Jered Weaver didn't exactly expect to be pitching in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, but he wasn't totally caught off guard by it, either.
In just the second relief appearance of his career -- both in the postseason -- Weaver needed just 11 pitchers to retire Melky Cabrera, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter in the eighth inning of the Angels' 7-6 win over the Yankees on Thursday.
"Going in, it was just kind of a just-in-case thing," said Weaver. "And they told me after they started scoring some runs in the seventh, and gave me plenty of time to get loose. It was like a 45-minute inning, so it was definitely enough time to get loose.
"They told me I was up, and the nerves started to kick in, first of all, but once you get out there, it's just trying to locate, and trying to throw everything for strikes. And everything felt good coming out."
Manager Mike Scioscia was asked if there'd been consideration to leaving Weaver in for the ninth inning.
"Yeah, I think we talked about it," Scioscia said. "If it was a one-run game, especially with some of the matchups coming up with Johnny Damon and Tex (Mark Teixeira), we would go with (Brian) Fuentes. If we scored a couple more we were going to let Weav go until we got to the left-handed slot after Alex (Rodriguez).
The ninth: That ninth inning saw Scioscia order a two-out, none-on intentional walk by Fuentes to Alex Rodriguez -- the second such walk in the series.
"In that situation," said Scioscia, "you just want to keep Alex in the park."
While the move has worked out both times, it was a close call this time. Fuentes walked Hideki Matsui and hit Robinson Cano before finally retiring Nick Swisher -- on a full-count pop-up -- to end the game.
"Oviously, it got a little bit too congested at the end," said Scioscia, "but, you know, we just felt it was better to take our chances with some of the guys following him."
Lackey's reaction: Catcher Jeff Mathis was asked for some insight on what John Lackey said to Mike Scioscia as Lackey was replaced in the seventh inning -- a move that didn't work out too well, since the Yankees immediately scored six runs.
"I'm not going to repeat it," said Mathis, "but you know, it's just who he is. Any time he's getting taken out of the game, he doesn't want to come out. That's just him. That's how he is. And, you know, he's a bulldog."
Results tagged “Mike Scioscia” from z_Lassen_All Over the Place
Jered Weaver didn't exactly expect to be pitching in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, but he wasn't totally caught off guard by it, either.
Less rest was no problem for CC Sabathia.
For the second time in the American League Championship Series, the Yankees pitcher dominated the Angels, this time with eight innings of five-hit, one-run ball as the Yankees beat the Angels 10-1 to move within a win of the World Series. And he did it on just three day's rest.
"To be able to shut this club down like he did, again, is no easy feat," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "... For him not to throw a ton of pitches in eight innings" -- 101, 69 for strikes -- "he gave us what we needed."
Sabathia made it look easy, and made it sound that way, too.
"I didn't feel any different at all," he said. "I felt really good. You know, this late in the season, you're feeling healthy ... it's pretty much all the same."
And, as Girardi noted, his economy of pitches was nothing new, either.
"One of the reasons he's been so able to amass so many innings is he doesn't throw a lot of pitches in seven or eight innings," said the manager. "He gives you that almost every time out."
In the regular season, Sabathia was 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA against the Angels, but that pitcher wasn't the same one the Angels are seeing now.
"He's obviously figured some things out in a big way," said manager Mike Scioscia. "That changeup he was throwing the last couple times we saw him wasn't nearly as consistent as it is now.
"I thought that was probably the biggest thing we had trouble adjusting to tonight. He threw it on off counts and had great command of it.
"Game 1 and this game, CC is the story."
No margin for error: The Angels are now a game away from elimination, but Scioscia downplayed their predicament.
"We got beat pretty badly tonight," he said. "It was one loss. That's it. You come out there and gain some momentum.
"I don't think we've had a lead early in the ballgame yet this series. If we can start to play that type of ball, this can change in a hurry.
"Our guys are confident. There is nobody in that clubhouse that is down. We know what's in front of us. We knew where we have to get to, and there's a terrific challenge for us. And our guys ... they're going to be ready to go mentally, for sure."
Hunter's appeal: Angel outfielder Torii Hunter figured in one of the many controversial (read: erroneous) umpiring decisions in Game 4, and perhaps helped convince Tim McClelland into his decision to call out Nick Swisher for leaving third base too soon on a sacrifice fly. Replays indicated he didn't, but Hunter was emphatically yelling to his teammates to appeal to third as soon as he caught the ball and threw it in.
"I kind of saw him move out of my peripheral vision," Hunter said. "That's a big word -- but out of my peripheral vision, I saw a move, and when I got the ball in my hand, he was gone. Something wasn't right, right there.
"I don't know, he might have been on time, but I saw something move and pointed right away."
Hunter than gave an exaggerated wink, and his listeners started laughing.
"No, I did, I saw it," he said. "You have to quote me on saying I saw it. ... You can't use the wink. I have something in my eye."
Then he laughed, too.
Mark Teixeira gained his reputation, and his big Yankees contract, primarily for his big bat, but the first baseman has shown in these playoffs that his glove is no small factor, either. In Monday's 10th inning, when the Angels failed to score after having runners at the corners with no outs, and the bases loaded with one out, it was Teixeira who made all three defensive plays to allow New York to escape the jam.
"He's more than just a guy in the batter's box," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who had Teixeira in his lineup down the stretch a year ago. "... When he's struggling at the plate, he's one of the players in this league that's not going to take a pitch off defensively. He's going to be in every game because it's two separate parts of what he brings.
"I can't tell you how impressed we were just seeing him up close in the couple months we had him last year, just how hard he works on his defense, how much pride he takes in it, and the difference maker his is in a position where it's probably a little tougher to be a difference maker than if you play shortstop, centerfield, catch, second base."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi hasn't been surprised to see Teixeira's defensive prowess, either.
"He's done this all season long for us," Girardi said. "... He had a play earlier in the season where he dove to his right, threw from his knees to throw to home plate and save a run and save the game for us.
"He's a complete player, whether it's defensive, base running, offensive. Thinking, talking about his game, he's a complete player. And his defense has saved us a number of times this year."
Scrutiny: Girardi's use of his bullpen in Monday's 5-4 loss to the Angels was predictably the topic of much second-guessing Tuesday, given that -- as a reporter noted -- the Yankee manager is "under a microscope built by NASA." And so Girardi was asked a number of questions about his use of Alfredo Aceves, who gave up the game-winning double by Jeff Mathis.
"Yeah, you are under a microscope," said Girardi. "But if you manage a game not to be second-guessed, then I don't think you're managing the game correctly. Bringing in Ace, if it doesn't work, I know I'm going to be second-guessed, but I believe it was the right move. We talked about it in the dugout, and I believed it was the right move. It didn't work."
And, he said, he didn't view the move as a mistake even a day later, "because of the preparation.
"I did not have the feeling it was a mistake because of the preparation that we did before the game and our reasoning for using Ace. And the only reason I don't necessarily tell you exactly why I did it is because then you give away a game plan and what you're trying to do to certain hitters.
"I did think about it. You always think about it. But I still feel that it was the move we would have made, and it just didn't work out."
The same guy: One of the reasons Scioscia has become so popular as Angels manager -- beyond the winning part, of course -- is his personality, specifically his sense of humor, which remains firmly in place during the postseason.
During his pregame press conference Tuesday, Scioscia was asked about the intrusive nature of modern media coverage. After saying the presence of cameras didn't alter anything he did, he added, "I will tell you the camera does tend to put a little more weight on you. I know the camera angles can put on 10 pounds. My wife said ... you must have five cameras on you." (When he only received a halfhearted laugh, he added, "You guys don't get that one?")
Earlier in the session, Scioscia was interrupted twice by a reporter's ringing cell phone. There are managers and coaches who would get irritated by this, but Scioscia just joked that the writer was going to have to buy everyone lunch. When he found out the writer was from his hometown of Philadelphia, Scioscia added, "All right, we're doing cheesesteaks then." As the crowd laughed, he added, "You think I'm kidding, but I'm not."
A few postgame notes from Game 3 of the American League Championship Series:
Stat of the night: Before Monday, the Yankees were 3-0 when leading by three or more runs in an ALCS game.
Free pass: Among many interesting strategic moves was Angels manager Mike Scioscia's decision to intentionally walk Alex Rodriguez with two outs and no one on in the ninth inning, with the game tied at 4-4. Conventional baseball wisdom is to never walk the potential go-ahead run, and Scioscia said Barry Bonds was the only person he could recall giving similar treatment.
"You know, the ball was carrying pretty good," said Scioscia, explaining Monday's move. (The six home runs tied an ALCS record.) "Alex can go down and backspin some pitches like nobody's business, and we just wanted to take our chances -- we figured (Jerry) Hairston's was going to hit and go from there."
Scioscia was asked if Fuentes -- who had given up a game-tying home run to Rodriguez in Game 2 -- resisted the decision to walk the Yankee third baseman.
"I think he would have loved the challenge," said Scioscia, "but I think that he was fine with where we were and getting after the next two."
The manager was also asked if he could envision a similar walk decision if the game had been in New York, in which case Rodriguez would have represented the winning, rather than the go-ahead, run.
"I don't know exactly what situation would come up, so I can't give you a definitive answer," said Scioscia, "but absolutely -- two outs if we were in Yankee Stadium and we were in the same situation, we would have walked him."
Getting warm? John Lackey was briefly up in the Angels bullpen in the 11th inning, but Scioscia said there was no imminent plan to bring the Game 1 starter into the game.
"He was just getting a little work in," said Scioscia. "That's it. We were going to let Ervin Santana go as far as he could. ... Ervin threw the ball very well and ... kept those guys off the boards so we could score."
Santana, the losing pitcher in Game 2, pitched one inning to win Game 3, striking out one in a 1-2-3 top of the 11th.
"If it was the 15th inning," Scioscia continued, "you might have seen John, to answer your question."
More from Tuesday's workouts for the Dodgers and Angels:
Playing his Cards: Dodger pitcher Jeff Weaver is in the playoffs for the fifth time, the last time being 2006 when he was with St. Louis, and won the fifth and final game of the World Series.
"Obviously, I have a lot of fond memories of playing there and everything," said Weaver, " but it's a new task going up against them and trying to take them out. Regardless of the team you're on, you're still trying to go out there to win, and despite who you're playing, you're trying to do the same.
"It's kind of funny -- there's only a couple of guys still over there that I played with. It's a whole new team, we're on different teams, and go out there and try to do our job."
That win in Game 5 of the 2006 World Series, he said, is definitely helpful as he returns to the postseason.
"Even the previous experience when I was with the Yankees (in 2002 and 2003) ... obviously the results went the other way, but even those experiences helped me for getting back there with the Dodgers the first time, and a little bit more experience then, and you take it into the next postseason.
"I think that's all you can really do. You're pretty fortunate just to get the opportunity, and you've got to learn from each experience. And hopefully if you get back there again it will help you. I think there's no doubt the experience of being in the postseason obviously helps for in the future."
A house divided: With both Weaver brothers in the playoffs -- the first time that's happened -- Jeff said his parents had decided to take sides: his father, Dave, will follow Jeff and the Dodgers, while his mother, Gail, will follow Jered and the Angels. "I think she wants to go to Boston," Jeff said. "She's never been there."
Finding himself: Chad Billingsley was 9-4 in the first half of the season, earning a spot in the All-Star Game. He was 3-7 in the second half, trying mightily to regain that early form.
"I mean, it's a lot easier said than done," Billingsley said. "The last couple of outings I had to finish up the regular season felt a lot more like my first-half stuff."
Looking back, he has an idea when and how his problems started.
"It was about the all-star break," he said. " I was having a hard time throwing to the left-hand side of the plate, away to a right-handed hitter. And I kind of started forcing my mechanics to go that way, and just doing one little thing that led to some other things. You fly open, you start drifting off, drifting other ways. I moved over to the left side of the rubber to allow myself to be more consistent to that side of the plate, and it just lead to other things. Just trying to do too much."
His last two starts -- a six-inning no-decision at Washington in which he gave up three runs, and a loss at San Diego in which he gave up two runs in six innings -- offered some hope, he said: "I mean, it felt great. I'm not quite there, but it was a step in the right direction."
Manager Joe Torre said Tuesday that Billingsley would be his Game 4 starter. Vicente Padilla will start Game 3 in St. Louis, following Randy Wolf and Clayton Kershaw.
Updates: Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Howie Kendrick would get the start at second base in Game 1 of the series with Boston. "Maicer Izturis is good to go," he said. "He'll get a lot of action in this series, most likely play on Friday. But Howie will play on Thursday."
Reliever Jason Bulger, who left Saturday's game with shoulder stiffness, played catch at Tuesday's workout and "feels much better," Scioscia said. "He'll throw a light bullpen tomorrow. We'll be able to evaluate to see if he's available for Thursday."
In and out: Torre said Ronnie Belliard, rather than Orlando Hudson, would start at second base on Wednesday.
"He doesn't have as wide a range as Hudson does," said Torre. "But I think offensively he's maybe a little fresher right now. We asked O-Dog to do a lot of stuff early in the year. And he played his tail off and continues to do that. But it was just a decision I decide to make, and we'll go day to day right now."
ANAHEIM -- Pretty lackluster game, really -- except for one ground ball in the seventh inning.
From the Angels' perspective, that grounder was about the only memorable thing in a 2-0 loss to Oakland that saw the Angels limited to three hits by Trevor Cahill (seven innings) and two relievers.
It came off the bat of Kurt Suzuki, nearly dehorned pitcher Matt Palmer -- and improbably was turned into an out by second baseman Maicer Izturis, who made a diving stop nearly behind second base, then flipped the ball with his glove to Erick Aybar, who threw to first for the out.
"When those guys are messing around, they practice that a little bit," said manager Mike Scioscia. "Both those guys are talented, they're very athletic. You're just not going to see a better play than that one, and Erick was definitely expecting it."
Indeed he was, said Izturis, because the two of them talk about the possibility of such a play when there's a man on first: "Ball the hole, like a double play, I flip to you," Izturis said. "He was ready. Play in the middle, we was talking."
Izturis, smiling, thought it was one of the best plays of his young career. No one who saw it would disagree.
"Man, that was probably one of the best plays I've seen with my eyes," said outfielder Torii Hunter. "It was shocking, because I didn't expect him to flip it to Aybar. That was a good, heads-up play. It seemed like he was thinking about it when he was running after the ball. ... That was a pretty impressive play."
Otherwise, about the most impressive thing on the night was the work of Cahill, who struck out three, walked two and threw 98 pitches, 52 for strikes.
"He was on his game," said Hunter. "His ball was moving everywhere. The first inning, it seemed like he was all over the place" -- Cahill walked the first two batters, but the Angels failed to capitalize -- "but he settled down.
"The scouting report said to work him because he doesn't throw a lot of strikes, but today he did, and the ball was moving. That's one of the best sinkers in the game. ... Every time you swing, it's under your bat or you're on the top of the ball. It's pretty tough. Us righties today were sacrificial lambs."
Said Scioscia, "He had good action, a good sinker, and we didn't square up too many balls off him."
Cahill's work negated a good outing from Ervin Santana (7-7) -- not quite as good as a couple of the starts preceding it, but still, over the last five starts, he's lowered his ERA from 7.31 to 5.94.
"His last three starts," said Scioscia, "everything's been consistent -- his velocity, his arm speed, the break on his slider. ... Definitely a ballgame that most times we're going to win. We just couldn't do anything offensively."
ANAHEIM -- Back on April 9, the Angels scheduled ceremonies to honor Brian Downing and Chuck Finley as the newest members of the Angels' Hall of Fame, and the first since 1995, when coach Jimmy Reese was honored.
But in the early morning hours of that day, pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed in an auto accident, and the ceremonies and game were postponed.
Both were made up Thursday night, with the pregame ceremonies marking the start of what the Angels want to make an annual event.
"We all feel it's important to keep the Angel tradition moving forward," said manager Mike Scioscia. "We've had some great ballplayers that have played on this field, some hall of fame ballplayers that have played on this field. ... It's special for all of us."
Downing played 20 years in the majors, 13 of them with the Angels (after five seasons with the White Sox and a final two in Texas). Overall, he batted .267 with 275 homers and 1,073 RBIs; as an Angel, he batted .271 with 222 homers and 846 RBIs. An outfielder, catcher and DH, he was for several years an unconventional leadoff hitter -- without the usual speed (he stole 27 bases in those 13 seasons) but with a solid .372 on-base percentage.
"It drove me nuts," Downing said, recalling that role, "but it was best for the team."
Texas came to Anaheim to conclude the 1992 season, and Downing, knowing he was going to retire, asked Rangers manager Toby Harrah to let him lead off for a single at-bat in the final game. He singled, and the fans and members of both teams stood to salute him.
"The absolute highlight of my life," he said. "It didn't come in an Angels uniform, but you can't have everything."
Finley, a first-round draft pick of the Angels in 1985, played the first 14 of his 17 major-league seasons with the club. Overall, the lefthander finished with exactly 200 major-league wins (against 173 losses); as an Angel, he was 165-140 with a 3.72 ERA. His best years were back-to-back 18-9 seasons in 1990 and 1991.
"It has been a wonderful ride to live out a childhood dream and play in such a wonderful place as this," Finley said.
Finley wrapped up his career with two-plus seasons in Cleveland and part of a year in St. Louis, going to the Cardinals in a trade for outfielder Coco Crisp.
"You know your career is going downhill when you get traded for a cereal," Finley told Orange County Register writer Randy Youngman.
Thursday's ceremonies included taped messages from team hall-of-fame members Don Baylor and Nolan Ryan. The other living members of the Angels Hall of Fame -- Jim Fregosi, Rod Carew and Bobby Grich -- were on hand for the 40-minute event, which pushed the start of Thursday's game back to 7:41 p.m.
Call-up time: With the Sept. 1 date for roster expansion just days away -- teams can carry as many as 40 players -- Scioscia said plans to bring up minor-leaguers have been discussed, but he was not prepared to be specific.
"If there's a role for a guy up here we're going to bring him up, and there's some guys that are going to add some depth. ... We'll bring some guys up the first and another group after their (minor-league) season's over."
Adding a third catcher would seem likely, because of the added flexibility it would give the team.
"I don't want to get into speculating," Scioscia said. "But there's some things that we want to add depth right away, when we can on the first. We can speculate that's one of the areas, but we're not going to put any names up there."
The task, said Scioscia, is to bring up enough players to help, but not too many.
"We've been up as high as, I think, 36, 37," he said, "and if there's roles for those guys -- sometimes when you make that transition on the first, you've got three guys on the disabled list, and you need depth until they come back. And then once the players are here, you want to keep them fired up in case you need them again. So you have to expand it a little bit more.
"I don't know if we're going to quite get back to those numbers this year."
Diamond rust: Closer Brian Fuentes had a shaky outing Wednesday against Detroit -- hitting two batters and throwing a wild pitch before nailing down his 36th save as the Angels won 4-2. Since it was his appearance in eight days, Scioscia was asked if rust had been an issue.
"Brian's really a pitcher that does need some feel," he said. "He has a lot of deception in his delivery, needs to be rested at times to have his velocity be at a certainly level that he can get into zones, but he does need a feel for his breaking ball and his changeup.
"He threw a couple of good changeups yesterday, a couple of good breaking balls and then a couple, obviously -- he yanked a fastball for a wild pitch, hit a guy with the breaking ball. Two guys. And that could be part of not being out there for a while.
Torii doin' work.
A few more games like this, and Spike Lee may be rolling out a Torii Hunter documentary.
In the meantime, with the first three-homer game of his 11-year career, the Angels outfielder has a brief notion what it's like to be that Bryant fellow profiled by Lee.
"Today, I felt like Kobe," said Hunter after the Angels' 9-1 hammering of San Diego on Saturday. "When Kobe's in the zone, he's hitting everything, and now I know how it feels. This is my first time. It felt pretty good."
Looked pretty good, too. In four at-bats, Hunter -- now at .321 with 49 RBIs -- laced a line-drive out to right, and hit his 14th, 15th and 16th homers of the season in the third, fifth and seventh innings. He missed a chance to go for a fourth homer when he was left in the on-deck circle as Bobby Abreu made the final out of the eighth.
"He said, 'I was trying to work him (Padres reliever Greg Burke), but it was just a bad day all around,' " Hunter said, recalling his subsequent conversation with Abreu, who also committed the ninth-inning error that cost Joe Saunders his chance for a complete game.
"He was trying his best to get on, but it just didn't work out for me. ...
"I was cheering for him. I was like, 'C'mon baby, get a hit. Stay in there. Foul him off.' I was screaming at him. He was looking at me: 'I'm trying, you know.' ... He's at the plate, cracking me up."
This may have been his biggest day with the bat, but ebullient Hunter has been huge for the Angels all season, as manager Mike Scioscia noted.
"I don't think you can pinpoint one guy and say he's carrying you," said Scioscia, "but what Torii's done so far this season has been remarkable.
"If we didn't have Torii producing like he has been, and all the other things were happening, where Vlad (Guerrero) has been struggling and some other guys have been a little bit soft, we would really be scrambling to get to the level we need to play.
"He's doing everything, from defense to running the bases, to what he's doing in the batter's box, to what he's doing in the clubhouse. I think it's an understatement to say he's an important part to this club. This guy's special, and believe me, we're glad to have him."
Hunter is certainly flirting with a career year -- a career .272 hitter, his best offensive numbers have been a .289 batting average (2002), 31 homers (2006) and 107 RBIs (2007) -- but the world doesn't seem to have noticed outside of the immediate Los Angeles of Anaheim area. Hunter is fifth in the balloting behind Jason Bay, Josh Hamilton, Ichiro Suzuki and Carl Crawford, although only Ichiro (.356) has a better average -- Crawford is also at .321 -- and Hunter has more homers than any of them. (The glaring error in the balloting is Hamilton, who has been injured and is batting just .240 with six homers.)
Not that Hunter is going to worry about it. Not surprisingly, since this truly seems to be an athlete who gets most of the things about his job, he has the whole all-star picture in perspective.
"You know, if it's for the fans, and if happens that I'm one of the guys voted in to play, that's fine," he said. "Other than that, I'm honored if I get there. If not, I go home and play with the kids for three days, let my body heal and see my son play some baseball.
"Either way's not so bad, is it?"
Well, no. And while Hunter clearly was enjoying every bit of the three-homer game, he also knew better than to let it skew his perspective on what he can do, and what he does best.
"Robbing a home run still feels better," he said. "If I could rob three home runs in a game, I would throw a party. All the media, all the fans, everybody is invited. And they get in, free admission."
(Feel free to print that out and save it for future reference, just in case.)
Hunter very nearly got a taste of his own home-run medicine, as the second homer was just barely out of reach for leaping San Diego outfielder Tony Gwinn Jr.
"When he went up," Hunter said, "I thought he caught it, and I put my head down. Then they said home run, so I acted like I knew I hit it afterward. ... When I touched home plate and came into the dugout, I told somebody, 'Only me can rob me.' "
Nobody robbed Hunter of anything Saturday. Home runs, spotlight, enjoyment of the moment, he had all of it.
"I loved this day," he said. "It was a lot of fun."
With Howie Kendrick out, Sean Rodriguez is in.
Trying to shake up a team that was at .500 when it opened its interleague series with the Padres, the Angels sent down Kendrick on Friday and on Saturday welcomed back Rodriguez, the infielder who was leading the Pacific Coast League with 21 homers and 60 RBIs while batting .277.
"Sean will get a little bit of time at second base, sharing some time with Izzy," said manager Mike Scioscia (a Westlake Village resident, as you darned well ought to know by now), referring to Maicer Izturis. "If Izzy can keep being the presence we know he can, we'll try to keep him in there. He's going to need some time off, and I think Sean can complement him there. He's also giving us coverage at short and in the outfield."
Rodriguez, a 24-year-old from Miami, had five stints totaling 59 games with the Angels last season, batting .204 with three homers and 10 RBIs while striking out 55 times in 167 at-bats.
"Last year definitely helps a lot," Rodriguez said of the transition from triple-A to the majors. The key to carrying over this year's success in Salt Lake City? "Don't change anything."
Rodriguez won't be playing every day with the Angels as he was in Salt Lake, but believes the way to deal with that is to "keep working. That's the one thing you can always do. True character when you're not playing every day, and you see how you go about your business."
Scioscia indicated one reason the Angels tabbed Rodriguez over third baseman Brandon Wood (.299, 14 homers, 43 RBIs in 44 games) is that the team didn't want to mess with the success of Chone Figgins, seventh in the AL with a .322 batting average while starting at third.
"I think Chone is very comfortable at third right now," Scioscia said. "If Izzy can give us the offense like he did (Friday) night -- although he doesn't have to go 4 for 4 every night -- the potential's for him to contribute offensively, and I think our defensive alignment will be very strong as it is right now."
See Howie does: Scioscia stressed that the roster change was primarily to get Kendrick -- batting just .231 with four homers and 22 RBIs in 51 games -- "back on track.
"And if Howie starts to attack the ball like he can, he's going to be an attractive option for us to come up and get back in our lineup. ... This is really twofold. It's as much trying to get Howie on track as it is to insert a player that can maybe bring a little more onto the field than Howie was right now."
Other than rehab assignments the last two seasons, it's the first time Kendrick has been on a minor-league roster since 2006, when he batted .369 in 69 games at Salt Lake. He batted .285 in Anaheim that year, .322 in 2007 and .306 last year. But Scioscia tried to paint the demotion as nothing out of the ordinary.
"This isn't odd at all," he said. "There have been scores of players who have come up to the big leagues, had some touches of success, but when you're trying to make that footprint, sometimes it takes more than the first go-round.
"We all anticipate Howie getting his stroke, coming back up here and being the player that we envisioned. But right now, we had to take a little detour than just grinding it out here, which wasn't moving him far enough along at the pace that we feel he can."
Pitching notes: Kelvim Escobar's balky shoulder "feels much better," Scioscia said, and Escobar could begin throwing today or tomorrow. It's still possible he could end up on the disabled list, but Scioscia said the team wants to "him throw first and see where he is, and if he's not far enough along, the DL would only take him to next weekend. But if he's available, we would love to see him in the bullpen some point earlier."
Scioscia was also not yet ready to discuss his pitching-rotation plans for this week, in light of the Angels off-day Thursday. "I kinda have an idea," he said, " but I'm not going to say right now. We're still digesting it."
This is of potential interest to Ventura County fans because of the outside possibility of an intriguing pitching matchup.
If the Angels don't use the opportunity to skip a spot in the rotation, Jered Weaver -- Sunday's starter -- would have his next start on Saturday the 20th against the Dodgers. That's also the next time the Dodgers will need a fifth starter, and with Eric Milton on the disabled list, one of the candidates for that start would appear to be Jeff Weaver. The brothers from Simi Valley have yet to face each other.
Scheduling: If you're planning to attend that Saturday Dodgers-Angels game, please note: Listed as a 1:10 p.m. start for a Fox network telecast, it is now a 6:05 p.m. start and will broadcast locally. The Sunday game in that series will start at 5 p.m. and be telecast by ESPN.
ANAHEIM -- If you're wondering about the most likely scenario for Jered Weaver to pitch in the Angels' playoff series with Boston, think extra innings, or at least the potential for them.
"I think our intent right now," said manager Mike Scioscia, referring to Weaver and Jon Garland, the two starters working in the bullpen for the Division Series, "is to use them if we get in a situation of extra innings, or possibly late in the game on the road where they could take it for a fresh inning and go as long as they could.
"I think it gives us a nice option with those two guys with so much length, to really get matchups early on and not have to save anybody for extra innings."
Scioscia figures Weaver and Garland might need a little more time to warm up than pitchers used to working out of the bullpen, but in the scenario he envisions, "it won't be much of an issue."
Other pregame notes:
-- Although a number of pitchers have done extremely well pitching on just three days of rest in the playoff races, Scioscia doesn't see a return to the four-man pitching rotation that was common as recently as the 1970s -- and was last used by Bob Boone with the 1995 Kansas City Royals.
"I don't think it's any problem going once or twice around a rotation on three days' rest," he said. "A whole season, I think that's going to be a cultural change in where baseball is right now.
"It's going to have to start in minor league development and it's going to have to carry us up to the major leagues if you're going to go that route. There is a reason, I think, teams went to a five-man rotation at some point, and it probably has helped to lengthen some careers. ...
"I think there are very few pitchers in Major League Baseball that could handle that, just for how they've been stretched out and trained for most of their careers."
-- Predictably -- both because it can be significant and because there's no storyline that can't be beat to death in the wait for a series to begin -- much is being made of the injuries to Red Sox players J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett.
Drew and Lowell were both in the Game 1 starting lineup, with Red Sox manager Terry Francona reiterating that Drew, in particular, had looked good in the workout leading up to the series opener.
"I think J.D. had probably his best day in a while yesterday," Francona said. "Mikey Lowell -- I don't want to speak out of turn, but I think he actually did better than we thought."
Which is not to say Lowell is feeling healthy.
"This really hurts, I'm sure it's painful what he's gone through," said Francona. "His willingness to play, he deserves a chance here. ... We're proud of his efforts."
Scioscia, whose own team had injury problems in the postseason a year ago -- Gary Matthews Jr., Vladimir Guerrero, Garret Anderson and Bartolo Colon either played through health problems or missed the sweep at the hands of Boston -- wasn't exactly going out of his way to sympathize when asked about the Red Sox' situation.
"I think at this point, every team is banged up," said Scioscia. "I think what Boston is dealing with, you've got some professional players that know what it's about, and know what they have to do."
Odds and ends as the Angels and Red Sox await the start of their division playoff series (7 p.m. today in Anaheim):
-- Angels starter John Lackey (12-5, 3.75 ERA) is coming off a shellacking, having given up 10 runs in 2 2/3 innings against Texas on Friday. Of course, in his prior start, also against the Rangers, he struck out 12 in six shutout innings.
"I had a good bullpen a couple of days ago," Lackey said Tuesday, "and I'm confident I'll be fine."
Manager Mike Scioscia wasn't too concerned about Lackey or Ervin Santana, who also got roughed up in his last regular-season start.
"We missed spots here and there, and Texas has the type of offense that's not very forgiving if you miss spots," he said. "... I think that if their velocity was down or they were struggling and weren't executing a lot of pitches, you would be more concerned, but they're healthy, they're fine and they're going to pitch well."
Lackey downplayed the significance of being the Game 1 starter -- "I just happen to be going tomorrow" -- but Scioscia did not.
"This is an important game for us to have a guy with not only John's stuff -- he's a had a terrific year for us -- but also his presence and his make-up to go out there. And if he's going to get beat tomorrow, it's going to be because the other team stepped up and hit his pitches and beat him."
-- Scioscia, typically relaxed, had a few good one-liners during his media session.
Asked to compare playing to managing, he said, "It's more impulsive eating when you're manager, I've noticed that.
"This game is about playing it. When you're in your backyard playing with your friends or your brother and you're making up those games, you're the guy that's up in the batter's box in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs that hit the grand slam, not the manager that makes the pitching change that hopefully wins the game."
And when Mark Teixeira was asked about going to college instead of signing with the Red Sox out of high school, Scioscia joked to his slugging infielder, "I'm shocked you graduated high school and went to college. I didn't know that."
Responded Teixeira. "Georgia Tech -- it's hard to get into that place. You only need about a 1,400 SAT."
-- The Red Sox come in with some injury questions. Pitcher Josh Beckett was moved from a Game 1 start to Game 3 because of a strained oblique muscle, and the status of Mike Lowell (torn labrum, right hip) and J.D. Drew (herniated disc) are also uncertain.
Manager Terry Francona offered upbeat reports on all three.
"J.D. looked real good," he said during the Red Sox workout. "I actually thought Mike looked really good -- not that he's done everything he needs to do, but he looked encouraging moving around. And the movement he did do, it didn't grab at him or anything, and that was really encouraging."
Beckett, he said, made a series of throws from 60 and 90 feet. "The ball came out of his hand real well. Everything was encouraging." Beckett is scheduled for a long toss session Wednesday and will throw again Thursday.
Even with all of that, Francona said the team was yet not prepared to announce its playoff roster -- something the Angels set on Sunday.
"We'll go back and have a meeting at the hotel between the staff and everybody," he said, "and we'll probably talk to the players tonight, just so they know for tomorrow."
He has covered the last four Olympics, as well as the World Series, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals, NCAA Final Four and a wide variety of other events.