04/22/12 4:23 PM ET
Fan Fest a big hit with fans and players
By AJ Cassavell / Special to MLB.com
Pujols took the stage to applause from many of the 8,500 in attendance for the event, which consisted of autograph-signing booths, a stage where players spoke to the fans and food and games throughout the Angel Stadium parking lot. The event was preceded by the Angels 5k fun run, marking the second consecutive year Fan Fest followed the run.
"I know our fans and even ourselves were expecting a better start than what we have," Pujols said, speaking to the crowd, "but you know what? Six and nine in a long season -- our goal is to try and get into that postseason and if we get there anything can happen."
Much of what Pujols said on Sunday was met with applause from red-clad fans who gathered close to the stage to take pictures and record videos.
Second baseman Howie Kendrick and pitcher Ervin Santana also spoke to the fans, while about a dozen other players manned the various autograph booths.
"The fans are the reason why we do what we do," Kendrick said. "They make it possible for us to play this game at the level that we're at. Any time you can interact or give back to them it's huge."
Rodrigo Tobias of Stanton, Calif., was one of those fans -- waiting first in line for one of the six autograph booths that were set up on the first-base-side parking lot. Tobias woke up at 5 in the morning to make it out to Fan Fest for the second straight year and secure his spot at the front of the line.
"It shows that they respect their fans, and they appreciate them being out here," Tobias said, noting his appreciation for the players who signed autographs at the sixth Fan Fest event.
That appreciation works both ways, Santana said.
"It's fun to let the fans know we know they're coming to the stadium and supporting us," he said. "It's a cool feeling."
Kimberly Edwards of Anaheim Hills is on the board of directors for the Angels' booster club. Like Tobias, she was at the front of the line waiting to find out which player would be placed in her booth.
"It's kind of like Christmas, opening a present," Edwards said. "Who are we in line for, who do we get?"
The booster club was one of about 20 organizations that had an information tent set up at the event. Fans stopped by the tents, ate food and played games like fastest pitch.
Edwards said she always enjoys Fan Fest because she's around people she knows are die-hard fans.
"Well, the Angels have the best fans," she said. "We don't care how good they are or how bad they are, we'll love them."
Angels short on long balls throughout lineup
ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols' home run drought to start the season has been well doccumented.
But for the Angels, it isn't just Pujols who has had trouble putting the ball over the fence.
Entering Sunday's game against Baltimore, the Angels had launched just 10 home runs, the fewest of any American League club.
This comes after the offseason acquisition of Pujols, the former Cardinal with 445 home runs, and the return of Kendrys Morales from a broken ankle that sidelined him in 2011.
"One thing in our offense is certainly home runs have not been part of it," manager Mike Scioscia said. "The power hasn't emerged yet. It will be a big part of what we do."
But for those wanting to place blame for the club's slow start on a lack of home runs, Scioscia said to look elsewhere.
"There's going to be a power element to our team that we maybe haven't seen in a couple years, but that has not emerged yet," Scioscia said. "But, again, I think most of the issues with our club relate more to some of the starts we've had and bullpen issues, as opposed to lack of power."
Vernon Wells leads the club with three home runs, and Chris Iannetta and Mark Trumbo, who has been used sparingly because of a logjam at first and some questions about his defense at third, have two.
Only three other players -- Morales, Peter Bourjos and Howie Kendrick -- have one. Notably absent from that list are the club's Nos. 3-4 hitters, Pujols and Torii Hunter.
Both have hit the ball hard, but haven't been able to get it to carry. Scioscia said he was impressed with the way Hunter has used all fields recently after a poor spring, and he said it's just a matter of time until he starts hitting a few out.
There's no single solution for the Angels power problems, and neither Scioscia nor the Angels seem too concerned this early in the season.
"Sometimes you're just not going to square balls up, your swing isn't quite where it needs to be," Scioscia said. "There's not one overall generalization you're going to make that says anything about where our power will show up. It's all individual."
Pujols takes his first cuts at DH
ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia gave Albert Pujols what he termed "a half day off" on Sunday by slotting his slumping first baseman as the designated hitter for the first time this season.
Because of the off-day Monday before the Angels face Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, Scioscia said he wanted Pujols, who has yet to hit a home run this season, to have a couple days without much strenuous on-field action.
"Just give him a day to get him off his feet," Scioscia said. "We'll be off tomorrow and then get down to Tampa. I think it's something where we want him swinging the bat 162 games."
Entering Sunday's game against the Orioles, Pujols was hitting .262 this season with just four RBIs. He was held hitless in the Angels' first two games against Baltimore.
"You can't lose that focus for nine innings or lose that concentration whether you get base hits or not," Pujols said at Sunday morning's Fanfest outside Angel Stadium. "I take every at-bat and every inning that I play like it's the last game of my career."
Williams to stay on schedule in rotation
ANAHEIM -- After playing games on 12 straight days, Monday's off-day won't affect the Angels' pitching rotation at all, manager Mike Scioscia said before Sunday's game.
When the season began, Scioscia opted to skip No. 5 starter Jerome Williams' first start because of an off-day, but he said it makes more sense now to give his pitchers an extra day of rest than to skip Williams again.
"Jerome pitched very well, and we want to keep him in the flow," Scioscia said.
After a disastrous first start against the Yankees in which Williams didn't make it through the third inning, there was speculation as to whether he had really locked down his rotation spot after Spring Training. He had an abbreviated spring because of a left hamstring injury.
Williams seemed to silence those questions with 6 2/3 solid innings against Baltimore on Friday night, during which he allowed three runs and earned his first win of the year.
But Scioscia noted he was planning to stick with Williams regardless of how he pitched on Friday.
"We have to give, especially Jerome coming off his injury, enough time to get into a groove," Scioscia said. "He pitched well for us last year. He gave us a good start, and hopefully he'll continue to move forward with that. It wasn't a do-or-die start with him where we're waiting to see."
AJ Cassavell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.