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Baserunners picking on Angels' pitchers

Pitching coach Mike Butcher says pitchers need to be quicker to the plate.

July 02, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

ARLINGTON, TEXAS — The Angels are known for their aggressive baserunning -- they ranked second in the American League with 76 stolen bases entering Wednesday night.

But they haven't done a very good job controlling the running game of opponents, a trend that had pitching coach Mike Butcher a little agitated after the Rangers stole five bases, including four by Elvis Andrus, Tuesday night.

"There needs to be better awareness in the game," Butcher said. "We can't just let guys run on us at will."

Mike Napoli has thrown out only seven of 47 base-stealers, and Jeff Mathis threw out seven of 30 entering Wednesday, but Butcher doesn't pin most of the blame on the catchers.

A good time from the pitcher's first leg movement out of the stretch to when the ball hits the catcher's mitt, Butcher said, is between 1.3 and 1.35 seconds. Times for many Angels pitchers, starters and relievers, have been between 1.6 and 1.7 seconds.

"We're not giving our catchers a chance to throw anyone out," Butcher said. "We have to do a better job of holding guys on. You can't just give the guy a base. Little things like that frustrate you, because a guy steals second, and he scores on a flare.

"For some guys, it's been an issue all season. It's been addressed several times as a team. It needs to get better. It's something you can control."

The answer, Butcher said, is not in the slide-step.

"We don't want guys slide-stepping," Butcher said. "For us to have a time of 1.1 or 1.2 seconds to home is counter-productive because you're not going to be able to command the ball like you want to. A 1.3 gives you enough time to load up, throw a quality pitch and give catchers a chance to throw somebody out."

Rotation intrigue

Manager Mike Scioscia said before Wednesday night's game that Ervin Santana, on the disabled list because of an inflamed triceps, would start Friday against Baltimore and that Matt Palmer "is most likely going to start" Saturday night against the Orioles.

The choice of Palmer over Sean O'Sullivan seemed peculiar because although Palmer is 7-1 with a 5.16 earned-run average, the right-hander has a 7.36 ERA in his last four starts, in which he has given up 18 runs and 33 hits in 22 innings. O'Sullivan is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts.

The move could have been seen as indication the Angels were preparing to package O'Sullivan in a trade for a starting pitcher. The team reportedly has approached Arizona about right-hander Dan Haren, who leads the National League with a 2.19 ERA and is signed through 2012 with a reasonable $33.75 remaining on his contract.

But after Palmer threw 26 pitches in two innings of scoreless relief Wednesday night, Scioscia said O'Sullivan would start Saturday, with Palmer remaining in the bullpen.

Catch of the day

The Angels have signed their other first-round draft pick, outfielder Michael Trout of Millville (N.J.) High, for a reported $1.21-million bonus.

Trout, the 25th pick in the June draft, hit .531 with 18 home runs and 45 runs batted in. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder will report to the Angels' Arizona Summer League team in Tempe, where the team's other first-round pick, Randal Grichuk, is playing.


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