Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher is on the hot seat

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Craig Calcaterra wrote yesterday about how manager Mike Scioscia’s job is probably safe despite the Angels’ recent struggles, but the same isn’t necessarily true about pitching coach Mike Butcher.

For one thing coaches tend to get the ax first–hitting coach Mickey Hatcher was fired in May–especially when the manager involved has been with the team for such a long time. And for another thing the Angels’ pitching staff has mostly been a mess.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times asked Butcher about fan criticism and the perception his job could be in jeopardy, and Butcher replied:

I’m not going to defend my job, because I know how good I am. I know what I bring to the table every day. I know I get these guys prepared. They work every day. Nothing is going to change the way I go about preparing the guys.

I’m always looking to improve, but as far as worrying about myself? I’m not. These last few weeks have been rough. We’re not pitching to our capabilities. Obviously, it shows. It’s never been about me when things are going good. When things go bad, you take it personal.

Scioscia also stuck up for Butcher, who’s been his pitching coach since 2006.

Before the All-Star break the Angels had the second-best ERA in the American League at 3.61, but since the All-Star break their staff ERA is a league-worst 5.58.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.