8/23/2014 3:10 A.M. ET
Freese seeing similarities to 2011 champions
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- Angels third baseman David Freese has played out a similar script before. It was 2011. The Cardinals announced during Spring Training that one of their rotation anchors, Adam Wainwright, would miss the upcoming season due to Tommy John surgery. And all the naysayers piled on, saying the Cardinals could never overcome the loss -- right up until they won the World Series.
Freese thought about that when Garrett Richards suffered the torn left patella tendon that ended his season on Wednesday -- though, Freese admits, it's a little tougher to recover from a loss like that with 5 1/2 weeks left in the regular season.
"I'll be honest," Freese said, "I'm sure it's tougher. You get in the groove, and you're a few months in, and you get a huge blow like this. But with that said, I'm sure there are plenty of times where this has happened, and teams have still gone on and accomplished what they wanted to do, which is to make an October run."
Freese's Cardinals didn't just overcome the loss of Wainwright; they came back from being 10 1/2 games back of a playoff spot as late as Aug. 25 to finish on top.
Shortly after Wainwright went down, the Cardinals held a meeting with the general message of not putting too much individual pressure on themselves and that it takes an entire team to play deep into October. The Angels held no such meeting. Nothing really needed to be said.
"We're professional enough to just go out and play," Freese said. "As important as Garrett has been, he's only on the mound once or twice a week. You understand that he's a big piece of your team, but there's guys who can step in and help us."
Wade LeBlanc, called up from Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday, will be the first candidate. And over the next nine days, general manager Jerry Dipoto will do his best to acquire additional starting pitching help via the waiver wire, with the understanding that top-of-the-rotation arms are seldom traded this time of year.
Freese believes they can overcome Richards' loss internally, much like his Cardinals of three years ago, because of the fabric of the team as a whole.
"There's a reason why certain teams play as far as they do," Freese said. "Obviously, you have to have talent. But the few years that I was with the Cardinals, the guys you have in the clubhouse is a huge part of why we had success. It's a fault to look past that. You have to have talent, but that's not enough, especially at the Major League level. Teams that win understand that."
LeBlanc happy he chose to stick with Angels
OAKLAND -- Journeyman starter Wade LeBlanc went from the Angels to the Yankees to the Angels again, all in a matter of two weeks.
The 30-year-old left-hander was designated for assignment after one appearance for the Angels, who needed to make room on the roster for some additional bullpen arms, then was claimed by the Yankees on June 3. After one appearance in the Bronx, LeBlanc was placed on waivers again, but this time he cleared.
At that point, LeBlanc had a choice: accept an outright assignment to the Yankees' Minor League system or become a free agent.
He chose the latter, so he could return to the Angels.
"I made it clear to my agent that if the situation would arise, this was the place I'd like to try to come back to," LeBlanc said. "The opportunity is there, I know the staff, the staff knows me here. And I think I can help them at some point."
The Angels need LeBlanc to help them now. He was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday, one day after Garrett Richards suffered a season-ending left knee injury, and now he's slated to take Richards' spot in the rotation on Monday -- if he isn't needed in emergency relief before then.
When the Angels designated LeBlanc for assignment on May 31, they made it clear that they'd like him to return to the organization if he clears waivers.
Now, both parties are fortunate LeBlanc chose to come back.
"I figured there was a good possibility when we looked at the situation here," LeBlanc said. "They hadn't really signed anybody else or made any trades to kind of replace me in Triple-A. When I saw that, I figured that there would be a good chance that this would work out."
LeBlanc has racked up 424 1/3 innings in the big leagues from 2008-14, posting a 4.56 ERA, a 1.44 WHIP and a 1.84 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League this year, he went 10-3 with a 4.00 ERA, a 1.38 WHIP and a 3.14 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Asked what appealed to him so much about the Angels' organization, LeBlanc said: "From day one, they were very upfront."
"A guy in my situation, all you want is honesty," he added. "There's teams that will tell you, 'We love you, think you fit in our big league pitching staff,' and then you never sniff it. They were very honest, very upfront with where they saw me fitting, and they never steered me wrong."
Richards' surgery goes as expected
OAKLAND -- Angels starter Garrett Richards had surgery to repair a torn left patella tendon at Orthopaedic Specialty Institute in Orange, Calif., on Friday. The procedure, which comes with a six- to nine-month recovery, went "as they expected" and doctors were "very happy with the repair," manager Mike Scioscia said.
But the fact that it actually took place is obviously a crushing blow to a first-place Angels team with World Series aspirations. And don't bother with the narrative that this setback will "galvanize" the Angels and prompt everyone else to "step up" in the wake of Richards' absence.
Scioscia "doesn't see any silver lining" in Richards' season-ending injury. His Angels may persevere through this, but it won't be as a result of it.
"I don't know if there's anything positive that's going to come out of it," Scioscia said, rather candidly, when asked if the loss of Richards can bring the team together.
"There's a chemistry that's starting to form, especially in the clubhouse, that's very real and tangible. I think guys are motivated, even if Garrett was here, to prove they can play at a certain level. Not having Garrett here, I just don't see it changing that. We're a pretty close-knit team right now. Maybe some of the guys feel that way, but I don't know if I sense that."
I'm out. Surgery went great! Thank you everyone for your support and positive vibes. I will get through this.- Garrett Richards (@GRICHARDS26) August 23, 2014
• After Friday's 5-3 loss, the Angels optioned right-handed reliever Cam Bedrosian back to the Minor Leagues. That will clear up a roster spot for Gordon Beckham, who will be added on Saturday to give the Angels a four-man bench. Beckham, acquired from the White Sox for a player to be named or cash considerations on Thursday, will fill in at second base, third base and shortstop.
• A 3-inch pipe at the club level of Angel Stadium burst at 2 a.m. PT on Friday, causing water to pour out for roughly 15 to 20 minutes and prompting the Angels to close their team store. The flooding caused water damage on six levels, primarily the home-plate area, and affected the IT department, ticket office, downstairs news-conference area and the owner's suite. The team store will stay closed on Saturday, but Angels vice president of communications Tim Mead said "fan experience will not be affected" when the club returns home on Monday.
• Hector Santiago took a Josh Donaldson liner off the side of his left hand in Friday's fifth inning, an incident that left his hand swollen postgame. Santiago faced two more batters, getting a walk and a flyout, then left the game mainly because he had thrown 98 pitches. Santiago expects to make his next scheduled start on Wednesday.
• Infielder Grant Green, on the disabled list since July 23 because of a lumbar strain, was slated to start a rehab assignment for Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday until the game was postponed. Green is nonetheless scheduled to be activated next week, but he probably won't join the Angels until rosters expand in September because the newly acquired Beckham will fill a similar role.
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.