08/12/12 1:20 AM ET
Morales finds groove while Trumbo cools off
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
Morales, struggling to drive the ball in his first year back from a couple of left ankle surgeries, is settling into his first real groove of the season, posting a 1.269 OPS over his last 43 plate appearances. Trumbo, having a stellar season that ultimately made him the Angels' full-time cleanup hitter, is batting .140 with a .229 on-base percentage over his last 11 games.
On Saturday, after an 0-for-4 game in Friday's series opener against the Mariners, Trumbo was given one of those mental days off.
"Overall, the last couple of weeks have been pretty miserable -- competing and putting in all the work, putting in the effort, grinding out at-bats, and not getting anything for it," Trumbo said. "I know last year there were a couple of situations like this where I didn't play and came back and performed very well. You never want to be out of the lineup; you always want to be in there. But maybe for the greater good, sometimes, it's good to take a day away."
You could root Trumbo's slump to July 29, when he hurt his ribs during pregame batting practice and, since then, hasn't looked the same at the plate. Or you can back-date it to the day Mike Scioscia named him his full-time cleanup hitter on July 17. Since then, his batting average has dropped from .309 to .288, with his slugging percentage going from an American League-leading .634 to the current .568 mark.
Trumbo, still leading the team with 29 homers while adding 73 RBIs and a .911 OPS, has watched intensive video of his swing recently and "everything has checked out," he said. He feels he "lost a little feel for the barrel, swung at some pitches I probably shouldn't have," but doesn't believe it's any reason to struggle like he has.
His previous rib-cage issue, Trumbo continues to say, is not an issue.
"There's no excuses," he said. "I'm letting loose, just not getting it done."
But first-year hitting coach Jim Eppard sees recent progress, with Trumbo's swing path and his confidence.
"Even though it might not seem like he's getting better, I see him getting better," said Eppard, who also worked with Trumbo in the Minors. "For me, it's only a matter of time before you start to see it in games."
Morales, at long last, is seeing it in games. It began July 30, when he ditched his batting gloves in a game against the Rangers, then became only the third player in history to homer from both sides of the plate in the same inning.
The 29-year-old switch-hitter is 15-for-40 over his past 10 games, with four doubles and five homers to give him a more respectable .282/.327/.455 slash line.
He still doesn't feel he has the same strength in his base that he did before his injury -- but he believes he's closer than ever.
"There comes a time, after playing every day for a while, where you start recognizing pitches better and get into a better flow," Morales said in Spanish. "I think I'm starting to get there again."
Geltz 'can't stop smiling' about first MLB callup
ANAHEIM -- Steven Geltz, the new member of the Angels' beleaguered bullpen, already found it weird that he had gone four straight games without an appearance for Triple-A Salt Lake. He found it even weirder when Salt Lake Bees manager Keith Johnson called him into his office after Friday's game and told him, "You have to tighten it up."
"What do you mean?" Geltz asked his skipper.
"Well," Johnson told him, "you have to make a good first impression on [Angels manager Mike] Scioscia."
"My jaw dropped and I started crying," Geltz recalled. "I just couldn't believe it. It was just so surreal."
By Saturday, while sitting at his new locker in the Angels' clubhouse after his first big league callup, the emotions still hadn't washed away for the 24-year-old right-hander.
"This is incredible," he said. "I have to remind myself to breathe every now and then. I can't stop smiling. This is a dream come true."
The Angels officially purchased Getz' contract on Saturday, making him the 37th member of their 40-man roster, to take the place of righty David Carpenter, who posted a 4.76 ERA in 28 appearances as mostly a long reliever.
Geltz, signed by the Angels as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Buffalo in 2008, is listed at 5-foot-10, but probably stands about 5-foot-8.
That doesn't mean he can't strike out hitters, though.
He does that a lot, actually. Using mostly a low-90s fastball that boasts plenty of life, coupled with a splitter and slider, he posted a 12.1 strikeout-per-nine-innings rate in his five years in the Angels' system to go along with a 3.51 ERA in 165 appearances.
Geltz -- more of a fly-ball pitcher, which suits Angel Stadium -- torched through Double-A this year, giving up only a run while striking out 37 in 25 1/3 innings, then put up a 3.76 ERA in 19 appearances in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
Angels could sweep awards with Trout, Weaver
ANAHEIM -- When Angels manager Mike Scioscia addressed the media prior to Saturday's game against the Mariners, the vast majority of the questions centered on just two of his players: Jered Weaver and Mike Trout.
That shouldn't come as a surprise.
With that pair, the Angels could have some pretty cool history on their hands.
No team has ever had a Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner the same year -- and near mid-August, the Angels have a good shot.
The 21-year-old Trout is basically a lock to be named the American League's best rookie, after winning Rookie of the Month honors three times in a row, and he is considered an MVP favorite while leading the AL in batting average (.345), stolen bases (36), runs (88), OPS-plus (183) and Wins Above Replacement (7.0).
Everyone knew about his speed.
Few thought he could put it together in the batter's box this quickly.
"Forget the age," Scioscia said, "you don't see many guys any age that can control the zone like he can, that can drive the ball out to any part of the ballpark, turn a ground ball to short into a single, can get a bunt down if needed, can work a count, can do just so many things. He's just a special offensive player right now."
Then there's Weaver, who leads the AL in wins (15), ERA (2.13) and WHIP (0.92) in a season that also saw him throw a no-hitter. He's won each of his past 10 decisions -- spanning 12 starts -- and is the first pitcher since the Brooklyn Dodgers' Don Newcombe (1955) to go 15-1 in his first 20 starts.
A lot can change over the next seven-plus weeks, of course, but right now it seems the biggest competition for Trout and Weaver comes from the Tigers. Third baseman Miguel Cabrera came into Saturday batting .323 with 29 homers and an AL-leading 96 RBIs, while ace Justin Verlander came into his Saturday start 12-7 with a 2.51 ERA, 166 strikeouts and an AL-best six complete games.
Ervin Santana took a couple of steps forward and a couple of steps back on Friday, in manager Mike Scioscia's estimation. He rolled through the first two innings with only 22 pitches, then gave up five runs in a two-homer third inning before retiring 11 of his last 14 batters.
"I think you saw his fastball command was a little bit better," Scioscia said. "Some of his off-speed pitches, his changeup, he left out over the heart of the plate, and that's going to plague him. He got behind some stretches. But when he was going well, you saw him get into zones early, get counts in his favor and put guys away. So, there was a little give and take there, little pluses and minuses. But overall, when you're pitching that deep into the game and giving us a chance to win, that's a plus."
Jordan Walden, recovering from injuries to his neck and right biceps, was roughed up in his first outing for Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday, giving up four runs (two earned) on three hits while recording only two outs in the eighth and ultimately suffering the loss.
Mohamed Ahmed, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputy trainee who was shot in the face by a gang member during a January shootout in East Los Angeles, was invited by the Angels to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Saturday's game. Ahmed, a 27-year-old Somali immigrant, supported his six younger siblings and his mother with his salary.
Mike Trout robbed Miguel Olivo of a home run in the eighth inning of Saturday's 7-4 loss to the Mariners, marking the third time he's taken away a homer this year. According to ESPN, he's the first one to take away three homers in a season since Ichiro Suzuki and Franklin Gutierrez did the same in 2010.
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.