05/08/12 1:24 AM ET
Walden, Frieri to close while Downs recovers
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
For Walden, it would mean a return (temporary as it may be) to the role he was supposed to spend the entire season in, if not for the lacking slider command that got him replaced after surrendering a walk-off homer April 26.
"I'd love to," Walden said of returning to a role where he saved 32 games in 42 chances during his first full season last year. "Right now, I feel like I'm at the point where I was all last year. My fastball's coming out well, everything's good -- my slider's good. I'm just waiting for the opportunity again."
For Frieri, getting a chance to close would mean, as he put it, "A dream come true."
The 26-year-old, acquired in exchange for two Minor Leaguers on Thursday, was essentially lost in the Padres' bullpen the past couple of years. But he pitched in a setup role on Sunday -- and now his role should take on even more importance.
"That's my dream," Frieri said. "My dream is to one day be a closer and to save a game in the Major Leagues. I think that's every reliever's dream -- to be a closer. If that does happen, I think I'd be mentally ready for it. I have confidence in myself, no matter who's up there hitting."
Frieri and Walden are both right-handed, but both are different. Frieri, who has hurled two scoreless innings with the Angels and has a 2.28 ERA in 107 career big league appearances, relies on a moving fastball and a deceptive delivery. Walden, who came into a first-and-third, one-out jam in the eighth on Monday and allowed an inherited runner to score, throws a power fastball and follows it up with a slider he believes is much better now.
How will the new ninth-inning dynamic work -- however long it lasts?
"Jordan hasn't been around that long, but there might be some matchups that would make a little bit more sense if he's against a group of hitters," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Ernesto has the fact that not many guys have faced him in our league, which might give him a bit of an advantage coming in. ... Right now, we're going to be looking at a committee to get those last three, four, five outs that we might need."
Hawkins placed on DL; Downs still recovering
MINNEAPOLIS -- It took three pitches.
In that span during Sunday's ninth inning, two Angels relievers went down. First it was lefty Scott Downs, who limped off the field with a bruise in the back of his left knee, sustained while ducking out of the way of a one-out J.P. Arencibia single up the middle. Next it was LaTroy Hawkins, who fractured his right pinkie finger while catching an Omar Vizquel comebacker that resulted in a game-ending double play.
"It's odd that within three pitches you lose two relievers," manager Mike Scioscia said. "It doesn't happen. Unfortunately, it did with us."
As of Monday afternoon, the Angels were still hopeful Downs would avoid having to go on the disabled list.
With Hawkins, not so much. The 39-year-old was placed on the 15-day DL prior to the start of a three-game road series against the Twins, with veteran righty David Pauley -- a sinkerballer who was signed to a Minor League deal in late March -- getting called up from Triple-A to take his place on the roster.
The usual recovery time from a broken pinkie finger is roughly four to six weeks, but Hawkins will be re-evaluated after the two-week period to see where he stands.
Downs, who previously avoided a DL stint after Twins center fielder Denard Span stepped on his right ankle on April 12, was scheduled to fly back from Anaheim and join the team prior to Monday night's game. When he can actually pitch for them again, though, remains to be seen.
"It could be a thing where he comes out tomorrow and he's available," Scioscia said of Downs, the recently installed closer who hasn't allowed a run in 11 appearances. "We don't know. It might take two or three days. I don't think we've really been given any indication yet.
"I think surprisingly he felt better as last night came on, and today, there's just a little discomfort in there. We'll just have to see when it works its way out and he can pitch."
Until Downs is available, the Angels' closer situation will be "a little bit by committee," Scioscia said, with newcomer Ernesto Frieri and former ninth-inning man Jordan Walden getting looks in that spot.
Frieri, acquired last week from the Padres for two Minor Leaguers, has walked the leadoff hitter in both of his appearances but has hurled two scoreless innings and boasts an impressive fastball. Walden racked up 32 saves in his first full season last year, but he was removed from the role after serving up a walk-off homer on April 26.
The Angels' bullpen has statistically been among the worst in baseball this season, posting a 4.68 ERA (ranked 28th in the Majors) and blowing six saves (tied for the most in the American League) entering Monday. That relief corps looked to be taking some steps forward with Downs closing effectively and Frieri impressing early, but it may have taken a major step back during a recent 4-3 win that wrapped up a 5-2 homestand.
All it took was three pitches.
"We're going to have to mix and match," Scioscia said. "Not much has changed from our expectation before the season about our starting pitching getting us to a certain point in the game. And if you combine that with a little more offense, it takes some pressure off our bullpen. I think we'll get it done, we'll be able to hold leads when we get it and we just see how this thing plays out."
Weaver feted for no-hitter with weekly honors
MINNEAPOLIS -- Angels ace Jered Weaver was named American League Player of the Week on Monday, five days after he twirled the first no-hitter of his career against the Twins at Angel Stadium.
Weaver didn't just mow through the Twins' batting order without giving up a hit Wednesday night. He issued just one walk, put two runners on base (the other on a strikeout-passed ball), threw 16 first-pitch strikes, struck out a season-high nine batters and hardly allowed any hard-hit balls.
Weaver needed 121 pitches to nail down the 10th no-hitter in Angels history and the second in baseball this season, joining the perfect game of White Sox righty Philip Humber.
This marked the first time Weaver has been named Player of the Week.
Angels announce Honorary Bat Girl winner
MINNEAPOLIS -- Major League Baseball announced Monday the 30 winners of the 2012 Honorary Bat Girl program, which recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and demonstrated a commitment of "Going to Bat" in the fight against the disease.
The Angels' winner is Judy Watts, a high school English teacher who was diagnosed with advanced Stage 3 breast cancer on Aug. 9, 2010, but is now fully recovered.
The 30 winners, one per club, will be recognized on-field at Major League ballparks on Mother's Day this Sunday -- or an alternative date for away teams, like the Angels. Each winner was selected by a panel that includes players -- one of which was Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick -- and celebrities, in addition to fan votes on HonoraryBatGirl.com.
The Honorary Bat Girls will take part in pregame activities, will be honored during an on-field ceremony and will receive two tickets to the game.
Once again on Mother's Day, hundreds of players are expected to use pink Louisville Slugger bats, stamped with the MLB breast-cancer awareness logo, and all players and on-field personnel will wear the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms. Commemorative dugout lineup cards also will be pink.
Watts, a single mom who also umpires Little League games, went through six months of chemotherapy -- missing only one day of work through all that -- but everything turned up clear when she had her first post-surgery MRI in February.
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.