Make no mistake: the Angels are looking at Friday’s promotion of top prospect Mike Trout to the majors as a short-term fix. The plan is for the 19-year-old to help out this weekend and then return to the minors if the hamstring injury suffered by Peter Bourjos last night proves as minor as hoped.
The only way for Trout to change that is to have the weekend of his life and to convince the Halos that they’re much better off with him than they would be without. Trout possesses that kind of talent; he’s hit .324/.415/.534 as a 19-year-old in Double-A.
Still, it’s going to be a tough sell. Bourjos is the Angels’ lone outfielder not making a boatload of money, and he’s exceeded expectations offensively this season while playing center as well as anyone in the majors. Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter have both been big disappointments, but Wells finally found his stroke last month and it’s hard to imagine the Angels sending Hunter to the bench.
There is one route the Angels could go, but it’d be a big risk: they could release Bobby Abreu. Abreu is getting on base 40-percent of the time as the team’s primary DH, but he has just three homers and 35 RBI in 85 games. Of course, he’s been more productive than Wells or Hunter, but unlike those two, he has no defensive value at all.
Still, the real reason for the Angels to consider releasing him is that he’s 74 plate appearances away from having his $9 million option for next season vest.
If the Angels did cut him, they’d most likely face a grievance and it’s possible they’d end up paying him that $9 million anyway.
Plus, Abreu still has value, even if he’s not worth $9 million per year anymore.
So, Abreu will likely stick and Trout will probably head back to the minors next week and stay there until Sept. 1 or one of the aforementioned players lands on the DL.
But it would be fun to see him force the issue.
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.
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.