3/13/2014 4:10 P.M. ET
Blanton finds success creating new mound angles
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Maybe all Joe Blanton needed to do was move to the other end of a 24-inch pitching rubber.
That, at least, was the explanation for his drastic turnaround against the Rangers on Wednesday.
Blanton moved from the first-base side of the rubber to the third-base side while starting for the Angels' split-squad team in Surprise, Ariz., and was brilliant against a Texas lineup that featured up to five regulars (Shin-Soo Choo, Jurickson Profar, Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre and Mitch Moreland).
Five days after giving up seven runs -- on four homers -- in 3 1/3 innings against the Rockies, Blanton tossed five one-hit innings against the Angels' division rivals, striking out five and walking none.
Working from the third-base side, which pitching coach Mike Butcher has been working with him on this week, gives Blanton "a chance to create angles both to lefties and righties, especially with his fastball to be able to get it cross-corner and down, or in, to a lefty," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Also with his breaking ball, whether it's getting it under a lefty's swing or he's trying to create more angle to a righty. He created good angles. They had some good hitters there, and he looked good."
It's only Spring Training, and Blanton, owed $8.5 million on his contract, still seems unlikely to beat out 22-year-old lefty Tyler Skaggs for the fifth spot in the rotation. But any progress out of Blanton, who lost 14 games and posted a 6.04 ERA last season, can only be good for the Angels, who at the very least could find a needy team willing to take on some of his salary in a late Spring Training trade.
The big test will be how he carries that into his next outing, when he starts the Angels' third and final split squad of the spring on Monday.
"His execution was much better yesterday for the fact that he had a little different perspective, which plays to his stuff better," Scioscia said. "It's not a huge adjustment; it's really a simple one. But I think the results yesterday were very visible."
Burnett feeling good after bullpen session
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels reliever Sean Burnett isn't sure what the difference was between his first "official" bullpen session on Thursday and that supposedly fake one he wound up throwing on Sunday.
All he knows is that his left arm felt good throwing off a mound, again.
"Another huge step for me, I guess," Burnett said with a wry smile. "My first official bullpen."
Burnett threw 30 fastballs off the rubber on Thursday morning, just like he did four days earlier, at an estimated 80- to 90-percent intensity. He let it go on his last two, and "my 30th pitch felt as good as the others." It felt, in Burnett's words, "phenomenal."
Burnett still has to work in his offspeed pitches -- which he's been throwing off flat ground -- and estimates he'll need two to three more bullpens before he can progress to a live BP session and then ultimately get in games.
That's a lot of steps to complete in 18 days, which is why Burnett seems likely to start the season on the disabled list. The important thing is he's clearing major hurdles seven months after August forearm surgery.
Simply throwing off a downhill plane is not something his arm was able to stand up to last season.
"The biggest step probably isn't physically; it's more emotionally and mentally," Burnett said. "Last year, I felt so good, and then every time I would get off the mound it would go downhill after a couple of pitches. So it's a big mental step for me, more than physically. Obviously, for the training staff, it's physical, but for the player, it's mental. Today was a big hurdle. I didn't fatigue, like I did [on Sunday]. Hopefully, it progresses, just like my throwing program."
Cron, Lindsey among five prospects cut from camp
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels cut left-handed reliever Robert Carson, first baseman C.J. Cron, catcher Anderson De La Rosa, second baseman Taylor Lindsey and utility man Shawn O'Malley from Major League camp on Thursday, whittling their Spring Training roster to 49 players.
Cron, ranked second among Angels prospects by MLB.com last season, had a solid spring, batting .400 (6-for-15) with a home run and showing improvements defensively, and could come up later in the season to serve as a right-handed platoon at designated hitter.
Lindsey, ranked third, went 1-for-9 in limited time and is expected to start the season at Triple-A Salt Lake, where he'll team with Cron and work specifically on polishing his defense.
De La Rosa never arrived to camp because of visa issues in his native Venezuela.
Angels announce television broadcast schedule
TEMPE, Ariz. -- FOX Sports West will air about 150 Angels games during the regular season, leaving at least 12 others for national television broadcasts.
FOX Saturday Baseball is currently slated to air three Angels games, on May 24 against the Royals, June 14 in Atlanta and July 12 at Rangers Ballpark. Games on April 19 (in Detroit), April 26 (at Yankee Stadium) and June 21 (vs. the Rangers) will air on FOX Sports 1.
ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball will air games on April 27 (at Yankee Stadium), June 1 (in Oakland), June 15 (in Atlanta) and June 22 (at home against the Rangers). Other national broadcasts could be added after the All-Star break.
Victor Rojas, entering his fifth season, will handle the play-by-play for FOX Sports West, and Mark Gubicza, entering his seventh season, will provide color. Angels Live will return for the pre- and postgame shows for all telecasts, with the set once again located underneath the red hats at the Home Plate Gate of Angel Stadium during home games.
Prior to first pitch on Opening Day, March 31 vs. the Mariners, FOX Sports West will air a special one-hour pregame show beginning at 6 p.m. PT.
• Josh Hamilton (strained left calf) is expected to run cuts and take some live batting practice after regular BP on Thursday in order to see some velocity. The Angels, Scioscia said, "are targeting early next week" for Hamilton's first Cactus League action.
• Dane De La Rosa (right forearm strain) is expected to be evaluated by the Angels' medical staff on Thursday to see when he can pick up a baseball.
"He's feeling much better," Scioscia said.
• Scioscia pointed out that it isn't necessary for the backup outfielder to play all three outfield spots, because each of the three starting outfielders -- Hamilton, Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun -- is capable of playing center field. That points favorably to J.B. Shuck, who's really only a left fielder.
• Right-handed reliever Ryan Brasier, who appeared in seven Major League games last season, arrived to camp with tightness in his forearm and elbow and has spent Spring Training rehabbing on the Minor League side. Brasier, 26, is expected to start the season on the disabled list.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and 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.