Results tagged ‘ Bobby Abreu ’

Fireworks continue: three straight bombs

Back-to-back-to-back. That’s what the Angels did on Thursday in their first look at Goodyear Ballpark, home of the Indians. Facing lefty Scott Lewis in the third inning after he’d already yielded two runs on four hits, Bobby Abreu, Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter each went deep, using all fields – Abreu to center, Guerrero to right, Hunter to left.

Mike Scioscia once again had Chone Figgins, Howard Kendrick and Abreu at the top of the order, and through three innings they’d combined for a single and triple (by Figgins), a walk (by Kendrick, showing his plate discipline) and the blast by Abreu.

Showing he was fully recovered from the crash into the center field wall on Tuesday against the Rockies at home, Hunter lashed a double to left in his first at-bat. Even before his 400-foot shot to left, Hunter had lined a ball just foul into the left-field corner.

Jeff Mathis, catching Nick Adenhart, had two hits through two innings. Perhaps the best athlete among all catchers in the game, Mathis showed his speed when he stole second. This is a guy who could have been a defensive back at Florida State had he chosen football over baseball. How many catchers can say that?

 

Matthews wants to play every day — somewhere

Gary Matthews Jr. is determined to play every day, preferably in center field. The Angels — overstocked with quality outfielders – do not appear to have a place for him to do so on a regular basis.

“There comes a time if a decision is made . . . ” manager Mike Scioscia said, not finishing the thought. “We’ve got a lot of bats here. We’ll address things in time. We’re not going to make a decision today.”

Recovered from late October surgery on his left knee, Matthews has been more than impressive in Cactus League play. He has been spectacular.

Matthews’ two-run homer against the Padres in Tuesday’s 10-5 Angels victory was a tremendous drive to right field that, he later reported, “came within six inches of hitting my Bentley” in the parking lot.

He crushed this one almost as far, he believed, as the one against the White Sox in the new Camelback Ranch-Glendale park that teammates estimated at 450 feet.

Matthews, who doubled in front of Maicer Izturis’ three-run homer in his first at-bat, is hitting .412 with 16 total bases in 17 at-bats.

“My play’s kind of doing all the talking for me,” Matthews said. “My play speaks louder than what I can say to anyone. I wasn’t supposed to be back until mid-May, late-May. I’m fine. I’m ready to go back to playing every day.”

With Torii Hunter entrenched in center field and Vladimir Guerrero, Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera ahead of him on the outfield depth chart, Matthews has a hard time seeing consistent playing time coming his way no matter what he does.
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He has gone to general manager Tony Reagins and Scioscia to express his desire to play regularly, and they have been candid with him, he said, about their point of view.

“You don’t play forever,” Matthews said. “I’m 34. Guys take such good care of themselves now. I’m 34. It’s not like I’m 24 and have time to sit around and waste years sitting around. That’s not what I’m going to do.”

That sounds very much like “play me or trade me,” a refrain as old as the game itself.

Kendrick could flourish as No. 2 hitter

Howard. That’s what his wife, Jody, and his family members call the Angels’ second baseman, known in the baseball world as Howie Kendrick. I tried calling him Howard in print for a time last season — he told me it didn’t matter one way or another to him — but it seemed to confuse readers, so I went back to Howie.

He told me this morning that he became Howie after a baseball card company asked if it could call him Howie rather than Howard. It picked up momentum when he was in the minor leagues, and he’s been Howie ever since — even though those close to him call him Howard.

So … on to the news of the day. When the season opens and he’s announced as Howie Kendrick at Angel Stadium, he could be in the No. 2 spot in the order, between Chone Figgins and Bobby Abreu. It was manager Mike Scioscia’s initial plan to bat the highly selective Abreu second, followed by Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter. But Kendrick’s strong spring and growth as a hitter seems to be moving Scioscia toward a new look.

I love the idea of Kendrick batting second, the more I think about it. For one thing, it will give him as many as 70 to 80 more at-bats than he would get hitting down in the order, and this guy could be a batting champion very soon. He drives the ball to all fields and doesn’t strike out a lot, and he’s an exceptional baserunner. Figgins likes the idea of Howie hitting behind him, and Abreu has batted third most of his career. So it makes sense on a number of levels.

Scioscia made an interesting point about why Kendrick doesn’t walk more. He squares up balls and puts them in play at a high rate. But he is learning how to work counts, and he’s totally into the game. Reggie Willits, one of the smartest guys I’ve been around, hit in front of Kendrick in the minors and thinks Howard has everything you’re looking for in a No. 2 hitter.

We’ll see where it goes from here. Scioscia has been known to experiment with lineups. Maicer Izturis also is highly capable of being a solid No. 2 hitter, and Erick Aybar also has made strides in his selectivity. But Kendrick is a special hitter — a “freak of nature,” Willits calls him, with utmost respect. , ,  

Matthews making his point

It was a serious and determined Gary Matthews Jr. who arrived early in camp this spring. After undergoing knee surgery on Oct. 28, he’d worked diligently to regain leg strength and expressed confidence that he’d be ready to play sooner than the club imagined.

He wasn’t kidding around.

In right field on Wednesday against the White Sox after playing center on Tuesday against the Padres, Matthews unloaded against Gavin Floyd in the fourth, an inning after Chone Figgins had launched a two-run bomb.

Matthews’ solo blast, his first of the spring, carried at least 420 feet, way beyond the 380 marker in right center. On Tuesday, manager Mike Scioscia expressed amazement over how well Matthews was running — “as well as ever,” the skipper said. Clearly, there’s nothing wrong with Matthews’ power either.

The early projection was for Juan Rivera and Bobby Abreu to share left field and the designated hitter role, but Matthews, if he keeps this up, might force some serious reevaluations by Scioscia and his staff.

 

Abreu update

Bobby Abreu, playing right field and batting third, walked and struck out twice in Venezuela’s 3-1 decision over the Netherlands on Saturday in Miami in the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

Abreu, through five Classic games, is batting .313 with a .389 on-base percentage and .563 slugging percentage. He has a homer and three RBIs. Abreu was hitting .333 in four Cactus League games with the Angels before joining Team Venezuela.

“We should get him back for at least seven or eight [preseason] games,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Abreu, who is expected to share left field and the DH job with Juan Rivera. “That should be enough time to integrate him into the offense.”

Former Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez registered a four-out save for Venezuela against the Netherlands, yielding one hit while striking out a pair of hitters. K-Rod hasn’t given up a run in three Classic appearances. 

Abreu cracks double, first hit as an Angel

Having gone hitless with a walk in his first two games in red, Bobby Abreu didn’t waste any time banging his first hit in an Angels uniform on Friday at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Facing Rockies southpaw Greg Smith, part of  the deal that made Matt Holliday a member of the Athletics, Abreu smoked a line drive over the head of right fielder Matt Murton for a double in the bottom of the first inning. Hainley Statia, who’d walked leading off, scored on Freddy Sandoval’s sacrifice fly.

In the top of the second, Abreu had his first misadventure in left field. A fly ball by Clint Barmes got up in the sun and Abreu couldn’t find it, letting it fall for a triple. But Fernando Rodriguez, replacing Sean O’Sullivan after a two-run Colorado first, struck out two hitters to escape without yielding a run.

Abreu made it two doubles in two innings when he hit a sinking liner in front of Murton that kicked away from him far enough to allow Abreu — always an aggressive baserunner — to scoot into second. 

A double as his first Angels hit was fitting for Abreu, who has had 35 or more doubles every season since 1999, his second full season in the Majors with the Phillies.

Following a walk to Mike Napoli, Sean Rodriguez showed off his pop with a double off the wall in left, driving home Abreu and tying the game at 2.

Rodriguez, a superb athlete with big-time power to right center, has been working out at second and short exclusively so far this spring. But he is a natural center fielder who would love to expand his versatility by getting some time in the outfield. A catcher as a kid, he also feels he  could fill in behind the plate in an emergency.

Abreu gets quick test in left

Wouldn’t you know it? The very first inning of his very first Cactus League game in left field, trying to get comfortable with the newness of it all, Bobby Abreu fields two fly balls.

Following two singles, White Sox slugger Carlos Quentin lifted a towering fly ball against Matt Palmer that drifted to his left as Abreu came charging in. He made the catch, but it wasn’t an easy chance. The next hitter, Jim Thome, lifted another high fly that got in the path of the sun. Shielding his eyes with his glove, Abreu handled that one as well.

In his first Angels at-bat, Abreu sprayed a ball into the left corner, foul, before flying to center. In his second at-bat, against Octovio Dotel in the third, Abreu demonstrated his discipline, taking  the count to 3-0 before walking on a 3-1 pitch after a fly-ball RBI double to left by Hainley Statia.

Abreu hopes to play every day until he departs after Sunday’s game, giving him a chance to get acquainted with left field. Almost exclusively a right fielder in his 13-year Major League career, he has played left only 16 times — and not since 1997.

     

 

Izzy has a new number: 13

Few, if any, Angels players are as popular with teammates as Maicer Izturis, who might just be the nicest guy on our planet. He’s always in a good mood, always smiling, always optimistic. Even a few days after the surgery to repair a thumb fracture that ended his season prematurely last August, Izzy was upbeat, quietly talking about the possibility of returning for the postseason — and he almost made it.

Izzy was in the middle of an early-morning conversation on Saturday with Chone Figgins, Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar. It was the familiar, good-natured kind of dialogue that passes the time before the players hit the field.

“Look,” Kendrick said, pointing to the nameplate above Izturis’ locker with the No. 13. “Maicer has a new number this year.”

Izturis, ever so softly, mentioned that it holds no superstition for him, that he’s worn No. 13 in the past. He was No. 6 last year. That number has gone to Hainley Statia, who is among a half-dozen quality shortstops in camp. Bobby Abreu will adorn No. 53, with Brian Fuentes taking No. 40, Troy Percival’s old number.

When a visitor mentioned to Izturis that No. 13 has worked out all right for Alex Rodriguez, Figgins shook his head. “No A-Rod talk here,” he said, grinning.

Kendrick mentioned that Izturis packs some wallop for a little guy standing 5-foot-8, recalling  how Izzy had homered in consecutive games as the club’s leadoff man last season.

“That won’t happen this year,” Figgins said, having established as his early goal a full 162-game season.

Izturis is sound physically and looking forward to competing with good buddy Aybar for the shortstop job again after they shared it in 2008, with Brandon Wood getting some time there  with both players out in September.

Garret Anderson remains a popular topic of clubhouse conversation, players speculating where their former teammate will land. The consensus is that he’ll be a steal for somebody, that he has a lot of life left in his bat.   

       

 

PECOTA trashes Angels

If manager Mike Scioscia needed any ammo to fire up his troops, it was grooved like a Doc Gooden fastball at the belt by stat maven Nate Silver in his PECOTA ratings for Baseball Prospectus.

Silver, it turns out, doesn’t think much of the Halos — specifically, what he sees as an aging offense creating more headaches for Angels pitchers than rival managers. PECOTA has the Angels finishing 16 games off their MLB-best 2008 pace with a mere 84 wins, barely managing to prevail in what it envisions as a weak AL West.

I can understand some anticipated slippage with Mark Teixeira and Garret Anderson departing; those are two high-quality offensive players. But Bobby Abreu has been a fairly consistent 100/100 man (runs. RBIs), and he should fit nicely between Chone Figgins and Vladimir Guerrero in Scioscia’s projected top third. Of course, a big spring by Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar or Maicer Izturis could convince Scioscia to plant Abreu in the No. 3 hole, with Guerrero fourth and Torii Hunter fifth.

The rest of the lineup is deep and potentially much more explosive than PECOTA imagines. Mike Napoli has the tools to go 30/100 with enough at-bats, joining Guerrero on a surgically-repaired knee, and Hunter, Kendry Morales, Juan Rivera all are capable of exceeding 20 homers with 80 to 100 RBIs. If Hunter bats fourth, behind Vlad, he could surpass his career high of 107 RBIs from 2007.

Call me an incurable optimist, but this shapes up as a pretty fair attack — and it has a nice blend of youth and experience, top to bottom.

It was last year at this time that a lot of snipers were relegating the Angels to second place in the AL West behind Seattle, with its new ace,  Erik Bedard. Scioscia, I’m sure, got some clubhouse mileage out of that. I’m sure PECOTA and its views might surface in one of his pre-game chats with the players before too long.     

Abreu, Angels close to a deal

There is still no official confirmation, but it appears that the Angels and Bobby Abreu are hammering out a one-year deal worth $5 million plus incentives, according to multiple reports. Abreu would provide left-handed balance in a heavily right-handed offense and would join a four-man rotation for the three outfield spots and designated hitter role with Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter and Juan Rivera.

This will give the Angels another crowded outfield,with Gary Matthews Jr. (recovering from knee surgery) and Reggie Willits pushed down the depth chart. Both are versatile outfielders with talents that could play in other cities if the Angels decide to shop them. Matthews will have to prove he’s fully recovered from the knee operation, and Willits also needs a good spring to reestablish himself as a quality Major Leaguer after an injury-riddled 2008.

The upshot of the Abreu move is that it pretty much slams the door on any chance of Garret Anderson returning after 14 years as the club’s most productive career hitter. With Adam Dunn going to Washington, Anderson is the most attractive hitter left in free agency not named Manny Ramirez.        

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