05/01/12 10:51 PM ET
Ideally, Walden eventually returns to closing
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
But the ideal scenario is still for Jordan Walden to work himself back to the closer's role, which gives Angels manager Mike Scioscia the ability to use Downs more freely -- to get tough lefty hitters out late in games, and to serve as an important bridge to the final frame.
"You lose that ability when he's closing," Scioscia said. "That's something you have to look at. Our optimum bullpen would have Scott be able to be that wild card, and be able to come in, whether it was the seventh or eighth inning, and then have arms to get those last outs. It might not get to that, but we'll see."
That'll hinge on Walden, who was temporarily stripped of his closer title after giving up a walk-off homer to the Rays' Brandon Allen on Thursday and is now working on command of his slider.
Walden is available to pitch in games now, but Scioscia would prefer that he get only in low-stress situations for now.
"I fully expect it to be temporary," Scioscia said. "The bottom line is we need arms in the back end of our 'pen holding leads. It has to be more than Scott Downs. Whether Jordan goes back to being closer -- which his stuff plays very well in the closer's role -- or if Scott Downs just takes off and runs with it and becomes a closer and somebody like Jordan Walden becomes a setup, we need depth at the back end of our bullpen."
Hatcher, Pujols get past 'misunderstanding'
ANAHEIM -- Angels first baseman Albert Pujols and hitting coach Mickey Hatcher spoke Tuesday afternoon, one day after the slugger took exception to Hatcher reportedly relaying details about his involvement in a closed-door hitters' meeting, and the two seemed to quickly move past the issue.
Hatcher hesitates to even call it that.
"Albert and me already talked," Hatcher told MLB.com. "We're not going to get into that. It was a misunderstanding with the guy who wrote the article. We talked about it, no big deal, and he does not want me talking to the press because they're blowing everything out of proportion. We're fine, as a team."
On Monday afternoon, Hatcher seemed to pass along a harmless anecdote to a couple of reporters about a pregame meeting, saying Pujols stood up and, in essence, told his teammates he had been through struggles before and they shouldn't worry about him.
Asked postgame in a scrum of reporters about speaking up in that meeting, Pujols responded:
"Mickey should never tell you guys what we talk about in a meeting," Pujols, who was batting .217 and was homerless through his first 92 at-bats, said Monday night. "I think that's something that's private. That needs to stay with the team. No disrespect to Mickey, but this is our ballclub. This is stuff that needs to be private, and that's something that I'm going to tell him. He should never talk to the media about the things that are going on in the meetings. No disrespect to him, but I think that's the way the ballclub should be. Stuff behind doors stays behind doors, not in the media."
Hatcher -- who has come under scrutiny with the offense's struggles -- said he approached Pujols himself the following afternoon, to basically tell him he never provided specific details about the meeting.
"I know that he doesn't want to be talked about," Hatcher said. "I said, 'Hey, there's some stuff in there that was just positive, and that was it.' And we left it at that. And it's not worth talking about."
At that moment, Pujols walked by, and Hatcher quipped, "Right, Albert?" Then the two walked down the stairs and onto the field together. Shortly thereafter, Angels manager Mike Scioscia simply said that "there's nothing to resolve" between the two.
"Albert's fine, Mickey's fine," Scioscia added. "There's no issue."
Slumping Bourjos again not in starting lineup
ANAHEIM -- Peter Bourjos is still 25, is batting only .167, has started just once in the last five games and now has premier prospect Mike Trout playing his position.
The following question is now a relevant one: Is it better for Bourjos to temporarily go down to Triple-A, where he can play regularly and work on whatever it is he needs to offensively?
"If that happens, it happens," Bourjos said prior to Tuesday's game between the Angels and Twins, which saw him ride the bench while Trout played center field and led off. "It's part of the game. I have options, I understand that, and it's a business at the end of the day."
Asked about whether the club is considering such a move, though, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said: "Not right now."
"I think there's a huge role for Peter on our club," Scioscia added. "If it's not playing seven days a week, there's going to be playing time for him here, and he definitely makes our team deeper. We'll see how it progresses. Right now, we want him to fit into our team and hopefully make us stronger."
Bourjos batted .271 with a .327 on-base percentage, 12 homers and 22 stolen bases in his first full season last year. Now, he's part of a lineup that's struggling mightily from top to bottom, with just three hits in his last 31 at-bats, and 14 strikeouts through the season's first month.
If right, Bourjos could provide the Angels with a spark at the bottom of the order, with more speed on the basepaths leading up to Albert Pujols. And even if not starting, he can be valuable as a late-game defensive replacement.
Right now, though, he's fighting to bust out of a slump -- which is hard to do when you're not playing.
"You always want to play," Bourjos said. "You grow up playing the game and you love to play, and obviously we have a great team, so I have to accept the role that I'm in and can't really argue with the lineup they're putting out there. It's a good lineup, and I think it's going to produce over time."
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.