USA TODAY Sports
This is the first season Jim Eppard has been at spring training as the Angels' hitting coach, and he's brought something that hasn't been focused on in a while...patience.
I've been missing a few things the last couple weeks, but at least there's baseball to occupy my mind...and Halolinks. Here are today's distractions:
Diamondbacks 7, Angels 7 - FOX Sports on MSN. "The Angels fielded a lineup consisting of every likely regular except Mike Trout, who debuted Monday, and Albert Pujols, who won't play until mid-March while returning from offseason knee surgery. But Los Angeles isn't using its top five starting pitchers in its first week of games in the extra-long spring training necessary for the WBC." I was kind of wondering why we were seeing pitchers I've never heard of these past few games. Damn WBC.
The problem with Bill Hall is that he hasn't played shortstop since 2004, else we'd be talking about him possibly replacing the departed Maicer Izturis as the Angels utility guy: Bill Hall smacks pair of two-run doubles in Angels' tie - angels.com. "Hall, fighting for a spot on the Angels' bench, smacked a pair of two-run doubles, including one that tied the game in the eighth." Oh, and the fact he hasn't had a decent season with the bat since 2006.
Hamilton goes hitless in Angels debut - Yahoo! Sports. ''You get those first little jitters when you're walking up to the plate, but it was a fun day,'' Hamilton said. ''It's a little awkward at first. You've been going against a team for five years, and the first day is a little awkward. But the guys are the guys after a while. It's tough to find a clubhouse where you don't fit in.''
It IS weird seeing him in an Angels uniform after spending the last few seasons wish him much failure: Outfielder Josh Hamilton can't deny 'weird' feeling in Angels debut - angels.com. "After swinging at the very first pitch he saw, Hamilton consciously took the first pitch the next time up, then smiled at hitting coach Jim Eppard, who's been working with the outfielder on the patience that has mostly eluded him. "He's been trying to get me to do it in batting practice and stuff," said Hamilton, who proceeded to put the next pitch in play. "I hadn't been too successful. So I took that for him." Go back and re-read that last clip...never mind, I'll repeat it for you, "...hitting coach Jim Eppard, who's been working with the outfielder on the patience that has mostly eluded him." I assumed it was the Angels stance to not teach patience to their hitters coming up through their system since they haven't developed a true OBP player in a long time, but apparently that's either changed or it was a Mickey Hatcher "hack at anything" concept. Although I'm an OBP lover, I'm a little leery of changing Hamilton's approach that has been very successful. That is until reading this: Preaching patience, Hamilton makes Angels spring debut - The Orange County Register. "Last season Hamilton swung at the first pitch 48 percent of the time, the second consecutive year he led the majors in that category. You can make a case that Hamilton shouldn't fix what isn't broken, because he still put up big numbers in those years. However, his best offensive season in Texas was 2010, which also happens to be the year he swung at the fewest number of first pitches, only 41 percent. Hamilton won the MVP that season." Obviously, there's are a ton of factors that impact a player's performance, but taking a few more pitches this season, especially if he hits third in the Halo batting order, should pay off.
Anyone truly worried about Trout's weight? Other than those needing to fill column space? Put a halo on it: Angels unconcerned with Mike Trout's extra weight - CBSSports.com. "Trout, the AL Rookie of the Year and near-MVP in 2012, is 10 to 15 pounds heavier this spring than he was last year. And that's zero problem in Angels manager Mike Scioscia's view. "He's running great, he feels great," Scioscia said. "He's not too far from where he played at last year. Everything he has is muscle. His body composition is still terrific."
An short update on Albert: Pujols to begin running, preparing for opening day - Yahoo! Sports. "Pujols is taking batting practice and running on a treadmill at spring training, and he participated in fielding drills Tuesday. He's expected to start running on the field later this week."
Last week I called Kevin Jepsen the forgotten man in the Angels bullpen. Here's another update on his spring progress: Back to old self, Jepsen keeping things simple - angels.com. ""Everything outside that happens before you get on the mound during the game, as far as working to refine mechanics, throw that out. Working to come up with a fourth pitch, throw that out," Jepsen said. "Taking my pitches, taking my mechanics, the way I throw, just do that every time, so I know what I'm going out with every time."
Although you may be as tired as I am about all of the PED stuff, if you click only one link today, click this one: Baseball ProGUESTus: Surviving Professional Baseball in the Steroid Era - Baseball Prospectus. "But these days, I sometimes wonder: What if I hadn’t played in the Steroid Era? What if I had made the decision to use steroids? What if no other players during that time had been using? Would my career have turned out differently? Would I have pitched longer in the big leagues? Would my statistics have been better? Would my 87-91-mph sinking fastball from the left side have been more impressive to the scouts, player development personnel, and general managers who made the decisions that determined whether I was major-league material and how long I would stay there?"
Here a few more links to keep you from having to work too hard today:
GMs Advise Students With Front Office Aspirations - MLBTradeRumors.com. "Follow your passion. As much as anything these jobs are a way of life that often require both resiliency and unconditional love of the game. In the end all types of skill sets and backgrounds work - but those that are rooted in true passion for the game are those that will last the longest. - Jerry Dipoto, Angels General Manager"
Noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews wants your young athlete to stay healthy by playing less - cleveland.com.
PD: Why the spike in youth injuries?
J.A.: Multiple factors, but two stand out: specialization and what we call professionalism. Specialization leads to playing the sport year-round. That means not only an increase in risk factors for traumatic injuries but a sky-high increase in overuse injuries. Almost half of sports injuries in adolescents stem from overuse. Professionalism is taking these kids at a young age and trying to work them as if they are pro athletes, in terms of training and year-round activity. Some can do it, like Tiger Woods. He was treated like a professional golfer when he was 4, 5, 6 years old. But you've got to realize that Tiger Woods is a special case. A lot of these kids don't have the ability to withstand that type of training and that type of parental/coach pressure. Now parents are hiring ex-pro baseball players as hitting and pitching instructors when their kid is 12. They're thinking, 'What's more is better,' and they're ending up getting the kids hurt. (Thanks to baseballmusings.com)
Kyle Lohse can't get work because ... well, just because. - Baseball Nation. "I believe in the Dave Duncan Effect when it comes to pitchers who joined the St. Louis Cardinals. However, I've never studied the question of what happened to pitchers who left the St. Louis Cardinals. Then again, even if there were such an effect on outgoing Cardinals, its relevance in this case is questionable, for the simple reason that Dave Duncan wasn't the St. Louis Cardinals' pitching coach last season."
This article shows the benefit of having a deep farm system: Kansas City Royals GM Dayton Moore's big gamble, trading Wil Myers to Tampa Bay Rays for James Shields: Ken Rosenthal has inside story - FOX Sports. "Once we put the names up on the board, went through ’em all, saw them there, right in front of you, it opened everyone’s eyes," said Mike Arbuckle, one of Moore’s senior advisors. "It made it easier for guys in the room to say, ‘This is going to hurt. But at the same time, it’s not cleaning the system out. There are more players coming.’"
Cool story, Bro: Bull Pennings: Rock and roll -- and baseball -- never forgets - CBSSports.com. ""Where ya going?" the driver asked. "Detroit," Simmons replied. The driver explained he was headed for Interstate 96, but then he was heading west toward Lansing instead of east toward Detroit. "I'll drop you, and you can pick up another ride from there," the driver said. That settled, Simmons mentioned the drum set and wondered if his ride was a musician. Yes. "What's your name?" "Bob Seger."