5/30/2014 11:05 P.M. ET
Frieri feeds off ninth-inning pressure
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- Ernesto Frieri has appeared in the Angels' last three save chances, and though Mike Scioscia said Friday that there will still be nights when he turns to sidearmer Joe Smith in the ninth, it looks like Frieri has at least re-established himself as the team's primary closer.
"All I know is when I'm pitching the ninth, I pitch like a closer," Frieri said in Spanish. "I try to do the best I can to save the game. The final decision is up to the manager. I can't tell him I want to do it. I do want to [pitch the ninth]. But I have to show it, and I think more and more he's regaining that confidence in me."
Scioscia has always said his preference is for Frieri to get back to the point where he can close full time, so he has more flexibility with how to use Smith.
Lately, Frieri is making that a lot easier on him.
Since getting demoted after a ninth-inning meltdown in Washington D.C. on April 23, the 28-year-old right-hander has given up just two runs in 14 1/3 innings, striking out 16 batters, allowing eight baserunners and going 6-for-6 in save chances.
Frieri is among those who feels his intensity level is just different in the ninth.
"And I just like it better," he added. "I like to feel that adrenaline. You have to pitch, and you have to do your job no matter the situation. But it's not the same. It's not the same when you pitch in the eighth or the seventh as opposed to the ninth. That adrenaline is just different. Everyone experiences it different, but the ninth inning is the one for me. It's the one I like. I feel much better there. It brings the best out of me, I think."
Cron, Green battling to stay when Hamilton returns
OAKLAND -- It'll likely be either Grant Green or C.J. Cron getting sent back down to the Minor Leagues when Josh Hamilton makes his expected return to the starting lineup early next week.
That part isn't all that difficult to decipher.
But picking a favorite is.
Both of them are hitting, both of them bring their own intrinsic value to the roster -- and one will probably be broken-hearted in a few days.
"It's tough not to think about it, that's for sure," Green said. "When Josh comes back, you know somebody's gotta go. You just go out there and play the days that you do, and hopefully when that time comes it's not you. But in the same sense, if I get sent down I'll be happy for C.J. Hopefully vice versa."
Since coming up on May 3, Cron has batted .323/.353/.585 with three homers, nine RBIs and six doubles, bringing the Angels legitimate right-handed power and the ability to occasionally spell Albert Pujols at first base.
Since coming up on May 2, Green has batted .377/.393/.491 while giving the Angels coverage at up to five different positions -- second base, third base, shortstop, left field and, in case of emergency, first base.
"Me and Greeny came up in a situation where we didn't have time to develop; we had to contribute right away," Cron said. "We understood that, and we understand there also is a decision that has to be made. We've both been playing well, so you can't really think about it. Or else, it can get to you. You just have to play your game and try to help the team win as much as possible."
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto gave the struggling Raul Ibanez a vote of confidence 10 days ago, saying he believes the veteran designated hitter can recover from the .153/.268/.282 slash line he currently sports, pointing out that keeping Ibanez is the best way for the organization to preserve depth and indicating that they have no thoughts of releasing the 41-year-old.
Unless that changes -- and there have been no indications otherwise -- it'll be Green vs. Cron.
And it's anybody's guess right now.
"Every player who is up here has positives that you would look at for why you want to keep them on the roster," Scioscia said. "That's why it's going to be a tough decision."
Calhoun sits in opener to avoid tough lefty
OAKLAND -- Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun finally broke out on Thursday, going 2-for-4 vs. the Mariners while drawing a couple of walks and admittedly seeing the ball better than he has since returning from a sprained right ankle nine days ago.
And for that effort, he earned a spot right back on the bench.
The left-handed-hitting Calhoun sat against A's lefty Drew Pomeranz on Friday, and may sit again when another lefty -- Tommy Milone -- starts on Saturday. Calhoun historically has even splits -- .750 OPS versus lefties, .749 OPS versus righties -- but Angels manager Mike Scioscia continues to platoon with his outfield corners, going with right-handed hitters Grant Green (left field) and Collin Cowgill (right field) in the series opener.
Scioscia said recently that Calhoun is "too good a hitter" to platoon.
But not against a guy who has limited lefties to a .168/.245/.224 slash line in his career, at least.
"Today is really just a matchup day against Pomeranz," Scioscia said. "His splits are really tilted toward giving more of a right-handed look to our lineup. It might be different vs. Milone. Kole took a huge step forward yesterday. Just the fact of him seeing so many pitches and getting on base so much is why in the first place we considered him as a potential leadoff candidate. I think our best lineup is a look that will eventually have him up there, but at times, we're going to have to adjust off of it."
• Albert Pujols returned to first base, and the No. 3 spot of the lineup, after missing his first game of the year to rest on Thursday. Erick Aybar led off for the Angels, with Howie Kendrick -- the leadoff hitter for seven straight games until Thursday -- batted fifth.
• Third baseman Ian Stewart, out since May 11 with a left hand contusion, is currently rehabbing at the Angels' complex in Arizona. Scioscia said "his hand still has a little bit of discomfort in it, and our medical department wants to make sure they get it out of there before he gets back to full swing."
• Playing for Triple-A Salt Lake, Hector Santiago gave up one run in 5 1/3 innings on Friday, scattering four hits, walking three batters and striking out seven, while Josh Hamilton had two singles in four plate appearances, striking out once. Hamilton was playing in his second rehab game, and first in eight days after suffering a bone bruise in his surgically repaired left thumb. Santiago is trying to prove he belongs in the rotation again.
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.