7/26/2013 11:51 P.M. ET
'Birdman' De La Rosa swoops in to help pigeon
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- Angels reliever Dane De La Rosa -- or "Birdman," as he's been deemed in the last 24 hours -- will tell you he's no hero. Yes, as video that has since gone viral showed, he did corral a wounded pigeon during Thursday's game at O.co Coliseum and safely walk it to the player's parking lot.
But he was just trying to move the game along.
"It just was not trying to fly at all," said De La Rosa, who initially thought it was a rat. "I didn't want to cause a pitching delay in the outfield, so I just grabbed it. It was obviously trying to get somewhere."
De La Rosa's heroic act encompassed the entire Angels-Athletics highlight on ESPN's SportsCenter later that night and has flooded his Twitter account -- @Daner13 -- with more than 300 fans reaching out with questions, retweets and follows.
"Can you believe that?" he said. "My phone won't stop buzzing."
In the bottom of the third, De La Rosa found the pigeon walking underneath the bench in the bullpen, which is wide open and situated down the right-field line. He cupped it in his hands, waited for the frame to end, took it "as far as I can with cleats on," then "made sure to wash my hands and sanitize." And he named it Randy -- but not after Randy Johnson, who famously killed a dove with a fastball in Spring Training of 2001.
"He just looked like a Randy," said De La Rosa, who wound up pitching a scoreless eighth inning in the Angels' 8-3 victory.
Iannetta sliding into platoon with Conger
OAKLAND -- Back in October, Chris Iannetta signed a three-year, $15.55 million extension to be the Angels' everyday catcher. But by the end of Friday, he and Hank Conger -- 25 years old, homegrown and with plenty of upside -- will have split time right down the middle over the past 36 games.
It makes you wonder what Iannetta's long-term future holds with the Angels.
"That's going to take care of itself," Iannetta said. "All those things are out of my control. The only thing I can control is playing well. If I play well, then everything else will take care of itself."
Iannetta will admit he hasn't played well, but he'll point to his production at the plate -- where he's hitting .210 but has posted a .349 on-base percentage thanks to 46 walks -- as the biggest reason he's started only nine of the Angels' 19 games this month.
"If I were still contributing offensively, I'd still be playing," Iannetta said Friday after being held out of the lineup for a second straight day. "Hank's playing great, and he's doing a great offensive job for us right now, and that's what we need. We need that position to help the team out."
But Iannetta's on-base percentage is 41 points higher than that of Conger, who has nonetheless batted .250 and slugged .447 (compared to Iannetta's .338). The 30-year-old's most troubling numbers seem to come on defense. Iannetta has allowed six passed balls (fourth-most among American League catchers), has committed five errors (tied for second-most) and has thrown out six of 65 stolen-base attempts, giving him a .092 caught-stealing percentage that's by far the lowest among qualifiers.
Conger, meanwhile, has thrown out 39 percent (12-for-31).
As Iannetta noted, shutting down a running game "is a three-part play," where the pitcher also has to be quick to the plate and the infielder needs to make a good tag. Asked how he feels his defense has been this season, Iannetta said: "I went through a stretch where I wasn't happy with it for a little bit, but as of late, I've been right where I want to be."
Not good enough to avoid a platoon, though.
"You can look at it two ways -- is Chris losing time or is it Hank gaining time?" Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think Hank has gained more playing time with the level he's played at. Chris has still gotten plenty of playing time, and he will continue to play because we're going to need him."
Bay Bridge issue sends Hamilton to the BART
OAKLAND -- Discovery of a suspicious device forced authorities to temporarily shut down the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on Friday afternoon, which meant Angels players who didn't take the early bus to O.co Coliseum needed to use public transportation.
That included Josh Hamilton, who went unrecognized for the entire half-hour ride.
"People kind of shied away from me," Hamilton said. "I don't know what the deal is."
Hamilton walked downstairs from the Angels' hotel in downtown San Francisco at about 3:30 p.m. PT to catch the team shuttle and found out that was no longer an option. So he and his accountability partner, Shayne Kelley, bought a ticket for the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and hopped on board a crowded train.
Most of his teammates, including starting pitcher Jerome Williams, had caught the early bus.
"It's awesome, man," Hamilton said. "Nobody notices you. It's cool."
Pujols determined to play through foot pain
OAKLAND -- Albert Pujols was hopeful that the four-day All-Star break would ease some of the pain in his left foot, but though he's been hitting well ever since -- 11-for-29 going into Friday -- the plantar fasciitis is no better or no worse.
"It's been the same," Pujols said in Spanish. "I still feel some pain. I still feel it bothering me a bit. That's something that in the offseason, with time and with rest, hopefully the pain can go away."
Pujols has yet to decide whether he'll have the surgical procedure to treat plantar fasciitis, opting to wait until the season ends before making a final determination. What he has basically accepted, though, is that he'll be dealing with the ailment all year, confined mostly to designated hitter -- he's made 65 of his 99 starts there -- and doing the best he can to play through it for the next few months.
Pujols has dealt with spurts of plantar fasciitis dating back to 2003. But it's different now, because it hasn't gone away and because all those years of playing through it have caught up to him.
"That's how it is when you've been playing with something nine years," he said. "That's what the doctor told me. He said, 'Look, you've been nine or 10 years playing with this and it gets worse.' It's like if you have an injury in your arm and you keep throwing. What do you think? It's a long year, and it's going to catch up to you. That's what happens."
• Jason Vargas, recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot near his left armpit area, threw an aggressive, 50-pitch bullpen prior to Friday's game and could be on track to begin a rehab assignment by the end of next week.
• Howie Kendrick got his third day off of the season on Friday but said he's fine, and manager Mike Scioscia said he's just giving the second baseman a break. "He's been playing a lot," Scioscia added. "He'll be back in there tomorrow."
• Infielder Brendan Harris, who was recently designated for assignment by the Angels, signed a Minor League contract with the Yankees and will report to their Triple-A affiliate.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read 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.