7/31/2013 3:52 A.M. ET
Shuck shrugs off silent treatment after first HR
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- J.B. Shuck has an interesting way of countering the silent treatment: just congratulate yourself.
When Shuck walked into the dugout in the fifth inning at Rangers Ballpark on Monday night, he was met with indifference from his Angels teammates, who pretended like he hadn't just gone deep for the first time in his career. So instead, Shuck went down the row and handed out imaginary high-fives before finally getting embraced.
"It seemed like everybody was going about their business," Shuck said, "so I just figured I'd get my own high-fives and see what happens."
Shuck's solo homer to right field off Rangers starter Matt Garza was his first in 357 career plate appearances. The left-handed-hitting outfielder became the first American League player to hit his first career home run after 110 or more games (he did it in Game No. 115) since the Angels' very own Alberto Callaspo in 2009, then with the Royals.
But that wasn't the only coincidence that came with it.
Garza was the guy who appeared to serve up Shuck's first career home run on June 5 at Angel Stadium, when the right-hander was still with the Cubs. Shuck hit one over the fence in right field and umpires initially ruled it a homer, but then they went to replay, learned that it had barely gone foul and overturned it.
"Honestly, it's the last thing I ever worry about," the slap-hitting Shuck said of hitting home runs. "It's not a part of my game. If I get one, I get one. If not, I won't lose sleep over it."
Angels active in trade talks before Deadline
ARLINGTON -- Mike Scioscia isn't what you would call tech-savvy. He doesn't have a Facebook account, has never been on Twitter -- "Who's that?" the Angels' skipper joked -- and doesn't necessarily go on the Internet to pore through trade rumors this time of year.
"Isn't there a website, 'Rumors' or something, that guys are telling me about?" Scioscia said in reference to the popular site, MLBTradeRumors.com, an aggregator that has been around since November 2005.
"Yeah. I think we've discovered electricity, too, since I've been in my cave."
Twenty-two hours remained before the non-waiver Trade Deadline when Scioscia held his daily scrum with reporters at Rangers Ballpark. Back in Southern California, general manager Jerry Dipoto was busy working the phones, as a bevy of teams have inundated him with interest over his position players in the past couple of days.
One person familiar with the team's thinking characterized the Angels' chances of making another deal before Wednesday's Trade Deadline -- aside from flipping Scott Downs to the Braves for a Minor League reliever on Monday -- as "better than 50/50."
"Vultures appear to be circling the corpse," he said of an Angels club that entered Tuesday 14 games out of first place and eight games below .500. And then, midway through an eventual 14-11 loss to the Rangers, the Angels shipped third baseman Alberto Callaspo to the A's for Minor League infielder Grant Green.
Howie Kendrick can still be had for the right cost-controlled starting pitcher, but an industry source said late Tuesday night that shortstop Erick Aybar is unlikely to be traded. Whether they can get a deal done for Kendrick now, or simply wait until the offseason, remains to be seen.
But Ian Kennedy has emerged as a possible addition for the Angels.
The Angels have expressed mild interest in acquiring the D-backs' starter for the past couple of weeks, and reports on Tuesday suggested they may be closing in on the 28-year-old right-hander -- with the Padres and Cubs reportedly also in the mix.
Kennedy has had a rough year, going 3-7 with a 5.22 ERA, but the Angels like him in a buy-low deal. As one executive said, "That's when those guys are available." Acquiring Kennedy would likely cost the Angels prospects, with the D-backs looking to make room to add another starting pitcher (they've been linked to the Astros' Bud Norris, who was scratched from his Tuesday start).
Kennedy, who took the mound against the Rays on Tuesday, went 10-12 with a 3.55 ERA in 624 1/3 innings from 2010-12, and Dipoto is familiar with him from his days in the D-backs' front office. He's owed $1.4 million through the remainder of this season and would be under club control through 2015 as an arbitration-eligible player.
"Stuff is still good," one scout in charge of NL West teams said of Kennedy.
As for the Angels' middle infielders? The Cardinals have expressed interest in Aybar, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, and the Royals have been heavily linked to Kendrick as they search for more offense out of second base. Kendrick can block deals to 12 teams in 2013 -- and FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported that the Royals are one of them -- but Aybar can't.
In the meantime, Scioscia will focus on keeping his players focused on the actual game.
"Going through it as a player and going through it as a manager, you just have to absorb it," Scioscia said. "There's not a lot you can tell players other than keep playing and you can control what you can control and that's about it. There's always going to be names circulating. The one thing I try to reinforce with players is just don't believe what you're reading in the papers and don't look at all the rumors."
Angels giving Trout longer look at No. 3 in lineup
ARLINGTON -- When Mike Trout recently spoke on the phone with Albert Pujols, the man he's replacing in the No. 3 spot of the Angels' lineup, the veteran slugger had a clear message.
"He basically told me to be yourself -- just because I'm in the three-hole, don't think I need to do everything," Trout said. "Even when he's not here, he's giving me great advice and leading me the right way. He's been a big help."
The small tear in Pujols' left plantar fascia, which could sideline him for the rest of the season, means Trout will get an extended look in the No. 3 spot in the lineup. Trout had never hit third in the Majors before Saturday and recalled starting only a couple of games there in the Minors.
"It's not a big deal to me, though," Trout said. "I hit third in high school."
What Trout has enjoyed this season is getting more opportunities to drive in runs. While batting mostly second, he's had 126 plate appearances with runners in scoring position heading into Tuesday's game. That was one behind Pujols for the team lead and only nine less than he had while batting leadoff in 2012.
For Scioscia, giving Trout more RBI opportunities is the primary objective -- not necessarily having him bat third. At this point, Trout will most likely bat second again next year -- if Pujols is healthy and Josh Hamilton gets right.
"If Albert is in the lineup and Josh is swinging like he can, when you line up Mike, Albert and Josh, you have a pretty good 2-3-4 right there," Scioscia said. "We're going to have to adjust from that, with Albert not being there and we'll have Mike in the three-hole. There's a lot of different places Mike can hit that really makes sense as you look at the couple of guys in front of him and the couple of guys behind him."
Scioscia receives quick ejection at Texas
ARLINGTON -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia got a relatively quick hook from first-base umpire and crew chief Jerry Layne on Tuesday after coming out to argue a close play at first to start the bottom of the second inning.
Rangers catcher Geovany Soto hit a hard grounder to third base that Alberto Callaspo knocked down, picked up and fired across the diamond. Layne ruled that Soto beat it out, Scioscia jogged from the dugout to protest, and Layne ejected him shortly after arrival.
It was Scioscia's second ejection of the year -- the first was in Kansas City on May 26 -- and the 36th of his 14-year managerial career.
After the Angels' 14-11 walk-off loss in 10 innings, Scioscia said he didn't know why he was ejected so quickly.
• Erick Aybar entered Tuesday with six walks in his previous nine games, which is high for the Angels' switch-hitting shortstop. Over his previous 73 games, Aybar had walked eight times.
• The Angels Baseball Foundation Cooking Challenge, hosted each of the previous four years by Angels Radio AM 830, has been postponed. The event was slated to take place Aug. 7, with Ernesto Frieri, Hank Conger, Michael Kohn, Garrett Richards and Howie Kendrick competing.
• Mike Trout went 4-for-4 with two walks on Tuesday and has reached base in 10 consecutive plate appearances. The club record is 12, set by Bobby Grich in 1984.
• Howie Kendrick collected his 1,000th career hit with a two-run single in the eighth inning, making him just the ninth player in franchise history to reach that milestone.
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.