03/05/2013 8:42 PM ET
Angels have basepath plan for Pujols, in a pinch
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels had an interesting plan in place in case Albert Pujols got on base in his spring debut on Tuesday. Manager Mike Scioscia asked permission from his Cincinnati counterpart, Dusty Baker, to use a pinch-runner for Pujols and still allow him back into the game.
That plan didn't wind up taking effect, though, because Pujols struck out and grounded out twice. The three-time Most Valuable Player came out of the box gingerly on each of his groundouts, and he said that he's been able to do some sprinting but that he really hasn't run the bases yet.
"I think they talked to Dusty about where they were going to take me out and put me back in. Dusty was OK with that," said Pujols. "I was fine to do either/or. I told them I was ready to [run], but since I haven't [run] the bases and all that, they wanted to be careful. I think that's something I'm going to do right now. And then tomorrow. And then hopefully in a couple days I won't have to worry about it."
Baker, for his part, got in a great quip when he heard Pujols would be in the lineup.
"You know Albert wouldn't miss us," said Baker of the ex-Cardinal.
Hanson shakes off rust, feels good in debut
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Tommy Hanson threw strikes on Tuesday, just not the kind of strikes he wanted. Hanson, making his first start for the Angels, was up in the strike zone with his fastball for most of his two-inning outing, but he said he was generally pleased with the way he performed.
"That first day is never going to go the way you planned," he said. "I just wanted to get out there, get comfortable being on the mound and facing live hitters. That's the first time I've faced live hitters since last season. It's a little different when you get a hitter in there. My adrenaline was up and all that."
Hanson, acquired from Atlanta in the offseason, needed just eight pitches to get through the first inning against the Reds and 15 more to get through the second. Perhaps most importantly, Hanson said that he felt 100 percent on the mound and stronger than he did at this point of Spring Training last season.
The right-hander threw first-pitch strikes to six of the nine batters he faced, and he only fell behind 2-0 to one batter in his brief outing. That one batter -- Jay Bruce -- turned on a fastball and crushed it over the fence in left-center field for the only run scored against Hanson.
"I think everyone in the stadium knew a fastball was coming right there. And it was up," said Hanson of the home run. "He put a good swing on it. He's a good hitter. Strong dude. He hit it out."
Hanson hit 90 mph on the radar gun on Tuesday, but he declined to comment on his velocity after his start. He did say that he only threw five breaking balls all day and that he wants to work on improving his fastball command in his next outing. Again, cautioned Hanson, it was only his first start.
And on this day, he didn't even have to deal with his greatest challenge. Hanson, as a first-year player in the American League, will have to face a whole host of new hitters this season. It's never too early to start learning, said Hanson, and he'll rely on tips from veteran teammates, like Jered Weaver.
"I've already been in the video room trying to look at some hitters and trying to see what they're doing at the plate in certain situations," he said. "I think once the season starts and being able to talk to the guys -- like Weaver -- who have faced them is going to help. I'm just trying to get a quick look now."
The Angels got their own quick look at Hanson on Tuesday, and manager Mike Scioscia echoed many of the same comments that the 26-year-old said in the aftermath of his outing.
"I thought Tommy was strong," said Scioscia. "The pitches were up a little bit, but I thought the stuff was good. He threw some good sliders. The fastball was elevated a little bit, but he looked strong."
Angels get glimpse of terrific outfield trio
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Josh Hamilton got right back in right field on Tuesday, giving the Angels a look at their projected starting alignment. Hamilton and left fielder Mike Trout flanked Peter Bourjos in center against the Reds, but the outfield defense didn't really come into play much.
Trout, the only one of the three who had a difficult play, looked over one shoulder and then the other before making a running catch at the wall in the third inning. Manager Mike Scioscia said that he read it correctly the entire way, though, before making a difficult play with the fence looming.
"He didn't get turned around. He made a nice play," he said. "Arizona is not an easy place to play the outfield. He knew where that ball was going to show up at some point, and he stayed with it."
Hamilton, who had been plagued by a sore right quadriceps muscle, was playing in the field for just the second time this spring. The five-time All-Star didn't talk to the media after the game, but he spoke briefly in the hours before the Angels' 6-4 win and said he was thrilled to be back on the field.
"My legs feel good. My arm feels good," he said. "It's one of those things where you come in a couple weeks early and take your time with it. There's no rush to get out there right now. As far as getting at-bats, I started doing that about a week ago. Now we'll get in the outfield and get some balls off the bat."
The Angels have an unorthodox outfield alignment in that all three of their outfielders are capable of playing center field, and Scioscia said their talent should help them turn some hits into outs. That applies especially to Trout, who moved to left field in order to keep Bourjos' glove in the lineup.
"There's no doubt there's adjustments to be made," said Scioscia. "I think he's fine on the corners. He played left field at times for us last year. He's still a center fielder, but right now he's playing left field."
• The Angels used a few of their big league relievers on Tuesday. Ernesto Frieri and Kevin Jepsen both threw scoreless innings, and Scott Downs allowed one run in one inning.
• Howie Kendrick homered off Aroldis Chapman in the fourth inning on Tuesday. The Angels' second baseman has two homers this spring and is batting .533 (8-for-15) in his first five games.
• Lefty Brad Mills turned 28 on Tuesday and celebrated with two scoreless innings.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.