04/07/12 3:20 AM ET
One rehab start remains for Williams, Richards
By Alden Gonzalez and Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
On Thursday, the two competitors, Garrett Richards and Jerome Williams, each turned in solid Minor League outings.
Richards pitched for Triple-A Salt Lake, giving up two runs on four hits while walking none and striking out seven in seven innings. Williams, on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring to start the season, went five innings, giving up two runs on five hits while striking out four and walking two for Class A Inland Empire.
On Friday, Williams made the drive back to the coast, where he was introduced with his Angels teammates -- in what would be his first Opening Day since 2007 -- and continued to report good health.
"Everything felt really good," Williams said of his 76-pitch outing. "To me, it's just taking it day by day. Just going out there and throwing, get that one more rehab start in and let them make that next decision."
Williams and Richards will make one more rehab start on Tuesday. Then, the Angels will make their decision on their fifth starter for the April 15 game at Yankee Stadium.
The odds would seem to point in Williams' favor, since he's out of options and Richards is only 23.
Morales, Trumbo in Opening Night lineup
ANAHEIM -- One of the recurring questions from winter through spring involved Angels sluggers Albert Pujols, Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo. How would manager Mike Scioscia manage to mix and match and fit all three first basemen by trade into the same lineup?
On Opening Night at Angel Stadium, with Angels ace Jered Weaver taking on Royals southpaw Bruce Chen, here they were on the lineup card: Pujols, batting third, at first; Morales, batting sixth, as designated hitter; Trumbo, seventh in the order, at third base.
Trumbo went 1-for-3 with a run scored, while committing two errors, in the Angels' 5-0 win over the Royals on Friday. Morales went 1-for-3.
Pujols has arrived at great expense with the mission of leading the Angels -- absent from the Fall Classic since 2002 -- to where he twice drove his Cardinals: a World Series celebration.
Morales, fifth in the 2009 American League MVP balloting, is back in the lineup for the first time since badly fracturing his left ankle on May 29, 2010, requiring two surgeries.
Trumbo, second in the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year balloting as the club leader in homers and RBIs, has handled his cram course at third capably enough to earn the Opening Night nod at his new position.
"I always had positive thoughts," Morales said. "I thought that if I worked hard enough I could get back to where I used to be. I don't feel exactly like I did in 2010, but if I keep working every day, I think I can get there."
Trumbo, angular for a third baseman at 6-foot-5, had the anticipated growing pains in his move across the diamond but clearly was smoothing out rough edges as the spring progressed.
He has a strong arm and the lateral quickness for the position. The challenge, as Scioscia put it, is "going to be a confidence level. What you want is a third baseman making routine plays, a step and a half to each side, and, hopefully, Mark will settle in there."
Hitting .328 with six homers, Trumbo crushed balls all spring -- in part, perhaps, because his focus on his new position released some of the pressure the intensely driven athlete tends to put on himself at the plate.
"I think I've made most of the plays," Trumbo said. "I'd like to make a few more, of course, but in the grand scheme of things, I've been over there a month and a half. I expect a lot of myself. Part of it stems from my pitching background and knowing how hard you work as a pitcher to get those outs. When you get a good hitter to roll over on a ball, you want the play to be made."
Morales quickly found his stroke this spring, hitting .367 in 30 at-bats with a pair of homers.
"It's going to be very important to us," Scioscia said, referring to the left-handed balance the switch-hitting Morales brings to a predominantly right-handed lineup.
More formidable from the left side throughout his career, Morales figures to bat fourth against right-handers and sixth against lefties.
"They're putting a lot of confidence in me," Morales said, "putting me up there considering the amount of time I've missed. It kind of pushes me harder."
Scioscia: Opening Day is for players
ANAHEIM -- For Mike Scioscia, a Major League player for 14 seasons embarking on his 13th season as Angels manager, there's no comparison in Opening Day emotions.
"It's all about players," Scioscia said. "The butterflies, the excitement, the anxiety ... all of that is for the players, not the manager. Opening Day is always special for a player.
"For a manager, it's totally different. You're planning, preparing, getting everything in order. Sure, it's a big day, but it's not close to the excitement a player feels on Opening Day."
Aware of an elderly inquisitor's L.A. background, Scioscia made a telling observation comparing a former Dodgers slugger with his manager.
"When you were 7 years old in your backyard," he said, "who did you want to be: Walter Alston or Tommy Davis?"
Scioscia's favorite Opening Day as a player came in 1981, when he guided young Fernando Valenzuela through a gem against the Astros at Dodger Stadium, igniting what would become "Fernandomania."
"Fernando's shutout against the Astros has to be the best Opening Day for me," Scioscia said. "Jerry Reuss was set to go, but he hurt a calf the day before running and Fernando stepped in."
The rest is history, and Scioscia had a large hand in it in his connection with the legendary Mexican lefty.
The Angels are 7-5 in Scioscia's openers, having won seven of the past eight.
Jered Weaver hurled eight shutout innings in his 2012 debut, giving up four hits, walking none and striking out 10 to become just the third Angels pitcher to record double-digit strikeouts on Opening Day. Nolan Ryan did it in 1973 and '75 -- both times against the Royals -- and Andy Messersmith did it in '70.
The Angels have now won eight of their last nine Opening Day games and are 29-23 all time (18-14 at home).
On Friday, Howie Kendrick moved into a tie with Bobby Knoop for most consecutive Opening Day starts by an Angels second baseman, with six. Bobby Grich owns the record with eight total Opening Day starts.
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. Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.