6/20/2014 9:31 P.M. ET
As the Halos bullpen gate turns
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- An area of concern all season, the Angels bullpen remains the subject of daily scrutiny and maintenance by manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher.
For a weekend series against the Rangers starting Friday night, after Cam Bedrosian and Ernesto Frieri let a two-run lead get away in Cleveland on Thursday, it was anybody's guess who might get the call in a potential ninth-inning save situation.
Right-handers Joe Smith and Kevin Jepsen seemed to be the most likely candidates to fill the closer's role after Frieri's latest misstep, yielding a walk-off grand slam to Nick Swisher of the Indians in relief of Bedrosian. Mike Morin (1.21 ERA in 21 appearances) is also an option, and southpaw Hector Santiago is in the bullpen, temporarily at least, with Matt Shoemaker the choice to start Sunday's series finale.
"We want to see how the game evolves," Scioscia said. "A lot of attention is put on Ernie and getting back in his game. We need him. We have Joe Smith and Kevin Jepsen throwing very well. We'll see what the matchups are, how the last four to six outs shape up."
Smith has five saves and eight holds, Jepsen four holds and no saves. Santiago, bidding to reclaim his spot in the rotation after a sluggish start to the season, was primarily a reliever with the White Sox in 2012 before emerging as a starter last year.
Jepsen once was regarded as the closer of the future, but he has never settled into that role, set back by various injuries and struggling to "find a consistent arm slot," according to Scioscia.
"This is as consistent as we've seen him," Scioscia said. "His stuff is every bit as electric as it's been. I think this is the best equipped he's ever been" to fill the closer's role. "Basically, he's a more complete pitcher."
Jepsen had a streak of 11 consecutive hitless appearances from May 7 to June 5. He has a 2.84 ERA in 32 appearances with 32 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings while holding hitters to a .191 batting average.
"I feel good," Jepsen said. "I'm ready for anything."
Nike unveils Trout's new cleats
ANAHEIM -- Mike Trout went with his regular, more conventional cleats on Friday night at Angel Stadium in the series opener against the Rangers. But highly visible in his locker, alongside his red, white and black shoes, were his Nike Lunar Vapor Trout signature cleats, fresh out of the box after being unveiled by the company earlier in the day.
"I've got a bunch of these," Trout said, beaming. "This is an honor. It is big . . . pretty cool."
The first Major League player since Ken Griffey Jr. to be presented a signature cleat line by Nike, Trout was pleased to have a role in the design of the shoe. The line features a red and neon shoe that, according to Nike, "redefines the balance of speed and power in baseball and embodies the future direction of the game."
Those words might have been used to describe Trout, the Angels center fielder who already serves as the widely hailed standard for all-around greatness at age 22.
"It means a lot [being with] Nike, the way they were able to build the spike around the way I wanted it," Trout said. "As a kid, you were Griffey in Nikes."
Trout called the neon version "flashy, for sure -- you see a lot of guys now who wear neon. It's kind of fashionable." He said club president John Carpino suggested that he break them out for Sunday night's nationally televised game against Texas, but Trout isn't sure when or if he'll wear the neon shoes in a regular-season game.
For maximum exposure, the Major League All-Star Game in Minnesota might be the ideal time and place.
Trout shares Yogi's mantra
ANAHEIM -- He was a Derek Jeter fan growing up in Millville, N.J., but Angels superstar Mike Trout is in complete agreement with the philosophy of another Yankees legend, Yogi Berra, when it comes to hitting.
"If you're up there thinking, you're going to get out -- 100 percent of the time," Trout said when told of Berra's famous remark that a player can't hit and think at the same time. "Once the game comes, I'm not trying to think up there; that's when you get in trouble.
"I'm not a big film, video guy. I just go out and play. I don't think about what's going to come. I like to see what the pitcher's got, what his slider's doing, that kind of thing. But that's about it. Sometimes when you're in a skid, you go look at film and see what you were doing when you were going good. Then maybe you make little adjustments."
When he fell into a rare slump earlier in the season, Trout saw on video what he'd felt at the plate -- that he was swinging too hard, trying too hard to drive the ball. He settled back into his normal style, not forcing things, and the balls started flying off his bat again.
Raising his average to .311, Trout leads the American League in slugging percentage at .611 and in OPS (on-base plus slugging) at 1.012. He has hit safely in 24 of his past 25 games, batting .394 with 26 RBIs in the stretch, and is batting .385 during a current 13-game hitting streak.
"I just go out and play," he said when asked about the streak. "I don't worry about the past. It's a new day. Just stay positive, have confidence in your ability and routine. Stick to it."
• Angels manager Mike Scioscia confirmed that Jered Weaver will start the second game of the series on Saturday night with Matt Shoemaker, coming off a career-best outing in Cleveland, getting the call on Sunday night against the Rangers. That puts lefty Hector Santiago in the bullpen, temporarily, with a chance to start next weekend in Kansas City, Scioscia said.
• The Angels have called up versatile Grant Green and optioned reliever Dane De La Rosa to Triple-A Salt Lake. Infielder Ian Stewart was reinstated to the roster and optioned to Salt Lake. Green is hitting .359 and slugging .469 in 64 at-bats with the Angels. He has four doubles, a homer and six RBIs. Green can play left field as well as all four infield positions.
• De La Rosa, on the disabled list twice this season, has made only three appearances for the Angels, giving up three earned runs in 2 1/3 innings. Stewart, sidelined by a left hand contusion since May 12, is hitting .176 with two doubles, three triples and two homers in 68 at-bats.
• The amazing Mike Trout is the first player in history with at least 300 runs, 75 homers and 75 steals in his first 400 games. Erick Aybar has hit .347 in his past 26 games with 17 RBIs, and Albert Pujols has nine RBIs in his past six games.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.