07/07/11 10:41 PM ET
Ryan, Scioscia weigh in on Williams' passing
By Jordan Garretson / MLB.com
Williams, who served as the then-California Angels' manager from 1974-76, "loved the game and expected it to be played the right way," said former Angel great Nolan Ryan.
"I thought he was a really good baseball man," Ryan said. "He wasn't tough to play for from my perspective. You knew his expectations and if you play the game the way it's supposed to be played, he didn't mess with you. The players who had problems were the ones who didn't work hard enough or didn't give 100 percent when they were out there."
What current Angels manager Mike Scioscia hadn't learned of Williams in person -- Scioscia said he never spent much time around him -- he has heard from plenty of others.
"Talking to guys that have [spent time with Williams], I know I can appreciate his innovation, his attention to details and fundamentals, and his passion for the game," Scioscia said. "Those things resonate with anybody that I've talked to about him."
Front end of bullpen seeks consistency
ANAHEIM -- As good as the back end of the Angels' bullpen has been -- led by Scott Downs and Jordan Walden -- the front end has toiled with inconsistency.
Wednesday's loss against Detroit was another example. Neither Hisanori Takahashi, who was charged with a blown save, nor Michael Kohn, who allowed the go-ahead home run to Miguel Cabrera, was extremely effective in relief of starter Tyler Chatwood.
Then again, Chatwood only lasted 5 1/3 innings -- a rarity for the Angels. The Angels' starters entered Thursday with a combined 573 2/3 innings pitched, or 6 2/3 innings per start, the second-best mark in the American League.
Perhaps the efficiency and stamina of the Halos' starters have functioned as a mask for the club's middle relief?
"Our starters have been going deep," Kohn said. "Downs is throwing the ball incredibly, Walden is throwing the ball incredibly. You just wait for the phone call for your name to be called, then when it's called you go out there and try to put up a zero."
Manager Mike Scioscia isn't exactly working with a full deck of cards in the 'pen right now, either. Neither Fernando Rodney nor Kevin Jepsen is currently available. Rodney has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 13 with an upper back strain. Jepsen has been playing for Triple-A Salt Lake since being optioned on June 13, where Scioscia said he's "trying to find himself." Though he struggled in 16 games this season, posting a 7.62 ERA, Jepsen has proven reliable in the past. The right-hander recorded 27 holds last season, striking out 61 in 59 innings.
Rodney has not been without his struggles either. He blew three of his first five save opportunities before surrendering the closer role to Walden, but came on strong before his injury put him out of action. Rodney limited the opposition to just a .067 batting average in his last eight outings.
The front end has also had some bright spots, namely Rich Thompson. The Australian right-hander struggled in the earlier portion of the season but has found consistency of late, fanning five of the last nine batters he's faced. And fortunately for the Angels, Rodney has started to play catch recently, a good sign that his progress toward returning has improved.
"The rest of the group have all had flashes of brilliance, and we do need some consistency there," Scioscia. "We anticipated having Fernando Rodney and Kevin Jepsen in the mix, and obviously Kevin is working on stuff at Triple-A and Fernando's hurt. There's potential for us to get better in the bullpen. I think we're going to be OK."
Scioscia surprised with Figgins' struggles
ANAHEIM -- Once upon a time, Chone Figgins was a table-setter for the Angels' offense.
The versatile 5-8, 180-pounder played in 140 games or more in four separate seasons while with the Halos from 2002-09, sparking rallies and causing headaches for the opposition. He hit as well as .330 in 2007, and stole as many as 62 bases to lead the Majors in 2005.
Boy, does that seem like a long time ago.
Since being signed by a free agent by the division-rival Mariners prior to the 2010 season, the third baseman has struggled to come anywhere close to that success. Last season, Figgins posted a .259 batting average, his lowest since becoming an everyday player. This year has been even worse, as Figgins entered Thursday hitting just .183 with an on-base percentage of .231.
"I'm very surprised," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Chone is a guy that did some special things for us during his stay here with the Angels. He's really struggled to make the adjustments to bring that same focus, that same production to Seattle."
Things may be getting worse for the 33-year-old Figgins before they get better. On Wednesday Seattle called up another third baseman, the 23-year-old Kyle Seager, from Triple-A. Seager was torching Triple-A pitching through just 12 games, hitting .455 with a .673 slugging percentage.
Seager hit seventh and started at third base on Thursday against the Angels.
"Not to say it won't happen," Scioscia said. "But I'm very surprised that he hasn't played at a higher level, because he still has the skills."
Howard Kendrick entered Thursday's game with a 15-game hitting streak, the longest by an Angel this season. He established a career-best streak of 16 games during the 2006 season.
Mike McCready, the lead guitarist of Pearl Jam, performed the national anthem prior to Thursday's game.
Jordan Garretson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.