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Wednesday Halolinks: Will hot spring carry over for Angels?

The Angels won their seventh straight yesterday. Let's hope they can remain hot when the season finally opens.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

We fans have watched as the Angels begin the past two seasons with weak starts. Two years ago, their slow start was what doomed the team and was the main reason they missed the play-offs. The club dug themselves a hole which it seemed like they could never get out of. Last year their slow start was just a preface to how the season was going to play out as the team was never in the race. I realize it's just Spring Training, but the Angels won their seventh in-a-row by beating the Cubs 8-4 on the road. Sure, it took a ninth inning rally by many players who will not be on the major league roster, but it still was a team win. Something this club hasn't had too many of before the month of May.

  • Today's game is the last Arizona Spring Training game of the year for the Halos. Is it just me, or did that go by really fast? Ian Stewart's homer sparks Angels' six-run ninth to top Cubs - "The Angels wrap up Cactus League play in Phoenix on Wednesday, with No. 2 starter C.J. Wilson getting his sixth spring start against the A's at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Wilson sports a 2.49 ERA in 21 2/3 innings this spring, walking eight batters and striking out 28. All of the everyday players will be taking part in a workout at Angel Stadium on Wednesday, in anticipation for the three-game, exhibition Freeway Series against the Dodgers, but Hank Conger will stay back to catch Wilson."
  • One of the guys on the Halos Heaven staff recently spoke to a MLB scout, and one of the subjects to come up was Hank Conger. Here's what he had to say, "Last week I bumped into a Ray’s scout, one of the west coast scouts for the Rays. He was in Arizona looking at Conger for the Rays. According to him, the Angels have been doing everything they can do to dump him. No one wants him. According to the scout, he’s rated athletically as one of the most deficient catchers in MLB. He was explaining to me about pop up times and his reaction, amongst other minutia that left my head spinning. Apparently he is terrible." This really surprised me as I've come to think of Conger as a good catcher, and have even read he's one of the best pitch-framers in baseball. Maybe this is why the Angels are trying him out at first base: Conger gets game action at first base - "Conger has sparingly taken ground balls at first base the last two years and saw his first ever game action there while playing the last two innings on Monday. He joins designated hitter Raul Ibanez (two regular-season innings at first base since 2005), right fielder Kole Calhoun (40 professional games since being drafted in 2010) and potential backup infielder Ian Stewart (zero career Major League games at first) as potential backups to Albert Pujols."
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    • See what happens when Grant Green shaved off his porn-stache...Utility man McDonald earns roster spot with Angels - The Orange County Register. "He showed us this week that he’s a piece that can definitely help us on the defensive side," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He’s a magician with the glove. He’s really showed well at shortstop recently, and that’s something to put a lot of weight on." This spring, though, he also hit .321. A career .235 hitter, he said he has tweaked his approach." That's one bench spot taken, leaving one more depending on how many relievers the club decides to keep.
    • Now Lyle Spencer is just trolling us: Lyle Spencer: Angels's veteran Howie Kendrick's sole focus on winning - "If you believe that the inability to win a batting crown or seriously challenge for one makes Kendrick an underachiever, he'll smile and tell you, respectfully, that you're entitled to your opinion. But it won't impact him in any way." Just because one of Howie's nicknames on HH is "Future Batting Champ" doesn't mean we don't appreciate him.
    • That's an interesting take on why the Angels felt like they could safely deal Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo: 2014 AL West Preview - Grantland. "Calhoun hit .282/.347/.462 in 58 games last year, and his rise enabled the Halos to flip center fielder Peter Bourjos for third baseman David Freese in a deal widely panned by statheads who placed more value on Bourjos’s speed and defense than on the tight third-base market. Still, Freese should be a big improvement over Alberto Callaspo and the other players who saw time at third for the Angels last year. Calhoun, entering his age-26 season and with big minor league numbers (.317/.402/.541) that look good even on a park-adjusted basis, could wind up being responsible for improving the Halos at two positions this year."
    • Another team preview: Angels hoping it's time to reach their potential - Yahoo Sports. "April might be the most important month of the Angels' season. They got off to miserable starts in each of the last two years, forcing them to play catch-up all summer long. Another slow start might be the end of Scioscia or Dipoto, and the Angels realize they can't dawdle in their playoff chase. ''We've got to have better starts,'' Trout said. ''The last two years killed us. We've got to figure out a way to prepare ourselves to come out in a hot streak. I've always told myself and everybody that the first couple of weeks of the season can make or break your season.''
    • Tome Verducci talks about the 2014 Halos:
    • If the Angels can't finish above the A's, I'll lose all faith in them forever (not really). But seriously, who can think a team is a playoff contender when they have Alberto Callaspo as their first baseman: A's to use Callaspo in first base platoon - CSN Bay Area. "Callaspo, a utility infielder who played mostly second base last season for Oakland, has been playing first base this spring for the first time in his career. He admittedly was unsure of the idea early in camp, but infield coach Mike Gallego has worked with him extensively at the position. Callaspo obviously has picked it up well enough for the A’s to feel comfortable playing him there in a platoon."
    • It's getting better all the time...better...better...Neftali Feliz optioned to Triple A Round Rock - Texas Rangers News and Videos. "Feliz, who had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in August 2012, had a 4.50 ERA over nine Cactus League appearances. He reached 95 mph a couple times, but mostly sat in the 90-93 mph range. It was a surprise development after he reached 97 mph in winter ball."
    • Can't buy me love...Los Angeles Dodgers top spender, end New York Yankees' 15-year run - ESPN. "The Dodgers are ending the Yankees' 15-year streak as baseball's biggest spenders and as of Tuesday had a projected payroll of $235 million, according to study of all major league contracts by The Associated Press. New York, which last failed to top the payroll rankings in 1998, was a distant second at $204 million. After that, it was another huge gap to Philadelphia at $180 million, followed by Boston at $163 million and Detroit at $162 million. Houston is last at $45 million, up from $27 million at the start of last year, and Miami at $48 million remains 29th."
    • I love this kind of stuff, especially as a father: Indians broadcaster Tom Hamilton watches son debut vs. Reds - "It was a feel-good moment for Hamilton, not only because it was his first taste of the big leagues, but because his father, Tom Hamilton, was watching from a booth at the field. The elder Hamilton, who has called Cleveland games for 25 seasons, did not take part in the broadcast on this afternoon."
    • This is pretty cool: Anatomy of a Pitch - ESPN. "The interactive anatomy of 7 different MLB pitches"