7/19/2013 8:41 P.M. ET
Angels start second half with 'sense of urgency'
By William Boor / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- It's no secret that the Angels' first half was disappointing.
Despite lofty preseason expectations, the Angels begin the second half of play five games under .500 in third place, 11 games out of first, in the American League West.
The 162-game schedule is certainly more of a marathon than a sprint, but time is running out.
"The sense of urgency has to be there every game of the schedule, and maybe it takes playing a team in first place to kind of stoke it a little bit," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said before the club opened a three-game series with the division-leading A's. "We'll see, but we need to start doing things on a consistent basis."
While their current place in the standings does not allow the Angels any room for error, neither does their schedule.
Thirteen of the Angels' next 20 games are against either Oakland or the second-place Texas Rangers.
"Those are the teams in front of us," Albert Pujols said. "Those are the teams we need to beat, one game at a time. I think second half of the season, every game is critical. It's not like there's tomorrow. Before you know it, you're in September."
If the Angels are able to make a second-half push, they will likely be getting strong production from Pujols.
Throughout his career, Pujols has hit .334 -- best among active Major Leaguers and fifth all-time -- in the second half. During 2012, his first season with the Angels, Pujols hit .305 in the second half.
There is no doubt Scioscia hopes to see production from Pujols, but he needs to see it from the rest of his team as well.
"Our challenge is focusing on that process and playing good baseball," Scioscia said. "In stretches this year we have done a good job of it, and then it seems like we get knocked back a little bit."
Pujols' foot is still ailing despite All-Star break
ANAHEIM -- While Albert Pujols enjoyed spending time with his family over the All-Star break, the four days without a baseball game did not offer any significant improvement to his ailing left foot.
"Feels the same," Pujols said. "I feel decent, but I'll see when I play."
Plantar fasciitis caused Pujols to serve as the team's designated hitter for 57 of the 91 games he played in during the first half, and because Pujols' production is so crucial to the Angels' success, his health will be monitored accordingly.
"Albert's naturally a guy that is important to us," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Just like any player, you are always looking for things that might be out of character, as far as how they're moving or some of the time if they are laboring doing things. That doesn't change with any player, and we'll keep our eyes on him the same way."
Despite the injury, Pujols has managed to avoid the disabled list this season and sat out only two games in the first half.
Pujols is determined to be in the lineup and help his team in any way possible for the rest of the season, but offseason surgery is not out of the question.
However, it is not something Pujols wants to think about until the season is over.
"I don't want to talk about that right now," Pujols said. "That's not what's in my mind. We've still got a lot of games left and I don't want to put that distraction in this clubhouse."
What is on Pujols' mind is helping his team win games and finish the season a lot stronger than tit started.
"Obviously success is huge in the second half because when your team needs it the most, you put up some numbers," Pujols said. "But my goal is to get ready every day, have good quality at-bats and help my ballclub out."
Hanson could return on Tuesday
ANAHEIM -- After throwing 59 pitches (35 strikes) in 3 1/3 innings during a Minor League rehab assignment on Thursday, it appears right-hander Tommy Hanson is close to rejoining the Angels' rotation.
"Tommy got his work in, got into the fourth inning," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Actually, his velocity was really good, so that's encouraging. We'll see where he lines up."
While pitching for Class A Inland Empire, Hanson allowed two runs on three hits. He walked one and struck out six.
The Angels do not need a fifth starter until Tuesday's game against the Twins, and although Scioscia would not name Hanson as a starter, he did not rule out the possibility.
"There's no doubt he's a candidate to start on Tuesday, but we've got to look at a couple things," Scioscia said.
If Hanson, who is 4-2 with a 5.10 ERA this season, makes his 10th start of the season on Tuesday, he will likely be doing so with a limited pitch count.
"There's a lot of baseball left and Tommy will certainly get a chance to contribute," Scioscia said. "Hopefully he'll get back into the groove he was in earlier this season when he was throwing the ball well."
• The Angels Wives, along with members from the Anaheim Firefighter's Association, are holding a "Fill the Boot" fundraiser outside the the Angel Stadium gates on Saturday.
The fundraiser, which benefits the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Orange County, will take place from 4 p.m. PT through the second inning of the Angels-A's matchup, with the Angels Wives and Anaheim Firefighter's Association collecting donations.
Whatever funds are raised will be presented to the Muscular Dystrophy Association during a pregame ceremony on July 23.
• Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos played a little bit of catch on Friday and hopes to begin swinging a bat at some point next week.
• Ernesto Frieri celebrated his 28th birthday on Friday.
William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.