4/10/2014 2:51 A.M. ET
Double-A club endures rocky road trip
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- The Double-A Arkansas Travelers are back home now, and that's a good thing.
The road was quite arduous to start the season.
First, there was the bus that broke down, just as they were getting into a 10-hour road trip. Then there was the hotel that lost their reservation, forcing the Angels' prospects to temporarily sleep in a conference room just before the sun came up.
"It was a crazy trip, that's for sure," said Mark Sappington, the Angels' fourth-best prospect, in a phone conversation.
It began with the season-opening, 650-mile trip from North Little Rock, Ark., to Midland, Texas, last Wednesday. About five miles in, the bus driver pulled over at a local Wal-Mart.
"I thought, 'Oh, that's cool, they'll just pull over to see if anybody needs some snacks or a pillow or something for the long trip,'" Sappington said.
They actually thought there was a flat tire, but there wasn't. So they kept going. And about 90 minutes later, they pulled over and told the players they'd have to transfer all their stuff and squeeze into the second bus, which was about five miles ahead and had to turn around.
"It was a lot of fun," Sappington said. "Either you make it fun or you don't. I'm just thankful to have a bus that works."
Three days later, in the middle of the night, the Travelers drove 5 1/2 hours from Midland to Frisco. When they arrived in North Texas, at 4:30 a.m., their hotel did not have their reservation. And because the Final Four was going on in the area, there was no availability anywhere.
"It's comical at this point," Sappington said. "It's not like guys are mad. You're just looking at each other and just laughing, like, 'No way.'"
So they figured they'd get resourceful, cramming into a vacant conference room in hopes of getting some sleep, until manager Phillip Wellman got word that a nearby Embassy Suites miraculously had 23 rooms available for them.
They slept from about 6 to 11, were blessed with a rainout that Sunday, played a doubleheader Monday, finished the road trip 4-2 and finally returned home late Wednesday night.
Ah, the Minors.
"I think we made the best of it," Sappington said. "It's probably not exactly what you want, though. For that first week, you're kind of like, 'Holy [heck], what's going on?'"
Shuck recalled, puts demotion behind him
SEATTLE -- J.B. Shuck had done everything he could. He contributed a solid season as basically an everyday player in 2013, batting .293 while leading American League rookies in plate appearances (478), then put together a solid Spring Training.
And that still wasn't enough to land a spot on the Angels' bench to start the season.
"It was tough," Shuck said from Safeco Field on Wednesday, shortly after being recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake, with Josh Hamilton set for surgery on his left thumb.
"Of course I wanted to be here. It was tough, but after a day or two, I got it in my head that I can't let it affect me or what I have to do."
Shuck -- beat out by the more versatile, right-handed-hitting Collin Cowgill for the backup outfield spot a couple of weeks ago -- batted .375 (9-for-24) with five runs scored and a home run in a five-game stint in the Pacific Coast League.
"I just tried not to think about it," the scrappy left-handed hitter said of his March 29 demotion. "I knew I had to go down there and do what I had to do to make sure I didn't have a bad attitude about it."
Over the next two months, as Hamilton recovers from a procedure that carries an estimated timeline of six to eight weeks, Shuck figures to get playing time while likely platooning in left field with Cowgill.
"Unfortunately, this is a terrible thing," Shuck said of Hamilton's injury. "He's a great guy and a great player. You hate to see something like this happen. You hope he recovers well and gets back to doing what he was doing."
Aybar sits out after pregame dental work
SEATTLE -- Angels shortstop Erick Aybar was a late scratch from Wednesday's lineup due to some pregame dental work, according to the team. John McDonald took his place, batting ninth.
Aybar is expected to be back for the next game on Friday, the start of a three-game series against the Mets, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after a 2-0 victory over the Mariners.
The 30-year-old switch-hitter has started the season 5-for-28, with two walks and five strikeouts.
• Wednesday marked the five-year anniversary of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart being killed by a drunk driver at age 22, hours after pitching six shutout innings in his 2009 debut. Courtney Stewart, 20, and Henry Pearson, 25, also were killed. A fourth passenger, Jon Wilhite, sustained critical injuries.
• Angels reliever Dane De La Rosa (right forearm strain) had his rehab switched from Double-A Arkansas to Class A Inland Empire so that he could appear in a game Wednesday, setting him up to be activated for Friday's series opener against the Mets. De La Rosa struck out one in his third straight shutout inning.
• Albert Pujols hit a third-inning home run off Mariners starter Roenis Elias on Wednesday, his second in as many days and the 494th of his career. That puts him in sole possession of 26th on the all-time list, passing Fred McGriff and Lou Gehrig.
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.