9/28/2013 1:50 A.M. ET
Turnaround by pitching staff could help Butcher
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Angels' pitching staff, like the rest of the team, has made a drastic turnaround over these last five weeks, which can only bode well for the future of pitching coach Mike Butcher.
On Aug. 22, the Angels ranked 29th in the Majors with a staff ERA of 4.49.
Since then -- a span that has seen the club reel off 23 wins in 33 games -- the staff boasts a 3.16 mark that ranks fourth in baseball, lowering their ERA for the season to a 21st-ranked 4.21. With the season winding down, and the job security of the Angels' front office and coaching staff perceivably in limbo, that may pay huge dividends for the Angels' seventh-year pitching coach.
"It's funny, I've never coached to cover my [butt] -- never have, never will," said Butcher, who's under contract through at least 2015. "I do my job, and the guys have to go out there and perform at a high level. We started off a little bit rough. And we've been pitching well, especially late. I think a lot of it has to do with just pure health. When you lose a Jered Weaver early in the season, you lose a Tommy Hanson for seven or eight weeks, you lose Jason Vargas for seven or eight weeks. It's the same song and dance, but health has a big way of bringing a staff together."
Butcher's job has been made especially difficult in 2013, with Hanson and Joe Blanton struggling to transition to the American League, Vargas and Weaver missing a combined 18 or so starts with fluky injuries, and Sean Burnett (13 appearances) and Ryan Madson (zero) also missing time. The Angels have used 26 pitchers this year, which is three shy of the club record set in 1999.
"It's not something I even want to talk about," Butcher said of his job security. "I do my job. I love my job, I do my job. I think my track record speaks for itself."
Hamilton drives in two with 1,000th career hit
ARLINGTON -- With a two-run single in the fifth on Friday night, Josh Hamilton notched career hit No. 1,000 in his old stomping grounds.
Down a couple runs with the bases loaded and one out against Rangers starter Alexi Ogando, Hamilton ripped a hard grounder into right field to tie the game at 3 -- four innings before the Angels took a 5-3 loss at Rangers Ballpark.
With that hit, Hamilton is the sixth active player with 1,000 hits and 180 homers in his first 900 career games, joining Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, Todd Helton, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano.
Hamilton -- with 182 homers in 886 career games -- is riding a season-high 12-game hitting streak and is batting .327 in his last 43 games, lifting his slash line to .249/.306/.431 on the season.
Halos might move Trumbo for pitching in offseason
ARLINGTON -- The Angels' offseason pursuit of pitching may come down to one question: How confident are they in the production they'll receive from Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton moving forward?
Or, in other words: How willing are they to part ways with Mark Trumbo?
A few weeks before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Angels went to work on trying to swap offensive pieces in hopes of attaining the cost-controlled starting pitching they need and, as general manager Jerry Dipoto said, "is gold in this game." That work will continue in November, immediately after the World Series and the exclusive negotiating window.
The Angels don't have the payroll flexibility to add a big-time free agent, and they don't have the farm system to blow a team away with a package of prospects. What they do have is a surplus of offense, the type they're willing to part ways with if it gets them the right pitching. Second baseman Howie Kendrick, whose name was all over the rumor mill in July, is in play. So are guys like Erick Aybar, Peter Bourjos, J.B. Shuck and Kole Calhoun, and perhaps others.
But the one who holds the most value and can bring back the best pitcher may be Trumbo, the 27-year-old power hitter who's arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason and has hit 95 homers and totaled 282 RBIs in his first three seasons.
Trumbo, however, is also valuable to the Angels, not only for his middle-of-the-order production but because of the insurance he provides by adequately filling in for Pujols at first base and Hamilton in the outfield corners.
In July, the Pirates, Mariners and Royals were among the teams interested in Trumbo, a source said -- and plenty more should be this winter.
"I think I've been included in trade talks for a while now," said Trumbo, whose name has been thrown around since Pujols was signed in December 2011. "You're always going to spend some time mulling over it. You can say that you don't care about it, but if it's a possibility, then it's a possibility. Maybe when you're a little younger you might get more worked up over something like that. But I'm going on 28 now, I've played for a few years now, and I don't think I'd fear change as much now as I would've when I was younger."
Hamilton gets rare start in center field
ARLINGTON -- On a team with Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos -- when healthy -- there's very little need for Josh Hamilton to ever play center field. But Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he has no problems throwing him out there at any time, particularly in a place as familiar to him as Rangers Ballpark.
"No doubt," Scioscia said. "Yeah, he can play there. He runs great routes, he's running well. And he knows this field, obviously, really well, so he's playing center field tonight."
Hamilton's start at center field on Friday was only his sixth this season, after spending no fewer than 29 games there in his previous five years in Texas. Eighty of his starts have come in right field, 18 have come in left and a career-high 37 have been made as the designated hitter.
Hamilton has told Scioscia he likes the challenge of bouncing around to different spots in the outfield, and the Angels' manager has taken him up on that. Like most outfielders, though, center field is the spot the 32-year-old is most comfortable at because it's so much easier to read the ball off the bat.
"The skill set for center is if you have the speed, which he's got, and you have a good arm and run good routes, center field is a position you'll be much more comfortable at," Scioscia said. "But if you have a guy like Kole Calhoun -- he's going to see the ball better in center, but he doesn't have the closing speed of Josh. And that's going to make him feel more comfortable in the corners."
• J.B. Shuck was out of the starting lineup on Friday, one day after exiting in the fifth inning with a sprained right ankle. Scioscia said the ankle is "a little tender, but hopefully we'll be able to see him at some point in the series -- maybe Sunday." Shuck pinch-hit in the ninth on Friday, grounding out to second base to end the game.
• With Saturday's game time changing from 7:05 p.m. CT to 11:05 a.m. due to threats of heavy rain in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, the Angels sent scheduled starter Garrett Richards back to his hotel room early on Friday night.
• Trout drew two walks on Friday and has now reached base 305 times this season, tying Darin Erstad (2000) for the Angels' club record. On Thursday, he passed Rickey Henderson (301 in 1980) for most times reaching base for a player in his age-21 season or younger.
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.