8/20/2013 9:35 P.M. ET
Angels give De La Rosa opportunity to close
By Alden Gonzalez and William Boor / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- During the winter, Dane De La Rosa altered his offseason routine in hopes that 2013 would be different.
Prior to this season, De La Rosa's Major League service time was limited to a couple of brief stints with the Rays, and the 30-year old wanted to finally establish himself as a Major Leaguer.
Not only has De La Rosa proven himself a valuable member of the Angels' bullpen, but he is also going to get a chance to save some games in the final weeks of the season.
"It's actually a little more relaxing for me knowing I'm probably not going to get in until the eighth or ninth," De La Rosa said. "You can say, 'OK this is what you're going to do in the fifth, start getting ready in the sixth and go from there.' You're not caught off guard with, 'Oh, starters are giving up some hits, got to get my mind right to get in the game.'"
Although he only has one save this season, closing is nothing new for De La Rosa. The reliever spent a lot of time closing in the Minors and accumulated 20 saves for Triple-A Durham in 2012.
While closing certainly comes with pressure, De La Rosa embraces it and believes it helps him pitch his best.
"I think it's easier to pitch," De La Rosa said of the final frame. "It's a lot easier to have adrenaline, a little more gas in the tank when it's a close game or you know this is the last inning. When you're down by six and pitching in the fifth, it's a little different than pitching the ninth."
The closer's role opened up a bit when Ernesto Frieri started to struggle, but the fact De La Rosa is getting an opportunity to prove himself is a testament to how far he has come this season
"When he first started pitching, I think he was feeling for it a little bit and he was consistently 91-92 [mph] then, the more he got comfortable, his velocity jumped up to where he's throwing 95-97 now," Chris Iannetta said. "He's becoming more of a complete pitcher as time goes on. He's still working and he still has a lot of work to do to get to where I think he eventually can be, but he's definitely on the right track."
With Trout out, Scioscia works with lineup
ANAHEIM -- Mike Trout once again missed a game because of a tight right hamstring, and Mike Scioscia was once again forced to piece a lineup together.
J.B. Shuck, Erick Aybar, Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo have respectively made up the first four spots of the Angels' batting order in each of the two games Trout has missed. After that is when the Angels' depth really gets tested, with Howie Kendrick still working his way back from a sprained left knee and Albert Pujols shut down for the season with a partial tear of his left plantar fascia.
In Monday's series opener against the Indians, Hank Conger and his .373 career slugging percentage moved up to the No. 5 spot for the first time in his career.
On Tuesday, it was Kole Calhoun and his .330 career slugging percentage debuting there.
"There's some guys that we've had to flip around and put into some spots a little higher than they would be," Scioscia said, one night after a 5-2 loss that saw the Angels get three at-bats with runners in scoring position. "But we have a game tonight, and we have to find a way to score runs."
Scioscia won't start Trout until he proves he can run the bases, and the 22-year-old outfielder wasn't able to do that on Tuesday. Trout, who also missed the June 30 game with a sore right hamstring, said he continues to make progress since exiting Sunday's game in the sixth inning and is hopeful of returning as soon as Wednesday.
Trout sports a .333/.430/.574 slash line and will continue to hold a 40-game on-base streak -- the second-longest in Angels history -- unless he makes a plate appearance on Tuesday.
"It feels a lot better than it was," Trout said. "But it's one of those things that, for me, I don't want to be out there thinking about it. So I'll just give it one more day and see how it goes."
Trumbo chases Angels' home run milestone
ANAHEIM -- The Angels entered Tuesday with 33 games left in their schedule, and Mark Trumbo was already one home run away from reaching 30 again.
No. 29 came in the ninth inning of a game the Angels were on their way to losing on Monday night, a laser to straightaway center field that gave the slugging first baseman a home run in three consecutive games. Trumbo finished that night ranked fourth in the American League in homers. With his next one, he'll be the first Angels player to slug 30 in back-to-back seasons since Vladimir Guerrero from 2004-06, while joining Tim Salmon and Troy Glaus as the only players to do it before turning 28.
But the current state of these Angels -- 14 games below .500, 16 1/2 games out of first place -- makes it difficult to enjoy milestones like that.
"It's tough," the 27-year-old Trumbo said. "But you try to take away as many positives as you can - personally, especially, because the down times do [stink], big time."
Trumbo -- batting .360 over his last six games to raise his batting average to .242 -- easily leads a star-studded Angels team in homers and has consistently produced impressive power numbers since his rookie season, which will only help him in his first year of arbitration this winter.
Since the start of the 2011 season, Trumbo is tied for fourth in the Majors in homers (90), tied for 10th in RBIs (265) and ranks 39th in slugging percentage (.481).
This year, he's on pace for 37 homers.
And if someday he reaches 40, it probably wouldn't surprise anyone.
"That'd be awesome," Trumbo said. "That's a lot, especially the way the trends are going. That's a huge number, I think. I don't know if this ballpark is as conducive to that as others, but if I groove my swing the right way, hopefully it translates here and on the road."
• Asked about the rotation order coming out of the next off-day, Scioscia said he's "going to make some adjustments," but he didn't provide specifics on his plan. Jerome Williams will start on Wednesday, followed by an off-day on Thursday, then a three-game weekend series in Seattle and another off-day on Monday before playing three games at Tampa Bay.
• This offseason, Angels third-base coach Dino Ebel will manage the Estrellas de Oriente of the Dominican Winter League. Ebel did it 10 years ago and said he "had fun."
"They love their baseball down there, which is great," Ebel said. "And the pressure to win -- the players know they have to perform; the coaching staff, manager, they know they have to win. It's good. And it's great for the players."
The season starts Oct. 18.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.