Is Arte Moreno blowing smoke about the Angels offer to Carl Crawford?

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From the same L.A. Times article in which the Angels’ offer to Adrian Beltre was reported, Arte Moreno claims that the Angels never made an offer to Carl Crawford. Why? Never had the chance, he says.  By the time they got to talking to him in Orlando last week he had an agreement with the Red Sox. Alternatively, Moreno says, he was too expensive and if they signed him the payroll would have been out of whack and he would have had to raise ticket prices. Really: he makes the argument that an increased payroll would have led to higher ticket prices, as if those prices aren’t set by supply and demand.

Both of these explanations run counter to what ESPN’s Gordon Edes reported last week.  He had two different sources, one claiming that the Angles matched the $142 million offer but did so too late. Another says that all they made was a $108 million offer which was obviously way too light.

Know what it all sounds like to me?  It sounds like the Angels, despite all of their early-offseason talk about wanting to spend big and make a splash, have real payroll constraints that they don’t want to exceed and which were never compatible with Carl Crawford in the first place.  Disingenuous? Perhaps. Or maybe they just misread the market and didn’t figure contracts would be going loco like they have been. A third possibility: they just moved too damn slow. Whatever the case, Angels fans can’t be a happy lot right now, as their primary offseason target now plays for Boston and their secondary target — Mr. Beltre — has not accepted their allegedly big offer yet.

Know what would make this just perfect? If some other team signed Beltre and, wouldn’t you just know it, the Angels matched the offer ten minutes too late. Darn the luck.

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.