5/7/2014 2:48 A.M. ET
Scioscia: Weaver again pitching like ace
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Jered Weaver seems to be rounding back into his ace form.
Over his last four starts, the 31-year-old right-hander has a 1.78 ERA, giving up five runs in 25 1/3 innings, while striking out 18 batters and walking six. And on Monday night, he worked out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the eighth to complete eight innings of one-run ball with a season-high seven punchouts.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who left Weaver in the game despite having 98 pitches under his belt when the jam began, said it was "the best stuff that he had, and maintained, in quite a while."
"It was even a tick better than what we saw two years ago," Scioscia said, referencing a 2012 season that saw Weaver win 20 games and finish third in American League Cy Young Award voting. "That's encouraging."
Weaver's average fastball velocity was 86.9 mph on Monday, which is tied for the April 12 outing for the highest of the season. He hit 87 mph twice in the eighth inning, reached 88 mph on five separate occasions -- including three times after the fifth -- and even touched 89 mph once.
As Scioscia said, "It just seemed like it was fun for him last night."
Most encouraging was the life Weaver had on his fastball and the command he had of all of his pitches. Weaver believes that's a byproduct of finally starting to regain some strength in his right arm, after going roughly six months without working out after suffering a broken left elbow on April 7 of last year.
And he believes he can keep getting stronger.
"This last week or so, I've been doing some workouts that can take some tension off the biceps tendon," said Weaver, whose had a sensitive biceps tendon for most of his career. "I haven't been able to do the lifting that I'm usually doing; it's more core stability and stuff like that. After that last start, I've been doing the old-school lifting again. We're trying to maintain that through the course of the season -- through the next start, at least."
Halos reliever Smith sidelined by tightness
ANAHEIM -- Angels sidearmer Joe Smith was, in fact, vomiting in the bullpen on Monday night, as manager Mike Scioscia indicated postgame, but that wasn't the reason Smith wasn't used in a save situation of an eventual 4-1 win over the Yankees.
Smith is nursing some tightness in his lower right side, an injury he doesn't deem serious but one that was expected to make him unavailable on Tuesday and also could sideline him on Wednesday.
Smith, who's 3-for-3 in save opportunities and has a 2.77 ERA in 14 appearances, hopes to return by Friday, at the latest. The Angels have an off-day on Thursday, before starting a six-game road trip through Toronto and Philadelphia. In the meantime, Ernesto Frieri -- who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning on Monday in his first save chance since the April 23 outing that got him demoted -- will likely handle the ninth.
"It feels a lot better than it did last night," Smith said of his injury. "Last night, it was pretty tight. This morning, it's a ton better. Hopefully we can use today and try to get it out."
Smith induced the vomiting after an energy bar he ate didn't sit well, then felt the tightness as he began to warm up in the bottom of the eighth. So the Angels instead went to Frieri, who had already been throwing and typically doesn't need more than eight pitches off the bullpen mound to be ready.
"I'm not worried about it," Smith said. "It's just sore. I didn't feel anything pop or tear or anything like that. I'm not expecting it to be more than a couple-days thing."
The bright spot in all this was that Frieri seems to have found his footing again. The 28-year-old right-hander's fastball looked more electric than it has all season, and he used it to record both of his strikeouts. Since being demoted, Frieri has thrown 4 2/3 hitless innings, giving up only a hit by pitch, and striking out four batters.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia indicated on Tuesday that he'll continue to match up in the ninth, but also has stated several times that his optimum bullpen involves having Frieri take over the ninth on a full-time basis so that Smith can match up more freely.
"It stunk not being able to pitch, but it was good to see Ernie get out there," Smith said. "It looked like the old Ernie. That was the positive note. It was awesome."
Aybar wears No. 2 because he idolized Jeter as kid
ANAHEIM -- Erick Aybar wears No. 2 for Derek Jeter.
Only Yankees games made their way to the Dominican Republic, and Aybar grew up idolizing Jeter, who's playing in his final regular-season series at Angel Stadium before retiring after the 2014 campaign. And for the last seven years, Aybar has proudly worn the Yankees captain's number.
"He was the guy who motivated me, always," the Angels' switch-hitting shortstop said of Jeter.
"His style of play, the kind of person he is. He's a good person," Aybar added. "You never see him upset. He's the ultimate professional. And that's what people admire, when you're a professional and you're a good person and get along with other players."
The fans at Angel Stadium -- a lot of them Yankees fans -- greeted Jeter with a standing ovation before his first plate appearance on Monday, eventually breaking out some "DE-REK JE-TER" chants. Afterward, Jeter called it "probably one of the coolest things that's happened in my career, to be quite honest with you."
The Angels will honor Jeter with a special gift before Wednesday's series finale.
And Aybar still can't believe he's retiring.
"He can keep playing, too," Aybar said. "He's retiring because he decided to, but he can still play defense, still runs well. He's the same as before. But that's his decision. You can't do anything about it. I wish him the best."
Angels' 2014 Honorary Bat Girl chosen
ANAHEIM -- Major League Baseball has announced the 31 winners of the 2014 Honorary Bat Girl Contest, recognizing fans who have been affected by breast cancer and are demonstrating a commitment to eradicate the disease.
The Angels' winner is Danielle Adams, who will be recognized in a special on-field ceremony prior to the game on Thursday, May 15.
Adams was diagnosed with Stage II triple negative breast cancer in March 2013. Over the past year, she has gone through four rounds of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy, followed by four additional rounds of chemotherapy. She finished treatment on Oct. 21 and had reconstructive surgery on Dec. 12.
Adams, a Garden Grove, Calif., resident and a lifelong Angels fan, was unable to attend a game last season, but her family has had season tickets at Angel Stadium since 1966. On May 15, before the Angels host the Rays, Adams will take part in pregame activities, including viewing batting practice from the field and throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
The Honorary Bat Girl winners were selected by fan votes on HonoraryBatGirl.com along with feedback from a guest judging panel that included Evan Longoria of the Rays, Freddie Freeman of the Braves, Pablo Sandoval of the Giants, country music superstar and Braves fan Jason Aldean, and Sam Ryan, an MLB Network host and reporter.
The Honorary Bat Girl program was introduced in 2009 to raise additional awareness and support for the annual "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative celebrated on Mother's Day.
• Angels utility man Grant Green was scratched prior to Tuesday's game, prompting Raul Ibanez to move from designated hitter to left field and C.J. Cron to be inserted in the starting lineup as the new DH. Green jammed the ring finger on his left hand during pregame warmups, Scioscia said. He's day to day.
• Dane De La Rosa (right s/c joint irritation) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for Triple-A Salt Lake on Tuesday night, with one strikeout, pitching for the second time in three days. De La Rosa will be reevaluated on Wednesday to see how many more rehab outings he'll need -- if any -- before being activated from the disabled list.
• The Angels don't necessarily have a true backup right fielder to Collin Cowgill at the moment. Scioscia indicated Ibanez would be the guy if something happened to Cowgill, and added that Ian Stewart has had some experience there. "We'll have a right fielder out there somehow," Scioscia said.
• The Angels announced their Minor League Players of the Month for April on Tuesday. Starter Cam Bedrosian (three wins, 26 strikeouts and a 1.69 ERA) was named best pitcher, Green (.941 OPS) was best offensive player, and shortstop Eric Stamets (one error in 101 chances) was best defensive player.
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.