8/15/2014 8:21 P.M. ET
Freese encouraged by last few months
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- David Freese was told recently about the season-long 10-game hitting streak he took into Friday's game, and he was asked if this was the type of thing that could spark a hot stretch from the Angels third baseman.
Freese put his head down, cracked a smile out of the corner of his mouth and said, "I don't know, I feel like I've actually had a pretty good last few months."
Ever so quietly, he has.
Freese entered Friday's series opener against the Rangers carrying a .291/.366/.417 slash line since the start of June. He's currently hitting .257/.326/.361, which isn't far from the .262/.340/.381 mark he finished the 2013 season with. The right-handed-hitting Freese has struggled mightily against righties, batting .239/.304/.318, but he's pounding lefties to the tune of .319/.400/.514.
He hasn't homered since July 27, and he won't get close to the .293/.372/.467 mark he posted during his breakout season in 2012. But Freese, who could be an interesting tender decision for the Angels in December, is happy with where he's at.
"I think I've done a pretty good job of just going day by day, and not caring about results," Freese said. "I know it's all about the results and getting the job done, but if you can simplify your approach and stay within yourself, it gives you the best chance to help the team."
Trout a fan of Little Leaguer Mo'ne
ARLINGTON -- Mo'ne Davis, the 13-year-old girl who has captivated baseball fans around the country, fired a shutout on Friday afternoon, becoming the first female pitcher to do that in the Little League World Series.
Hanging on every pitch, from the visitors' clubhouse at Globe Life Park, was Angels superstar Mike Trout.
"Did you see that?" Trout said. "That was pretty cool, just going out there and competing. We were definitely watching in the clubhouse.
"She was throwing everything. She was blowing the heater by people, got that nice breaking ball. It was fun to watch."
Davis, who struck out eight, walked none and gave up two hits in her six-inning shutout over a team from Nashville, Tenn., plays for Philadelphia's Taney Dragons, who reside close to Trout's hometown of Millville, N.J. Trout wasn't familiar with the team, but had heard of Davis' exploits through social media.
Davis also threw a shutout against a team from Delaware in the Regionals for the right to play in Williamsport, Pa., and is only the fourth American girl to compete at the Little League World Series.
"If you can do it, do it," Trout said. "That's cool."
Richards won't start against Oakland
ARLINGTON -- Garrett Richards started the series opener against the Rangers on Friday, which means his next turn will be Wednesday in Boston, which means his next turn after that will be Monday at home against the Marlins.
And that means the Angels' best starting pitcher of 2014 won't be pitching against the team they're chasing.
The Angels are in Oakland next weekend, and it'll be Hector Santiago, C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver starting on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The only way Richards -- 12-4 with a 2.54 ERA -- could start against the first-place A's would be to either skip his next turn or go on short rest.
It's too early for that, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, and that's too dangerous for someone who's in his first full year in a Major League rotation.
"We have a lot of baseball left," Scioscia added, "and I think you want to make sure guys are rested and they come back. Most of those guys are going to be going on four days' rest now -- we don't have many breaks -- and if we have to reserve the right to bring them back on three days at the very end, if it's meaningful, that's something for the last week to 10 days of the season."
If Richards pitches every five games the rest of the season, he'd start against the A's at home on Aug. 30, then miss them in Oakland during the second-to-last series of the regular season. But the Angels have an off-day on Sept. 1, their last one until Sept. 25, which Scioscia could use to line up his rotation for the final month.
But it isn't time for that yet.
"I think it's too early," Scioscia said, "and where our guys are, we still need five guys going out there and throwing the ball to their capabilities."
Eckstein leaving for new opportunity at Kentucky
ARLINGTON -- Rick Eckstein was enjoying his role as the Angels' player-information coach, and he wanted to see the season through. But in his mind, the opportunity to be the head assistant coach at the University of Kentucky was too good to pass up.
"Those guys were fantastic to me, and that's the hard part, because college and pro, they don't run on the same time schedule," Eckstein said in a phone conversation. "When this was going down, I struggled with that, but at the end of the day, I have to take care of my family. Talking with Jerry [Dipoto, the general manager], he felt like from a commitment standpoint moving forward, there really wasn't much he could say to commit to me. But that didn't make my decision; my decision was made because of the way I want to take my career."
Eckstein, brother of former Angels shortstop David Eckstein, was hired by the Angels to a new, hybrid coaching role in November, one that would see him aggregate and relay statistical information to the coaching staff pregame and then spend the in-game portion as somewhat of an advanced scout.
A couple weeks ago, though, Eckstein was contacted by Kentucky Wildcats head coach Gary Henderson, who coached him at the University of Florida in the mid-1990s, and Dipoto gave him his good graces. Eckstein, who will run the defense and hitting, wants to be a head baseball coach at the collegiate level and saw the move as a stepping stone.
Former first baseman Rico Brogna, hired over the offseason as a special assistant to Dipoto, will assume Eckstein's role the rest of the season.
"You want to see this through," said Eckstein, the Nationals' hitting coach for five years before joining the Angels. "I mean, we're the second-winningest team in baseball, we're on pace to do some really special stuff. But I'm there in spirit. I told each one of them that. I'm there in spirit, moving forward. I'll be watching."
Morin ready to be activated
ARLINGTON -- Angels reliever Mike Morin, on the shelf since Aug. 4 with a laceration in his left foot, accomplished all he needed to during a rehab outing for Class A Inland Empire on Thursday night. The 23-year-old fielded a drag bunt, threw 11 pitches, gave up one hit and struck out a couple batters in his lone inning of work, reportedly hitting 96 mph on the radar gun.
Morin is slated to be activated off the disabled list on Saturday, the first day he's eligible.
"It truly is different, whether if it was Inland Empire with 300 people there, the adrenaline was still going," Morin said. "It's a lot different from a bullpen. I'm glad I did that. It kind of eased my mind a little bit."
• Trout, Weaver, Scioscia, Wilson, Kole Calhoun, Jason Grilli and Joe Smith all took part in the ongoing social-media craze on Friday by participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge, which helps raise awareness for ALS research. Country music artist Kip Moore challenged Trout, just before Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley could.
• Dipoto doesn't anticipate getting an additional bat on waivers this month, saying the Angels will continue to use an in-house combination at designated hitter consisting of Brennan Boesch, Efren Navarro, Collin Cowgill and C.J. Cron. "And as our rosters expand in September," Dipoto added, "we'll have the potential to use one of our catchers in that type of position, as well."
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.