07/29/11 7:18 PM ET
Rodney aces short relief
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
"All two-seamers, one changeup -- a ball," Rodney said. "I felt good, free and easy. That's what I'm looking for. It was a good game for me."
Rodney has been spotless in two outings since returning from an upper back strain that cost him five weeks. But he was dealing even before he went on the DL. Over his past nine outings, he has given up one hit for an .048 batting average. Right-handers are hitting .125 against him in 42 at-bats this season.
"That's beautiful," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said when asked if perhaps Rodney needed a more strenuous workout than seven pitches. "We're limiting him to one inning now. If there's a need to expand, we will."
Maybe the Angels aren't in need of relief, as widely reported, after all. Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi have been solid from the left side, and Jordan Walden has the right stuff to be a dominant closer. Rich Thompson and Bobby Cassevah also have been effective in the bridge role, and new arrival Horacio Ramirez offers the luxury of a third lefty.
Angels eager for Weaver-Verlander matchup
DETROIT -- The big Jered Weaver-Justin Verlander duel, an hour past high-noon Central time, is still a few days away, but Angels hitters already sounded enthused about the showdown before Friday night's game against the Tigers at Comerica Park.
"It's like a playoff game when you have pitchers like Verlander and Weaver," said Angels infielder Maicer Izturis, who homered off Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello to lead off Friday night's game. "Every at-bat means something. Verlander likes to attack. He wants to get ahead [in the count], but as a hitter, you don't want that to happen. His stuff is too good to get behind."
Izturis has enjoyed remarkable success against Verlander with a .455 batting average in 22 at-bats. Erick Aybar is batting .429 against the Detroit ace with seven RBIs in 21 at-bats, while Vernon Wells is batting .412 with two doubles in 17 at-bats.
"I love facing those guys, the best in the game," said center fielder Peter Bourjos, who is 1-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored against Verlander in two games. "Just going out and competing against someone like that is what it's all about. That's going to be a really good game to be part of as a player."
Verlander dropped a 1-0 decision to Dan Haren at Angel Stadium on July 5, with Haren delivering a two-hit gem. The run against Verlander was hotly disputed by manager Jim Leyland, leading to his ejection.
Torii Hunter has faced Verlander since they were Central division rivals, Hunter playing for the Twins. Hunter is a .300 hitter in 40 at-bats with a .500 slugging mark against the man with arguably the game's best stuff.
"I've done pretty well against the tough pitchers, the big-game guys," Hunter said. "I like facing hard throwers -- and he can really get it up there. His big curveball is one of the best in the game; that's his big strikeout pitch. He just brought the slider in a year or two ago."
Mark Trumbo, the rookie first baseman, was 1-for-3 against Verlander in Anaheim, but scored the lone run of the game.
"I hadn't seen him before and was trying to feel him out," Trumbo said. "He comes at you, and he gets stronger as the game goes on. If you get behind [in the count], you battle. To me, the slider was more of a strikeout pitch than the curveball."
In 23 starts, Verlander is 14-5 with a 2.34 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 173 innings. Weaver, in 22 starts, is 14-4 with an MLB-best 1.79 ERA, notching 134 strikeouts in 161 innings.
Trade talks muted by 27-12 run?
DETROIT -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia said on Friday that general manager Tony Reagins will keep his cell phone illuminated in the hours leading to Sunday's 1 p.m. PT non-waiver Trade Deadline, but why mess with success?
That's a viable question in light of the Angels' 27-12 run since June 13, the best record in the Majors in that stretch, and the fact that a number of valuable contributors are young players who figure to continue their impressive development in the weeks ahead.
"If Tony finds an opportunity to make us better -- he's calling everybody at this point in the season -- he's not going to hesitate to make a move," Scioscia said. "What's exciting now is there's a core of young guys who have contributed tremendously and given us an opportunity to be competitive in a pennant race. That's only going to make us better for the future."
Which begs the question: Why part with the rising young talent it would require to acquire a proven player such as the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez or the Padres' Heath Bell as a short-term solution? It could turn into a costly three-month rental.
The Angels have dealt nine prospects and two proven players (Casey Kotchman and Joe Saunders) in the past three years for Mark Teixeira, Scott Kazmir, Dan Haren and Alberto Callaspo. Two of those players are no longer with the club.
"That's what GMs all around the league are considering," Scioscia said. "That was a lot of young talent we sacrificed. You don't have a crystal ball. It's something you weigh heavily.
"I like our team. I still feel most of our improvement is going to come in-house."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.