7/14/2013 4:39 P.M. ET
Angels looking for boost from pitchers in second half
By Bob Sherwin / Special to MLB.com
SEATTLE -- The Angels offense, for all its power, speed and potential, underperformed in the first half that ended Sunday at Safeco Field.
But that's not the team's problem. Manager Mike Scioscia is not worried about the bats.
"Our offense will be fine,'' he said. "I think we'll be able to pressure teams to score runs [in the second half], even with some of our guys who haven't hit their stride. We can still get it done.''
What he worries about, as every manager does, is the starting pitching. An effective, consistent rotation is what every successful team needs. Injuries and inconsistencies robbed the rotation of its effectiveness in the first half.
"We're not going to reach our goal without starting pitching,'' said Scioscia, whose team was 44-48 entering the first-half finale against Seattle. "We're not going to reach our goal without consistency that gives us the chance to win. I think we've proven that. When guys perform the way we expected them to, we've had some good streaks.''
Staff ace Jered Weaver missed at least nine starts in the first half after a fractured right elbow. Jason Vargas started 14 games before a blood clot developed in his left arm and he remains sidelined. Tommy Hanson is on the disabled list with a right forearm strain, but is expected back to fill the fifth starter spot on July 23rd.
"Some guys just are having some problems with consistency. Some guys are pitching really well,'' Scioscia said. "That's why Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas are important to us to get back to the depth that we've had.''
Entering Sunday, the Angels' pitching staff has allowed the fourth-most hits and runs, the fifth-most walks and has the 11th ranked ERA in the American League.
The offense, by contrast, is third in average, fourth in hits, sixth in runs and RBIs, and eighth in home runs.
"The way we need to set up a game, we put a lot of pressure on the offense to say, 'OK, you're going to need to out hit these guys because our pitchers are not performing to their capabilities.' That never happens," Scioscia said. "Our team needs to be set up with that consistent pitching.''
The bullpen ranks ninth in the league in ERA and seventh in saves. But the Angels have blown eight save opportunities.
"The bullpen is evolving,'' Scioscia said. "Hopefully, we can become an 'A' bullpen.''
Hanson threw a 38-pitch simulated game Saturday and is on track to return next week. Vargas is long tossing and is not on the mound yet. Right-hander Ryan Madson (right elbow) and left-hander Sean Burnett (left elbow impingement) are making gains.
"Madson is getting close as he's been to getting in a rehab game,'' Scioscia added. "So that's encouraging.''
Trout gearing up for All-Star Game start
SEATTLE -- After Sunday's game against the Mariners, Mike Trout will take a flight to New York to participate in the All-Star Game at Citi Field. He will start for the AL squad.
Asked if the game and a pair of cross-country flights might not give him the mental or physical break he needs, manager Mike Scioscia said he's not concerned.
"It's exciting to be there,'' he said. "When you walk out of there after being part of an All-Star Game, you definitely walk a little taller. You feel good about your game and know you belong. You carry some confidence with you.
"Physically, he'll be fine. He'll recharge. The travel is not perfect but he'll get enough work. He'll have Wednesday and Thursday off and be ready to go.''
• The first four rotation spots to start the second half are set, but the team won't announce it until Monday. It likely will be in this order: Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Joe Blanton and Jerome Williams.
• No one on the team will benefit more from putting his feet up during the break than Albert Pujols. The Angels DH has been playing through a painful and debilitating plantar fasciitis in his foot.
"I think it's important,'' Scioscia said. "What he's playing through is an issue that's probably growing at this point in the season. He's maintaining it as best he can, but I think it's affecting him more than some people realize.
"So I think four days, he'll get some therapy, definitely treatment and hopefully come back at a level that's at little higher, that he can maintain.''
• The Angels will be thrown quickly into the heat of the race when the second half begins on Friday. Seven of their first 10 games will be against the Oakland A's. Thirteen of their first 20 games are against AL West opponents.
"Obviously, it's a big opportunity … As the season moves on, you're going to have to start taking advantage of when you are matched up head to head because of the [first-half] hole we've dug,'' Scioscia said. "There's not a huge margin of error moving forward, but we're totally capable of reaching our goal. That's what we need to focus on.''
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.