03/11/12 10:00 PM ET
Angels reassign six to Minors camp
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
Angels buzz reflected in spring turnout
TEMPE, Ariz. -- One of many signs this is a different spring at Tempe Diablo Stadium: Indians starter David Huff walked Albert Pujols in the first inning on Sunday, and received a steady stream of boos.The Angels may be weeks away from playing games with any meaning, but players can already sense a different type of buzz at their facility this spring -- the first since Pujols and C.J. Wilson were added to the mix. "I think there's a little bit more electricity going on," staff ace Jered Weaver said. "The Angels have been known to get a lot of fans regardless, but obviously a little bit more this year with the anticipation of Albert and C.J. coming over. We've been in the mix for some free agents in the past, but it hasn't worked out. Obviously we've got two of the top free agents in the market this year, and I think it's giving the Angels fans a little bit more excitement." Last year, the Angels sold out only two home Cactus League games. This year, six games are already sold out -- two of which occurred Friday and Saturday -- and two others could get full, which means the Angels could approach a spring record. Ticket sales in general are up over 30 percent from last year, according to the Angels' marketing department. That means more red shirts, more noise, more vendors, more national-media requests and more restrictions at Tempe Diablo Stadium -- specifically in the parking lots, which now have more fencing. John Dullea, a Tempe Diablo Stadium security guard, said this is the most Angels fans he's seen this early in spring since he started working at the ballpark 14 years ago. "Even the games that aren't sellouts are kind of doubled up," Dullea said. "You can tell it just feels a little different."
Richards working on deception
TEMPE, Ariz. -- They don't scout quite as heavily in Double-A as they do in the Majors.Garrett Richards realized that on Aug. 10 at Yankee Stadium, when upon entering the dugout after the very first inning of his very first big league start, pitching coach Mike Butcher told him he was tipping his pitches. Ever since then, the 23-year-old right-hander has been working to avoid that, with the help of occasional tips from the intuitive Torii Hunter. "I've been pitching one way the whole year," Richards said, "so for somebody to tell you that you're tipping your pitches -- it doesn't really throw you out of your groove, but it's in the back of your mind like, 'I have to tighten that up.'" Tipping your pitches in the Majors can be as subtle as an occasional glove turn, as is the case here, but Richards needs every advantage in his favor to try to win the fifth spot in the Angels' rotation -- a spot he has a better chance at now that favorite Jerome Williams is nursing a hamstring injury. "I don't think it was anything that was going to be picked up that much by the league, because it was a short stint, but it's something that needed to be addressed," manager Mike Scioscia said. "For any young pitcher coming up, there's a tendency sometimes to do some things. I don't think his was outrageous, but you want to try to clean up as much as you can." Richards, the third-ranked Angels prospect, posted a 5.79 ERA in 14 Major League innings in 2011, but went 12-2 with a 3.15 ERA in Double-A. Richards traded a lot of strikeouts for quick groundouts last year, and continued that approach while pitching three scoreless innings in his second Cactus League start on Sunday. With a steady diet of low fastballs and sinkers, Richards issued no walks, scattered three singles and didn't allow a fly ball until the third batter of the third inning. "My strikeouts went down and my ground balls went up last year, and I think that was a credit just to me attacking the zone early in the count and trying to draw contact," Richards said. "Ground balls are kind of my game now, so I'm liking where I'm at."
Trout 'days away' from spring debut
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Premier Angels prospect Mike Trout, who has spent a good portion of camp recovering from an illness, is getting close to appearing in his first Cactus League game."That virus knocked him down pretty good," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said on Sunday. "You want to make sure he gets some strength back, gets some fluids back. He's full-go on the field in drills. He's days away from playing." Trout, who lost up to 10 pounds at one point, said he's feeling better and has been able to put five pounds back on. The 20-year-old, five-tool outfielder is baseball's third-ranked prospect by MLB.com and is trying to force his way onto the big league club -- a goal that may be a bit too lofty considering the Angels' roster construction. Scioscia said Trout will get time at all three outfield spots this spring.
Bobby Wilson, who came out of Saturday's game with a quad injury, called it "just a little strain. Nothing major." The 28-year-old catcher expects to return in a couple of days. Reliever Bobby Cassevah (right shoulder tightness) threw his first bullpen session on Sunday and could get in games by the middle of this week. Through his first week of Cactus League play, Albert Pujols is 6-for-11 with four RBIs, four runs scored, three doubles and three walks while playing in five games in seven days.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.