Angels baseball now 64 percent less annoying

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Sure, they still have the Rally Monkey and Thunderstix, but the Angels got rid of their TV duo of Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler on Tuesday, turning chores over to play-by-play man Rory Markas and color commentator Mark Gubicza.
I’m not going to pretend to know much about Markas, who had been paired with Gubicza doing radio. Gubicza, though, while rather dry at times, seems to be far more in touch with reality than Hudler, who was becoming more of a parody of himself with every passing year.
In Hudler’s defense, his enthusiasm always seemed to be genuine. There are plenty of fakes out there in broadcast booths, but the Wonder Dog was simply being himself. It’s just that his own special brand of obnoxiousness would have worked a lot better in the sideline reporter role, and the Angels might want to bring him back in that capacity down the line.
Physioc, though, brought nothing to the table. When he wasn’t inducing Hudler to repeat a spiel about Angels baseball&#0174, he was getting a play wrong or botching a fact about a player from whatever lesser team happened to be playing the Angels that night.
The amazing thing about Physioc is that there wasn’t even any nepotism involved in his placement. He somehow got his job on merit.
Now, I know it’s not nice to root for people to be fired, but Physioc still has his college basketball duties and I’m sure Hudler won’t be out of work for long. He did play for six teams, after all, and if one of them no longer exists, well, that still leaves four possibilities for future employment.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.