9/18/2013 9:28 P.M. ET
Shuck shines defensively, scores winning run
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- Angels left fielder J.B. Shuck had what he admitted was the defensive game of his life Wednesday. He gunned down Chris Young trying to stretch a single into two bases in the second, he leaped near the wall to snag Young's liner in the fifth and he dove full extension to rob Derek Norris of extra bases in the eighth.
And in the 11th, with the Angels up a run and Ernesto Frieri in for the save, he was removed from the game for a defensive replacement.
"We won the game and that's all I care about," Shuck said after a 5-4 win at O.co Coliseum. "If I stay in or don't, and we win the game, that's all that matters."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia didn't let Shuck's defensive clinic interrupt his year-long game plan, which has him sub in the more adept Collin Cowgill when his team leads in the final inning -- particularly with a fly-ball pitcher like Frieri on the mound.
The bigger point here is that Shuck continues to get better -- when everybody was wondering when the league would figure him out.
He led off the 11th with a double, scored the winning run on Josh Hamilton's sac fly and kept his batting average at .296. The 26-year-old leads all American League rookies in hits (121), runs (56), total bases (153), doubles (20) and multi-hit games (35) -- and sometimes he'll even shine defensively.
"We keep seeing J.B. and it's deep into a long road trip, deep into a long year, and he just keeps playing hard and making plays," Scioscia said.
"I've just tried to stay the same," Shuck said. "I haven't tried to do too much. I think that's helped me not get too high or too low. I've had a lot of guys who have helped me learn what it is to be a big leaguer. This being my first year, I've had a lot of help."
Multi-inning saves no sweat for durable Frieri
OAKLAND -- Ernesto Frieri has become a master of the multi-inning save, whether or not his manager likes it.
The Angels closer has converted seven, including a six-out save against the Astros on Sunday. That easily leads the Majors, with the Cardinals' Edward Mujica second with four and four others -- Koji Uehara of the Red Sox, Sergio Romo of the Giants, Joaquin Benoit of the Tigers and Brett Anderson of the A's -- tied with three entering Wednesday's play.
In those situations, Frieri has given up two runs (one earned) in 11 innings, struck out 19 and walked six.
"I'm still fighting for this opportunity, to solidify myself as the closer," Frieri, who has 34 saves, said in Spanish. "I want to show myself that I can be better than even I think I am. At the same time, it helps me get more confidence from the manager and the pitching coach. Something that allows me to go more than one inning is all the hard work I put in every year. I have a very healthy arm, which I'm very thankful for."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia has often said his preference is to not use Frieri for more than one inning, but he's open to doing it when needed because he knows Frieri's arm can handle the work.
On Sunday, Frieri gave up one hit and struck out four to preserve a one-run game against the Astros. On Sept. 1, he pitched 1 2/3 perfect innings, striking out four of five batters, to maintain a two-run lead at Miller Park. In May, he converted four multi-inning saves -- including two on consecutive days -- in wins over the Astros, A's and White Sox. And on April 14, in a three-run game against Houston, Frieri recorded four outs on strikeouts and gave up one hit.
The 28-year-old right-hander benefited from pitching multiple innings on several occasions with the Padres and has an arm that rarely tires.
But the key is being honest with himself.
"I know when I can and when I can't," said Frieri, who has given up one run in his last 16 2/3 innings and has a 3.68 ERA this year. "My career is very short still. I want to pitch for many years. And to do that, I need to take care of my arm. I know that my arm is very healthy and I work hard to keep it healthy.
"And although they've used me many times for multiple innings, they've also given me the rest I need. That's what's important. I'm very grateful for the way they've used me. I can't ask for a better opportunity than this."
Green won't see game action at third this season
OAKLAND -- Grant Green's exposure to third base at the Major League level will have to wait until at least next season.
Green, facing the team that drafted him four years ago, started at second base for the Angels on Wednesday, but isn't expected to get much more time there now that Howie Kendrick is back from the disabled list. And third base -- a position the Angels wanted Green to get accustomed to with Alberto Callaspo now in Oakland -- is too much of a work in progress for him to see any game action there.
"I don't think it'd be fair just to throw him out there," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "This guy has played virtually no third base; virtually none. He's played very little second base."
Green, the 13th overall pick by the A's in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, spent his first full season in the pros at shortstop, split time between shortstop and center field in 2011, got ample time at five positions in '12 -- center field, left field, shortstop, third base and second base -- and has mostly played second base in '13.
Upon being acquired by the Angels on July 30, Green spent a week in Triple-A working with roving infield instructor Omar Vizquel at third -- a position he's played on only 11 of his 475 career Minor League games. Then Kendrick got hurt and Green came up to play second base regularly, posting a .292/.352/.398 slash line, but playing inconsistent defense.
Green's still working at third sparingly, but Scioscia would like to see the young infielder get more of a grasp on second before focusing on the hot corner.
"There are things that he's moved forward with [at second base], and there are a lot of things that he's still working on improving," Scioscia said. "This guy's working hard. He was out here [Tuesday]; he and [infield coach] Alfredo [Griffin] must've turned a hundred double plays working on stuff. I think that's all part of the process -- getting him comfortable at one position, trying to get him proficient and slowly introducing another position where maybe he's going to show some versatility. But I don't think it's fair to Grant right now."
• Kendrick was not in the starting lineup Wednesday for precautionary reasons, as the Angels continue to ease him back from a sprained left knee. Kendrick had started five straight games, while playing all nine innings for the first time Tuesday, and has hit .333 in that span.
• The Angels could make some changes to the rotation order coming out of Thursday's off-day. For now, Jered Weaver, Jerome Williams and C.J. Wilson are slated to start the three-game series in Seattle. But Scioscia left open the possibility of adjusting some things: "There's some things we're going to look at, but we'll just get through today, evaluate some stuff and just see where they are."
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.