Posted March 20, 2012 on
AP on Fox
Los Angeles Angels
Albert Pujols is getting to work early and staying late at spring training. He's honing his famed swing and getting to know his new teammates, fastidiously preparing to give a full return on the biggest investment the Los Angeles Angels have ever made.
The Angels can't wait to reap the dividends during the most anticipated season in franchise history.
The three-time NL MVP doesn't appear to be missing a beat in his transition to the AL this spring, sliding into the heart of the Angels' order with the same work ethic and power that enticed Los Angeles owner Arte Moreno to commit $240 million to the Dominican slugger over the next 10 years.
''Everybody here knows what I can do and, if I'm healthy, I'm going to try to do that,'' Pujols said. ''I don't know what kind of numbers I can put up this year because I don't get caught up in numbers, but I can tell you I'm going to give 110 percent for sure every day to help this organization to win. ... All I can do is go out there and get myself ready every day.''
While he prepares in Arizona, Pujols is at the center of the Angels' marketing efforts all over Southern California, with eye-catching billboards only featuring the slugger's back in a No. 5 jersey and a few simple slogans, often ''El Hombre.''
Pujols didn't like that concept, saying it was too close to revered Cardinals slugger Stan ''The Man'' Musial. Still, it's tough to blame the Angels for crowing over their pickup - particularly in Hollywood or the San Fernando Valley, where baseball fans in the longtime Dodgers strongholds might be coaxed down the I-5 freeway to get a look at arguably the greatest slugger of his generation.
''He works hard at everything,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ''I think a guy with his talent, they have the talent, but there's a reason they play to such a high level. It doesn't surprise us that he works this hard.''
Pujols isn't the only new addition that's looking good for the Angels, who changed general managers and reloaded their roster after finishing 10 games behind Texas in the AL West standings last season and missing the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time in a decade. Even though the Angels had another winning season and even outdrew the Dodgers with more than 3 million fans at Angel Stadium, Moreno paid top dollar for even more elite talent.
Left-hander C.J. Wilson, who got $77.5 million in a five-year deal that became below-the-fold news when Pujols signed hours later at the winter meetings, has been sharp so far in his hometown club's deep rotation alongside Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana.
Catcher Chris Iannetta appears ready to shore up the Angels' most deficient position last season, working with his new pitching staff and providing more offense than the players he replaced after arriving in a trade with Colorado.
And the Angels might even figure out a way to get more production at third base. Mark Trumbo, who led the Angels in homers and RBIs last season as a rookie first baseman, has looked fairly sharp across the diamond at third this spring, although he's still adjusting to the new position.
''You don't call it the hot corner for nothing,'' Trumbo said.
The Angels are even cautiously optimistic they'll add another talented bat to their lineup this year - one they haven't seen in nearly two years. Kendrys Morales, the Cuban slugger who broke his ankle jumping on home plate in early 2010, was expected to return to spring games this week.
If Morales' recovery goes well, the Angels would have three power-hitting first basemen on their roster, either giving them impressive depth or ample ingredients for a trade.
The Angels' rotation appears rock-solid, but the final spot is still open. Jerome Williams, the right-hander who revitalized his career with a late-season surge last fall, hasn't been able to pitch for two weeks after straining his hamstring, leaving Scioscia sorting among prospects Garrett Richards, Trevor Bell, Eric Hurley and Brad Mills for a fifth starter.
The bullpen, an Angels strength for most of the previous decade, was decidedly average last year. Los Angeles added LaTroy Hawkins for $3 million, while fellow veteran Jason Isringhausen is attempting to pitch his way onto the roster. Closer Jordan Walden earned an All-Star berth and 32 saves as a rookie last year, but also blew 10 saves.
But with a long season ahead, the Angels appear to have everything necessary to earn a postseason spot. Outfielder Torii Hunter, the Angels' emotional leader and unofficial team captain, can't remember being this excited for a season to begin since he was a youngster with the Minnesota Twins many years ago.
''It's starting to get more intense,'' Hunter said. ''There's a lot of chemistry formed down here. Every player is trying to get in a rhythm, and we want to take that into the season.''
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Interview Conducted by David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer
On March 10th, 2012 at the Tempe Fiesta Resorts Conference Center, AngelsWin.com hosted several guests such as Angels' owner Arte Moreno, John Carpino, Tim Mead, OCR reporters, Rob Goldman, Halos prospects such as Matt Shoemaker, Frazier Hall, Mike Piazza and Angels 5th starter hopeful Jerome Williams and family...
Reporting from Surprise, Ariz. C.J. Wilson ran more than a mile before his Tuesday start, produced five shutout innings with five strikeouts and no walks, then ran again in the outfield for about 15 minutes.
"I'm looking forward to building up to nine innings," Wilson said afterward. "I'm trying to simulate pitching on a hot day in Texas."
Outside of the fifth starter spot, the Angels Opening Day roster is set. This is the kind of thing that happens after you spend half of a gajillion dollars in the off-season to add free agents and lock up other players to extensions. It makes for great roster certainty, but not so much for spring training position battle intrigue. Sigh.
But wait! There is always the possibility...
Anaheim,CA FOX Sports West,in partnership with the Los Angeles Angels, today announced a 50-gameSpanish-language schedule which will be made available to all Los Angelesmarket video providers. Thisline-up follows FOX Sports Networks (FSN) announcement earlier today to launchan expansive effort to serve Hispanic fans in Southern California.
The50 high-definition Angels broadcasts...
Interview Conducted by Brian Waller, AngelsWin.com Feature WriterIntensity is something you can’t teach. It’s not a pitch you can practice in the bullpen; it’s not a flaw in your swing you can fix in the batting cages. It’s an intangible that doesn’t show in stat lines on the back of baseball cards. It’s a personality trait that is found in winners and leaders throughout...
Arte Moreno has enough money to buy you, make you dance a jig for his amusement, sell you for thirty cents on the dollar, buy you back, have you killed, and then have you made into some amusing little tinker-toy.
And GQ got a rare interview with the Angels owner today:
GQ: Is there concern about paying him $30 million when he’s 41 years old?
Arte Moreno: Someone else asked me...
The budding rivalry between the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels took an odd twist Sunday.
Former Rangers ace C.J. Wilson took to Twitter and sent out an old phone number of current Texas catcher Mike Napoli. Later he apologized to Napoli on Twitter and said the he did the prank because Napoli said he couldn't wait to hit a homer off Wilson.
Smart move by Wilson? Wilson...
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Howie Kendrick launched his third homer of the spring and Ervin Santana threw four scoreless innings, but the Los Angeles Angels lost to the Colorado Rockies 4-3 on Monday.
Santana, removed from his previous start Wednesday after taking a line drive off the right shoulder against the White Sox, showed no ill effects in his 61-pitch outing. He allowed just...
It has been 10 years since the (then) Anaheim Angles won the World Series on the backs of rookies John Lackey and Francisco Rodriguez, and older folks like Bengie Molina and Garret Anderson (not to mention the Rally Monkey). Post 2002, the Angles went on a tear, winning the AL West five times between 2004 and 2009.
Since then, though, the Texas Rangers have taken over ownership...
Texas Rangers catcher Mike Napoli can't quite figure out why Los Angeles Angels pitcher and former teammate C.J. Wilson felt the need to send his phone number out on Twitter.
Wilson sent a tweet acting as if he was giving his former teammate his number, but instead posted an old phone number of Napoli's. Wilson then deleted the tweet and called it a prank.
C.J. Wilson continued his strong spring start against the Kansas City Royals.
Wilson, who signed a five-year $77.5 million contract in December, allowed three hits in five scoreless innings, but the Angels bullpen faltered and the Royals rallied for a 6-4 victory Tuesday.
Wilson struck out five, including the side in the first inning, and walked none. In four exhibition starts...
The March 20th, 2012 edition of daily news for the Los Angeles Angels ...
As part of our preview for the upcoming 2012 season, we’ll be doing a ’10 Bold Predictions for 2012′ series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our second prediction is that the arrival of David Freese as a superstar. This will help in providing a soft landing spot in the transition of the Cardinals and their fans into the post-Pujols era.
Those 21 postseason...
On Sept. 5, the Cardinals lost to the Brewers to fall to 74-67. The leaders for the wild card, the Braves, were 82-58 and had a magic number of 14 with just 22 games to go. A week later, thanks in part to a sweep of the Braves, the Cardinals had shaved four games off the lead. They finished the year winning 16 of their final 21, earning a playoff berth on the last day of the season...