08/02/12 2:44 AM ET
August could be busy month for Angels
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
For the Angels, though, August may be just as busy.
"Busy is as busy does," general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a phone interview Wednesday. "Every day is busy. It's not like when the sun came up this morning I thought, 'All right, now starts the vacation.' We're always working hard. We're navigating right now through a particularly difficult part of our schedule, and I think the team is coming out nicely.
"We're excited about the next couple of months and just continuing to put ourselves in a position to be competitive and hopefully land a spot at the table [the postseason] when it's all said and done."
To do that, the Angels' next step -- perhaps their final touch -- could be to add another bullpen weapon or two.
July saw them take care of the rotation in emphatic fashion, essentially beating out the Rangers to acquire Zack Greinke, the best starting pitcher moved before the Deadline, without having to give up the coveted Peter Bourjos or Garrett Richards.
But it's bullpen arms that the Angels tried hard to get and ultimately didn't add.
Dipoto wouldn't say who they were close to acquiring or what other moves were talked about -- a lot was thrown around -- but a lack of roster flexibility on a bullpen that has been good enough to post a 3.40 ERA on the year definitely played a factor.
But the strained left shoulder of critical lefty Scott Downs, out for an undetermined amount of time, could change things.
"Not at all," Dipoto said. "You're always open to any way that you can get better. Scotty's been terrific for us all year, we don't anticipate this being a long, drawn-out process, but like I said, you never know. And as a result, like I said all along, you remain as flexible as you can be. We'll keep turning over the stones."
Now that the non-waiver Deadline has passed, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by someone, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player.
A lot of players will be placed on waivers, but very few of them actually end up being moved. Still, relievers will be out there to be had.
"There will be opportunity," Dipoto said. "Whether we choose to be involved in taking advantage of that opportunity remains to be seen. Like I said at the start, we like our bullpen.
"Everybody's got a different way of thinking, and I know everybody has their designs on what should be done, but at the end of the day, we feel really comfortable with the group we have down there, and we think they've done a heck of a job."
Trout appreciates comparisons to Henderson
ARLINGTON -- Mike Trout has heard so many gaudy stats and player comparisons during this three-month surge through the big leagues that he's almost numb to it.
Hearing about his ties to Rickey Henderson, though, actually made him pause.
Trout went into Wednesday's game against the Rangers with a .353 batting average, 18 homers and 31 steals. The only other player in Major League history to hit at least .350 with 15 homers and 30 steals before Aug. 1 was Henderson, who batted .352 with 16 homers and 47 steals during the first four months of his 1985 season with the Yankees.
"That's a good feeling, obviously," Trout said, after letting out a big smile when told of the stat. "I just feel comfortable up there. Just to be in the same sentence as Rickey Henderson is a good feeling."
Henderson did that at age 26 -- not 20, like Trout.
And, unlike the Angels' young center fielder, he didn't spend the first three weeks in the Minor Leagues.
Trout, from New Jersey, may have been six years from being born when Henderson lit it up early in his first season in the Bronx. But he's learned a lot about him over the last few months -- you know, since he's compared to him all the time.
"When people start comparing you to people, you definitely start looking him up and see what they're all about," Trout said. "I definitely remember all the stolen bases he had that one year [130 in 1982] and that he hit for power. You really don't see a lot of people hitting home runs and stealing bases, as well. To be in that group with him is awesome."
Angels to bide time in contract talks with Greinke
ARLINGTON -- The Angels would like nothing more than to sign newly acquired starter Zack Greinke to a contract extension, rather than losing him to free agency over the offseason. But as of Wednesday, general manager Jerry Dipoto hadn't tendered any sort of offer to Greinke's agent, Casey Close.
For now, they just want to enjoy what they have.
"For us to think too far ahead at this point would be getting too far ahead of ourselves, rather than just allowing the cart to rest in back of the horse and watch this for a while," Dipoto said. "We feel like Zack's going to make a tremendous impact, and we'll cross the bridge of pending free agency and where we go from there when we reach it."
Dipoto wouldn't specify as to whether they would wait until the offseason to begin those talks, but reports have indicated the Angels were one of Greinke's preferred destinations, along with the Braves and Cardinals.
This offseason, the Angels will have money coming off the books with Bobby Abreu (playing for the Dodgers but still owed $9 million by the Angels this season) and Torii Hunter (making $18 million in 2012) being free agents. They can also free up money by declining the 2013 team options for Dan Haren ($15.5 million) and/or Ervin Santana ($13 million).
Greinke reportedly turned down a five-year contract extension worth in excess of $100 million from the Brewers, meaning he could cost something between the six-year, $112.5 million deal Matt Cain now has with the Giants and the six-year, $144 million extension Cole Hamels signed with the Phillies.
The Angels will face two questions on that front: Will Greinke's price get too high and are they willing to pay another pitcher more than what ace Jered Weaver signed for in August 2011 (five years, $85 million)?
"We'll cross that bridge when we get there," Dipoto continues to say.
Amid slew of injuries, Angels hope Downs' is minor
ARLINGTON -- Shortstop Erick Aybar continues to be on track for a Monday return, reliever Jordan Walden is progressing with his throwing program and starter Dan Haren will throw a bullpen session on Thursday, in preparation for a Sunday start against the White Sox.
But the status of lefty reliever Scott Downs, placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left shoulder on Tuesday, is still up in the air. Downs said he hopes to be out only a couple of weeks, but he isn't quite sure, and a date for him to start throwing again has yet to be determined.
Surgery, at least, can be ruled out.
"I haven't heard it ruled in," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
"[The medical staff is] going to huddle today and kind of get a more definitive idea of what's happening, but I think Downs feels really good at his prognosis. And like I said, right now, talking with [head trainer] Adam [Nevala] and talking with Scott, it seems minor."
Aybar, out since July 21 with a fractured right toe, took ground balls, hit on the field for the first time and continues to feel encouraged. He's tentatively set to be activated for the three-game series against the A's that begins early next week.
"I feel like the way I'm going, if I continue at this rate, I'll be back [in the lineup] very soon," Aybar said in Spanish.
Walden backed up his throwing program to about 130 feet on Wednesday and said he continues to feel no pain in the back of his neck and in his right bicep. But he still needs to extend to full long toss, and after that go on a rehab assignment. It looks like mid-August is most realistic.
Torii Hunter took a Joe Nathan fastball off his left hand in the top of the 10th inning of Wednesday's 11-10 walk-off loss to the Rangers. Asked how he felt postgame, Hunter said: "Not good. It's swollen."
Albert Pujols hit two homers for the second straight game on Wednesday, putting his total for the year at 22. It marked the first time in his career that he has had multihomer efforts in consecutive regular-season games. With 467 career homers, he has sole possession of 31st place on the all-time list.
With four RBIs on Wednesday, Pujols upped his career total to 1,400, making him just the fourth player in history to reach that mark in his first 12 seasons. Joe DiMaggio, Al Simmons and Lou Gehrig were the others.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read 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.