," Jordan Walden, the closer, said. "We always pull for each other to get the job done."
Over the past 19 games heading into the series finale against the Athletics, the bullpen put together a 1.52 ERA, allowing only 31 hits in 53 1/3 innings while striking out 40 and walking 29 batters.
In the critical department of inherited baserunners, the unit has allowed only four of 23 to score -- a stat sure to make the bullpen popular with the starters.
"That's a huge stat, being able to strand runners," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "They're keeping us in the game, holding leads. The results have been better as the guys have gotten into [the season]. The number of guys we walked in Kansas City was frightening."
In that four-game series, the Angels issued 15 free passes in 18 1/3 innings, allowing 14 runs, 11 earned, for a 5.40 ERA. Scioscia wouldn't use the weather as an excuse, but it's a jolt to any system going from the mild climates of Arizona and Southern California to a Midwestern deep freeze.
Since thawing out in Florida during a two-game sweep of the Rays, the Angels' bullpen has been nails.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.