Dan Haren feels “guilty” about poor performance, won’t be surprised if Angels decline option

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Last week Dan Haren got pretty angry when “a source familiar with the team’s thinking” told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that the Angels were planning to decline his 2013 option, saying it was “dumb timing” because the story had the possibility of distracting the team down the stretch.

However, after last night’s start against the Mariners in which he allowed five runs in six innings to take the loss Haren sure sounded like someone who expects to be cut loose just like the unnamed source suggested.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times notes that Haren approached reporters by asking “one last time?” and then went on to say:

Definitely, the thought has crossed my mind. Part of me feels a little guilty because of the way this year went. If I would have had my average year, we’d probably be where we want to be. I’m not looking to break the bank, I’m not looking to sign a Zack Greinke deal. I’m looking for whatever is fair. I’ll have to see what happens. Players work hard to get to free agency. I’ve played nine years, and if I become a free agent, it would be stupid not to take advantage of that.

Haren indicated that he’d be open to re-signing with the Angels at a lesser annual salary, but actually hitting the open market and fielding offers from multiple teams has a tendency to make that less appealing for most free agents in his situation.

In past years the Angels choosing a $15.5 million option over a $3.5 million buyout would be a relatively easy decision, but as a 32-year-old with back problems coming off a season in which he posted a 4.33 ERA they may feel that money would be better spent on keeping Zack Greinke long term.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.