3/20/2014 8:32 P.M. ET
Hamilton might slide out of cleanup vs. lefties
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Angels slugger Josh Hamilton could find his way out of the cleanup spot against opposing left-handers this season, at least initially.
That was the case against veteran southpaw Bruce Chen on Thursday, when the right-handed-hitting David Freese moved up to fourth -- behind Albert Pujols -- and the lefty-hitting Hamilton moved down to fifth. Versus lefties, it could be Freese fourth, Hamilton fifth, Howie Kendrick sixth and Raul Ibanez seventh, to break up to the two power left-handed bats.
"We're going to work around the middle at times until we get it settled," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But we definitely want Albert to get his opportunities to hit with guys in scoring position, so you have to set the table in front of him and hopefully have some guys behind him. So we might work that a little bit. We'll see how it goes, though. When Josh is right, there's no doubt that he's going to hit lefties also. But we'll let him get into his game."
Scioscia also had switch-hitting shortstop Erick Aybar leading off and the left-handed-hitting Kole Calhoun batting seventh, but that was simply to get Aybar more plate appearances from the right side of the plate. Calhoun is expected to lead off against righties and lefties.
Hamilton, who went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his third game back from a strained left calf, has a career .993 OPS against righties and a career .772 OPS against lefties.
Freese, meanwhile, has an .843 career OPS against lefties. And Hamilton's dropped to .596 last season, as he struggled to a career-worst .250/.307/.432 slash line. But he batted .329/.392/.518 over his last 45 games, and during that stretch, Hamilton's slash line was a respectable .276/.317/.534 against lefties.
"He got better against everybody," Scioscia said. "I think his at-bats were much improved as the season went on. He's as comfortable in the box right now as he was at any point last year, and that's a great sign."
Angels trade Scioscia's son for Gretzky's son
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Angels have traded Mike Scioscia's son for Wayne Gretzky's son.
Outfield prospect Trevor Gretzky, the son of the greatest hockey player of all time, was dealt Thursday from the Cubs to the Angels in exchange for first-base prospect Matt Scioscia, the son of the Angels' longtime manager and former Dodgers catcher.
"Simply giving two players a new opportunity," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said of the bizarre trade via text.
Gretzky, a 21-year-old left-handed hitter who plays left field and some first base, is a product of Southern California who starred at Oaks Christian High School in Westlake, Calif. He was selected by the Cubs in the seventh round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He batted .304 in 35 games of rookie ball in 2012 and spent the 2013 season at both of the Cubs' Class A affiliates (Boise and Kane), batting .274/.300/.333 in 41 games.
Scioscia, a 25-year-old right-handed hitter who has also spent a little bit of time catching, was drafted by the Angels in the 41st round out of high school in Encino, Calif., in 2007, and then in the 45th round out of the University of Notre Dame in 2011. Scioscia has played in a combined 127 games in his three-year Minor League career, batting .222/.264/.280.
Asked about the trade, Mike Scioscia, who typically shies away from talking about his son publicly, said only: "It's part of baseball; a good opportunity for Matt."
De La Rosa expects to be ready by Opening Day
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Angels reliever Dane De La Rosa hasn't appeared in a game since he strained his right forearm during his second outing of the spring on March 6. But he was cleared to restart his throwing program on Sunday, plans to throw his first bullpen session on Friday and expects to be in regular-season form by Opening Day -- even though that's only 11 days away.
"I've been pitching my whole life," De La Rosa said, smiling. "Why not?"
Short-inning relievers like De La Rosa don't typically need much time to get ready for the season, and De La Rosa could jump back into Spring Training games after one or two bullpen sessions. But the Angels won't rush the 31-year-old right-hander, who's expected to be a key reliever behind closer Ernesto Frieri and their two setup men, Joe Smith and Sean Burnett.
The Angels can backdate their disabled-list stints as far as March 21, so De La Rosa and Burnett -- in the late stages of his return from August forearm surgery -- can be activated as soon as April 5 if they start the season on the DL.
"We're certainly going to err on the side of caution," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "If it takes him an extra five, six, seven days to get him where he needs to be, so be it. I think what you have to guard against is using Opening Day as a guideline for when guys need to be ready."
Kohn feels for pitchers undergoing Tommy John
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Michael Kohn feels so good these days, he often overthrows. The Angels' power reliever is entering his second year post-Tommy John surgery, and some days the ball is flying out of his right hand, so Kohn has to constantly remind himself to calm down, be mindful of his mechanics and "not try to throw the ball a million miles an hour."
Some are nowhere near as lucky.
And this week, the sport has seen an epidemic of pitchers blowing out their ulnar collateral ligament not long after they had it replaced. Braves ace Kris Medlen underwent his second Tommy John surgery in 3 1/2 years on Tuesday. Fellow rotation mate Brandon Beachy is slated to undergo his second in less than two years on Friday. And A's Opening Day starter Jarrod Parker found out on Monday that he would need his second in four years.
"Crazy," Kohn said, shaking his head.
"You read your Twitter and every five things on there it's like, 'This guy's having TJ, this guy's scratched, this guy has stiffness, next thing I know he's having TJ. It's like, 'Whoa, I don't need to pitch today.'"
Kohn, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery on April 12, 2012. During the procedure, Dr. James Andrews replaced the torn ligament in Kohn's right elbow with a tendon from his left hamstring, which is stronger than the more-often-used palmaris. Kohn went on to make 63 appearances in the big leagues in 2013, posting a 3.74 ERA and throwing his fastball at an average speed of 94.2 mph -- a tick higher than where he was before surgery.
Now, he feels even better.
"I'm starting to reap benefits of the great surgery," Kohn said. "Some guys don't reap those benefits; they have to learn to just throw different."
Kohn said he takes the mound without fear that his elbow ligament will snap again because "that's something that's out of your control anyway. Those guys going through it a second time, it's kind of tough; you feel for those guys. You work so hard to get back to your form, and it's not like you get back to your form in a year and you're normal. You're still battling. So going through it a second time is even tougher."
Kohn also doesn't see an immediate way to remedy all the arm injuries.
"Everybody's built differently," he said. "Some guys' tendons are stronger than others', some guys have faster-twitch muscles than other guys who break easily. I don't think that's something we'll ever figure out unless they give a guy a bionic arm."
• Jered Weaver's last start of the spring -- presumably before taking the ball for Opening Day on March 31, though Scioscia hasn't officially announced that yet -- could come in a Minor League game so that the Angels' ace has a controlled environment where he can go a guaranteed seven innings.
• After finding out he's a big fan of the team, the Angels sent Anaheim Ducks right wing Jakob Silfverberg a personalized No. 33 Angels jersey. Silfverberg countered by shipping out a No. 53 Anaheim Ducks jersey for Angels starter Hector Santiago.
• Lefty reliever Brian Moran, who hasn't pitched since March 12 because of inflammation in his elbow, expects to start throwing again at some point in the next couple of days.
• President Barack Obama is slated to speak at the UC Irvine commencement celebration on June 14, which will be held at Angel Stadium while the team is in Atlanta. In February, Obama compared a piece of legislation to the Angels' superstar center fielder by saying the Farm Bill is "like Mike Trout" because of its versatility.
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.