4/7/2014 7:50 P.M. ET
Angels' bench not lacking for experience
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia has a little bit more seasoning off his bench this year, with utility infielder John McDonald (39 years old), corner infielder Ian Stewart (29) and backup outfielder Collin Cowgill (27) combining for 1,645 career Major League games.
Stewart got his first start of the season at third base on Monday, Cowgill replaced Kole Calhoun in right field on Saturday and McDonald also started at the hot corner that day. Their tenure in the big leagues -- particularly McDonald, who has spent 16 years as a backup infielder -- certainly makes them better equipped for spotty playing time.
And their presence on the club increases the Angels' depth, with outfielder J.B. Shuck and infielder Grant Green, among others, currently in the Minors and ready to contribute at any time.
"We have the potential, I think, to add to our bench at times within the organization, which is going to help," Scioscia said. "But I think overall we're deeper with some of the guys, as you can see with Grant Green and J.B. in Triple-A. We're a little deeper in some areas than we were last year, which helps."
Baylor hoping to return to team within six weeks
HOUSTON -- Don Baylor was getting wheeled into the operating room last Tuesday afternoon, about to undergo the five-hour surgery that would repair a broken right femur, and already the Angels' hitting coach was bargaining for a shorter recovery time. He has a follow-up doctor's appointment on Tuesday, and his quest will continue.
"His timeline and my timeline are two different things," Baylor said on a conference call after the Angels' 9-1 win over the Astros on Monday, "but I'm going to listen to the doctor."
The doctor's timeline: Six weeks until Baylor can put weight on his right side, which would allow the 64-year-old to move a little bit more freely and perhaps lead to him being with the team at home.
"I said maybe four."
"But I won't know until the doctor signs off on my rehab and things like that," Baylor cautioned. "I just have to kind of see how that goes. I wish I could give you the date, but I don't know just yet."
Baylor was discharged from UCI Medical Center late Friday afternoon and has been resting comfortably in his home in La Quinta, Calif., ever since, using a walker if he has to get around.
"I'm working on my upper body," Baylor said, laughing.
"I haven't had a lot of pain, really," he added. "A little discomfort maybe last night, but the medication took care of that."
Baylor's injury, common among skiers, was sustained right before Opening Day on March 31, while catching the ceremonial first pitch thrown by Vladimir Guerrero, when Baylor shifted all of his weight to the right side and couldn't get up on his own. He doesn't believe a previous bout with multiple myeloma, a cancer that attacks plasma cells in the bone marrow, was the cause.
"I'm trying to relive it in my mind," Baylor said. "I don't want to watch the replay, that's for sure. I felt like I just got drilled by a Nolan Ryan fastball. Just the impact that it felt when you try to stand up and it won't let you stand up. I've never had a dislocation or anything that hurt on the field like that. So it was pretty much a shock. You can't feel your leg and it's moving all over the place. You think it's a dislocation. I never thought it was a break, but that's what it was. We'll get through it, get through the rehab and get back on the field."
Baylor thanked UCI Medical Center for a "pretty wonderful" experience, called all the outside support -- from Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to former teammate Bobby Grich to Ryan himself -- "uplifting" and said "the Angels fans and family have really been unbelievable."
"I knew I had a lot of friends in baseball," Baylor said, "but I didn't know I had that many."
Adjustment at plate paying off for Hamilton
HOUSTON -- C.J. Wilson said it, and he would know.
"This," Wilson believes, "is the real Josh."
The Angels' starter was referring to Josh Hamilton, the power-hitting outfielder who's starting to look like the five-time All-Star in Texas -- where the two played from 2008-11, until Hamilton joined Wilson again via a five-year, $125 million contract in December 2012.
Hamilton was named the co-American League Player of the Week on Monday -- along with Twins first baseman Chris Colabello -- after an opening week in which he batted .500 and homered twice. Then, during Monday's 9-1 win against the Astros, he drew a career-high-tying three walks, reached base all five times and hit an RBI single, keeping his batting average at .500 (12-for-24).
The key so far, Hamilton said, has been getting back to bouncing around before starting his load.
"It's just rhythm, not staying still," Hamilton explained. "Hitting is rhythm and timing. If one is out of synch, you are going to struggle."
Hamilton didn't do it at all last year, or while struggling in the second half of 2012.
"I completely forgot about it," Hamilton said. "Who knows why you forget about something you've done your whole career. It's something small, but something small can go a long way sometimes."
So can plate discipline and strike-zone awareness.
Hamilton, who finished last year with a .909 OPS in his last 45 games, has drawn six walks through his first seven games. Last year, when he started the season with only one hit in his first 21 at-bats, it took Hamilton 26 games to draw his sixth walk. Monday was his fourth career three-walk game and his first since May 13, 2009.
"Plate discipline is not always going to lead to a walk," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's a function of trying to get better pitches to hit. Josh is not going up there with the idea of taking pitches, and that's what's exciting. You're seeing him ready to hit, he's seeing the ball well, laying off some pitches that are not there, and that shows a comfort level in the batter's box."
Bad timing? Feldman slowed Angels' offense
HOUSTON -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia felt Astros starter Scott Feldman may have been taking a little too long between pitches while throwing seven innings of one-run ball against the Angels on Sunday, though he doesn't believe his pace was ultimately an issue.
"He's certainly more deliberate," Scioscia said. "And the umpires were aware of it. I don't think there was an issue. It seemed like there was a lot of miscommunication with the catcher, and we looked at the catcher and definitely he was shaking a lot of signs off."
Rule 8.04 states that when bases are empty "the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball." Each time the pitcher goes over the allotted time, a ball is supposed to be called.
That rule, however, is rarely enforced. And pitchers are pretty much free to take as long as they'd like with runners on.
"Chris Guccione, the home-plate umpire, he tried to keep it going as best he could," Scioscia said. "I think you're going to have those times. He was working slow, no doubt about it."
The Angels have seen Feldman a lot from his time with the Rangers, from 2005-12, and know he's among the pitchers who usually takes a while. C.J. Wilson, who started Monday's series finale for the Angels, is similar.
Did Feldman's pace affect the Angels hitters in Sunday's 7-4 loss?
"I think if guys let it become a distraction, it could," Scioscia said. "But I don't think it was an issue."
• Dane De La Rosa (right forearm strain) still looks on track to be activated for Friday's game against the Mets, but Scioscia didn't want to commit to that, since De La Rosa still had at least two more rehab outings to make on Monday and Wednesday.
• Raul Ibanez made his first start in left field on Monday. The 41-year-old designated hitter won't come close to matching the 832 1/3 innings he spent in the outfield with the Mariners last year, but Scioscia has said he'd like to get him some time out there periodically.
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.