04/12/12 12:58 AM ET
Williams facing final hurdle before returning
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
For someone who has overcome as much as Williams -- weight problems, pitching in Taiwan, a stint of independent ball and the perception that his career was finished -- that's nothing.
"I never thought I would be in this situation," said Williams, who started the season on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. "... I had a little setback with my hamstring, but now being part of a good team, competing every day, I'm just trying to do a good job, hopefully opening up in New York and trying to do a good job there. And hopefully show people, 'Hey, I'm back. I'm a good pitcher. I believe I can hang with big league guys again.' Hopefully that turns out good."
Williams got through his final rehab outing just fine on Tuesday, giving up two runs on six hits, walking none, striking out four, throwing 82 pitches and even making several fielding plays in six innings for Class A Inland Empire. Manager Mike Scioscia believes Williams is stretched out enough to make his next start in the big leagues, but wouldn't declare anything definite until after he completes his final workout.
"He looks good," Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said. "His arm's fine and he's ready to go. Happy to have him back."
After posting a 3.68 ERA in 44 innings down the stretch with the Angels last season, Williams came into camp as a heavy favorite for the fifth spot.
A hamstring injury that sidelined him for most of camp, coupled by the presence of standout pitching prospect Garrett Richards -- who has given up just three runs in 13 1/3 Triple-A innings so far -- put that in question. But Williams, who's out of options, showed he's healthy through two Minor League rehab outings and is now lined up to make his first ever appearance at Yankee Stadium.
One problem for the 30-year-old right-hander: The start will be on ESPN, as part of its "Sunday Night Baseball" telecast.
Williams hates pitching on ESPN. He gave up just one run in eight innings while on there against the Mariners on Sept. 7 last season, but still prevalent in his mind is Game 4 of the 2003 National League Division Series against the Marlins, when he gave up three runs and lasted only two innings while pitching for the Giants.
"I had other bad ones, too," Williams said. "I just don't want to remember them."
Minor Leaguer Kohn set for elbow surgery
MINNEAPOLIS -- Angels Triple-A reliever Michael Kohn got the prognosis he was dreading from Dr. James Andrews: season-ending Tommy John surgery.
After having a couple of setbacks with a right forearm strain this spring, the 25-year-old right-hander visited the noted arm surgeon on Wednesday and was told he needed to have the elbow-ligament-replacement procedure.
That procedure will take place at Andrews' facility in Pensacola, Fla., on Thursday. Recovery time is estimated at 12 months.
"Just wanted to say thank you to all the people who sent me their thoughts and prayers," Kohn said via his Twitter account. "I'll come back from this."
Kohn, a 13th-round Draft pick by the Angels in 2008, posted a 2.11 ERA in 24 relief appearances as a rookie in 2010, then struggled to a 7.30 ERA in 14 games in 2011 and wasn't called back up after being optioned to Triple-A in mid-July.
This spring, Kohn hurled five scoreless, one-inning appearances.
Morales: Guillen's comments a 'mistake'
MINNEAPOLIS -- Angels designated hitter Kendrys Morales respects Ozzie Guillen's right to an opinion, and doesn't necessarily agree with the Marlins suspending him over the pro-Fidel Castro comments he made.
But, like the vast majority of Cuban-Americans, Morales takes exception to Guillen's rationale, and believes the Marlins' manager would think differently if he had lived through what he did.
"I forgive him because he doesn't know what that's like over there," Morales, who makes his offseason home in South Florida, said in Spanish on Wednesday. "They're probably comments he's heard, or they've told him, but he can't know how it truly is over there. I'm not in agreement with what he said, but he made a mistake. And I'm sure if he would've lived there, he would've said something else."
Guillen has received a whole lot of criticism in Miami, where a large segment of the population is Cuban-American, for comments he made to Time Magazine about Castro, the communist dictator who has been controlling Cuba since 1959. Guillen, who is now serving a five-game suspension handed down by the club, said in the recently published article, "I love Fidel Castro," adding: "I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [expletive] is still here."
On Tuesday, Guillen flew back to Miami to address the issue via a news conference, where he apologized profusely and said he's "very embarrassed and very sad."
That, apparently, is good enough for Morales, who finally defected from Cuba in the summer of 2004 -- in his 12th attempt.
But he's not sure whether the Cuban community in Miami will ever really move on.
"This is a really tough situation for him," Morales said. "He's trying to make up for what he said, and I think they should give him a chance, because we're human beings. He made a mistake and he's owning up to it. But I'm not sure how they'll handle it.
"I'm not sure what drove him to think like that. But I think if he would've would've lived there, maybe three or four years, that mentality would be different."
Peter Bourjos' inside-the-park homer on Wednesday against the Twins was the first for the Angels since June 17, 2007, when Gary Matthews Jr. hit one against then-Dodgers pitcher Brett Tomko at Angel Stadium. Bourjos' first Major League homer actually came in Target Field, on Aug. 21, 2010, against Kevin Slowey.
Torii Hunter has hit safely in each of his last nine games against the Twins, the team he spent his first 11 seasons with, batting .485 in that span.
The five earned runs allowed by Jered Weaver in Wednesday's 6-5 loss were the most he's been tagged with since Sept. 3, against Minnesota. Entering his most recent outing, Weaver had allowed six earned runs in his previous five starts combined.
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.