9/4/2013 10:54 P.M. ET
Blanton vows to solve problems of down season
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Joe Blanton's first appearance in two weeks finally came Tuesday night, a 3 1/3-inning stint of mop-up duty that saw him give up a run on three hits and four walks. Blanton also threw his first bullpen session since early August earlier that day.
"I got a little tired toward the end," he said. "I hadn't pitched in the last month, so that stamina has definitely decreased. It was a warm day, too."
Blanton, used to the every-five-day routine of a starting pitcher, doesn't know when he's going to pitch, and thus doesn't even know when to get on a mound to implement the multitude of mechanical adjustments he's working on.
He's currently winding down a season that is easily the toughest of his 10-year career, and one of the worst ever for an Angels pitcher. Although he's slated to make $7.5 million in 2014 -- the club holds a $1 million buyout of his '15 salary -- Blanton also faces the possibility of getting released this winter.
"Honestly, I don't know," Blanton said, asked how he would feel if that were the case. "I've never been in that situation. I've been traded twice, but that's about it. Once I got called up, I've never been sent back down, I've never been released or anything. I don't even know how I would take it, to be honest with you."
Blanton -- signed to a two-year, $15 million contract -- had averaged 10 wins, a 4.37 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP and 178 innings from 2005-12. This year, he says he's in the best physical shape of his career. And in Spring Training, Blanton was almost unhittable, with a 2.37 ERA, no walks and 13 strikeouts in 19 innings.
Then the wheels came off. Blanton struggled mightily in his first three starts, turned it around for a brief period, struggled again, and by the time July 22 came, the 32-year-old right-hander was 2-13 with a 5.66 ERA and out of a job, relegated to his current long-relief role that has him pitching only in blowouts.
Why was the 2013 season such a bad one for Blanton?
There are several theories.
One is the environment he walked into, with fans clamoring for Zack Greinke and disappointed in Blanton being the one obtained on Dec. 12, instead. That, some observers believe, was a severe hit on Blanton's confidence.
"I don't feel like it played a part in me," Blanton refutes. "I'm going to do what I'm going to do. [Greinke]'s an unbelievable pitcher. Nobody is somebody else. If you try to live up to that and try to be somebody else, that's going to be hard to do. So I never really tried to do more than what I was capable of doing."
Others simply point to the fact that Blanton, who has always pitched to contact, is back in the tougher American League, where he hasn't pitched in about five years.
"If he's throwing the ball like he can, he might not have matched some of the numbers that he put up previously in his career, but it certainly wouldn't have been some of the numbers we saw here," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "So, some midpoint. He has the ability to throw the ball better than I think he's shown."
That's Blanton's focus over the four weeks that remain in the season. He's trying to get a more fluid motion toward home plate and consistently get on top of the ball to bring some of his late life back, which he felt he was finally able to see during his rare appearance in Tuesday's 7-1 loss to the Rays.
His role is relatively unimportant, the Angels are out of the playoff picture and Blanton's final numbers are guaranteed to be disappointing. But he hasn't stopped working, maintaining his rigorous daily routine and trying to find some way to make it click again.
"I've been off all year," Blanton said. "There's no doubt about that, no denying it. But there's the want to fix it -- for now and the future, as well. I'm not done this year. It's not my last year."
Angels president pleased with City Council's vote
ANAHEIM -- Tuesday's agreement by the Anaheim City Council to allow the Angels to opt out of their stadium lease as late as 2019, rather than '16, gave both sides additional time to negotiate a complex deal -- one that would drop the "of Anaheim" moniker from the team's name, give owner Arte Moreno developmental rights to the parking lots around the ballpark and extend the team's lease in the city for another four decades.
Angels president John Carpino is confident the two sides can come to an agreement relatively quickly.
"I do," Carpino said prior to Wednesday's game. "I think both sides are confident that a deal can be reached. And when both sides are confident a deal can be reached, deals get made quickly."
With the possibility of the Angels leaving Anaheim, the City Council voted, 4-1 -- Mayor Tom Tait the only one opposed -- to enter formal lease negotiations with the team and extend the Angel Stadium opt-out three years.
The Angels' current lease expires in 2029. Under the proposed deal, as multiple local reports have outlined, the Angels' lease would be extended through at least '36, and possibly as late as '57. In exchange, owner Arte Moreno would be allowed to rent land surrounding the city-owned stadium for $1 per year for at least 66 years.
Carpino said the Angels have invested about $20 million in stadium renovations since Moreno bought the team in 2003. But to stay at Angel Stadium, which opened in 1966 and is the fourth-oldest ballpark in baseball, the Angels would have to make $130 to $150 million in capital investments over the next 20 years under the new deal.
Building a new ballpark, perhaps in the adjacent parking lot, could cost up to $700 million.
"We're pleased with City Council's actions last night, and we feel it is a step in the right direction toward a framework of a deal," Carpino said. "We're hopeful that both parties can come to an agreement and that we are able to give our fans a high-quality experience for many years to come, along with being involved in the Anaheim community."
Langston recalls teammate Abbott 20 years after no-no
ANAHEIM -- Mark Langston can recall a pretty telling Spring Training game. Jim Abbott was up to bat, and the Giants' outfielders played the one-handed-pitching sensation embarrassingly shallow. So Abbott ripped a line drive over their heads, raced around second, slid headfirst into third base, sprung up and boisterously pumped his fists.
"He was a little pissed at where they were playing him and just ran into a pitch," Langston said. "But he is just the ultimate competitor."
Wednesday marked the 20th anniversary of Abbott's no-hitter, which happened on Sept. 4, 1993. He accomplished the inspiring feat with the Yankees, but for six years, including his first four in the Majors, Abbott was a member of the Angels. And for five years, from 1990-92 and then from 95-96, Langston was Abbott's teammate in Anaheim.
Abbott compiled 54 wins and posted a 4.07 ERA in his Angels career. From 1991-92, he and Langston combined for 57 wins.
"He was and is one of my favorite guys on the planet," said Langston, a color analyst for Angels Radio AM 830.
Abbott's Major League debut came at Angel Stadium on April 8, 1989, opposite Langston, then a Mariners starter who delivered a shutout.
"I felt bad for him, almost, on the way up, because there was like 70 people on the field walking with him out to the bullpen -- cameras and reporters," Langston said. "And then coming here and playing with him, for like the first week, you're just mesmerized by what he was capable of doing. And then after the week, it's like you just totally take it for granted. I've never seen anything that he hasn't been able to excel at."
Scioscia wants to see baseball limit September callups
ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia is among those who would like to see Major League Baseball limit the amount of callups teams can make in September.
On Sept. 1, rosters expand from 25 to up to 40 players.
Scioscia, on Commissioner Bud Selig's Special Committee for On-Field Matters, would like to see that number decrease to 30.
"It's just not representative of what a championship roster is for a championship season," Scioscia said of rosters with nearly 40 players. "There's a lot of strategy in when you build a roster. I think a team that has consciously gotten those players that are versatile to help them through a Major League season loses that advantage when a roster can be 40, because the versatility isn't as much of a factor."
• Robert Coello, out since June 9 with shoulder inflammation, is rehabbing with Double-A Arkansas, and the Angels are still unsure if he'll join them before the end of the season. "He'll continue his rehab through the Minor League playoffs and we'll then determine where he is," general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a text message. "He hasn't thrown in game conditions for a couple of months and needs the reps."
• Howie Kendrick ran Wednesday and is "feeling a little better," Scioscia said, but there's still no timetable for the second baseman's return from a sprained left knee. Scioscia said he's still confident Kendrick will return before the end of the month and he isn't undergoing further tests. "Our medical staff pretty much has a grasp on what's going on," Scioscia said, "and sometimes it takes a little time."
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.