03/15/2013 9:02 PM ET
Pujols on track to play first base within the next week
By AJ Cassavell / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Even with all the speculation about when Albert Pujols' knee will be fully healthy and when he'll be able to play in the field, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said the timetable for his star first baseman is relatively clear in his mind.
Pujols, who had offseason knee surgery, should play in the field within the next week, and at the plate, he's just about ready to go -- even though he was only cleared to run the bases on Wednesday.
"I don't think it's guesswork," Scioscia said. "Right now, if we were to start the season tomorrow, in the batter's box he would be ready. He's swung the bat really well. The guesswork is going to come with how much he's going to play defense and how much he's going to DH."
In five games as the designated hitter, Pujols is 6-for-14 with a pair of homers. The biggest reason Pujols has yet to play the field, Scioscia said, is that he doesn't want to overload him in Spring Training when he doesn't have to.
Recently, Pujols has taken grounders during morning workouts, but that's something the Angels can monitor and limit, unlike game situations.
"Right now, he's really just getting into the flow of running or making the turns on the bases," Scioscia said. "I don't think you want to add the variable of playing defense right now."
Frieri working on changeup, will play key bullpen role
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Ernesto Frieri has always been a one-pitch pitcher. As a reliever who rarely -- if ever -- works all the way through the lineup, that has suited him just fine in three solid big league seasons.
But the question around the Angels right-hander has always been: Just how good could he be if he developed a changeup to complement one of the game's better fastballs?
We'll find out soon enough. Frieri is working on a changeup this spring that he feels is just about ready, and he's been working on a cutter, too.
"It's not done -- it's getting there," Frieri said of the changeup after tossing a perfect fifth inning Friday against Seattle. "But I feel comfortable enough to use it in any situation now."
The biggest problem with Frieri's changeup in the past was that he didn't disguise it well enough. He says that issue has been resolved this spring with the help of pitching coach Mike Butcher.
As for the cutter, it's not quite game-ready. With a mid-90s fastball, Frieri says his cutter would have to hover around 90 mph to deceive hitters. He says it's currently clocking at 86.
Frieri is the best bet to start the season as the Angels' de facto closer, even if manager Mike Scioscia doesn't want to label any of his relievers as such. When Ryan Madson returns from injury, Frieri will likely play a pivotal set-up role.
"I'm ready for any situation, like I always say," Fireri said. "I wish that Madson can get ready as soon as possible because that will help us a lot."
Frieri came to the Angels on May 3 last season in a trade with San Diego and didn't allow a run until July 15. He finished the year with a 2.32 ERA and just 35 hits in 66 innings pitched.
"He had a terrific year last year with really just attacking the zone with his fastball and mixing a couple breaking balls," Scioscia said. "If he can create a little bit more depth in his pitches with a little more off-speed, it's going to bring him up to a higher level."
Following injury, Hall's status remains uncertain
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Next to the black baseball bag in front of Bill Hall's locker sat a large blue and white envelope with the letters "MRI" across the front.
Contained inside were the results of his MRI for a strained left calf. But the more pressing question of, "What now?" couldn't be determined by those results alone.
Hall and team orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum were scheduled to discuss just that on Friday morning, and Hall tried to remain optimistic beforehand.
"It always could be worse," Hall said. "Obviously, it's not torn so there won't be any surgery needed. But strained, I don't know how long it's going to take."
The Angels have until March 26 to make a decision on whether to put Hall on the big league roster or pay him a $100,000 bonus to keep him within the organization at a Minor League level.
Those dates prompted Hall to do some quick math.
"Today's the 15th, so I've got 11 days?" he said. "I better heal quick."
Hall signed a Minor League deal with the club in January, marking the seventh team he has played for in the last five seasons.
Trout enjoying first full Major League Spring Training
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Mike Trout has already won a Rookie of the Year Award, a Silver Slugger and finished second in the voting for the American League Most Valuable Player. One thing the Angels outfielder hasn't done yet, however, is partake in a full big league Spring Training.
Last season an illness weakened Trout for much of camp; he dropped weight and couldn't make enough of an impact to crack the Opening Day roster. This year has been the polar opposite. He's healthy and already putting up Mike Trout numbers with his .407/.529/.704 slash line.
"It actually feels good to have a full spring so far," Trout said. "You can be out there, and just get your body underneath you. It's more time to get ready for the season."
Trout came to camp with a target weight of 230 pounds by Opening Day, and he's just about there. He's also had more time to work in both left and center field, as he figures to see time in both positions this season. He said one of his most important focuses is making strong, accurate throws from those two spots.
Manager Mike Scioscia acknowledged that it's nice to have a healthy Trout in spring, but he added that Trout performed extremely well last year without the benefit of camp.
"It's his first spring where he's really been healthy, so it just makes things a little bit easier," Scioscia said. "In the big picture, I don't think it's going to have much of a difference in where he is."
• Scioscia doesn't plan on starting the season with a designated closer. He said he expects righty Ernesto Frieri and lefty Scott Downs to share the duties based on the situation until right-hander Ryan Madson has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery.
• Left-hander Sean Burnett is slated to make his second appearance of the spring Saturday after he signed with the Angels from Washington during the offseason. Burnett struggled in his first outing on Wednesday, but more importantly, he didn't feel any effects from his stiff lower back.
• Even with the off-day, Angels starter Joe Blanton will pitch as scheduled on Monday. Scioscia is unsure of whether the setting will be in a game in Minor League camp or a Triple-A contest against another club.
• The Angels optioned pitchers Michael Kohn, Ryan Brasier and Barry Enright to Triple-A Salt Lake before Friday's game, bringing their current spring roster to 47 players.