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ANGELS FYI

Pitcher Justin Speier says his outburst was born of frustration

Reliever lost his temper during Wednesday's loss but now is contrite.

May 08, 2009|Kevin Baxter

Reliever Justin Speier blamed frustration for the meltdown in the ninth inning of Wednesday's loss to the Blue Jays during which he confronted an umpire, then members of his own coaching staff.

"I was just frustrated I didn't pitch well," Speier said Thursday. "Sometimes it's an emotional game so you just sort of let your emotions out a little bit."

Speier's problems started in the eighth inning when he gave up a three-run home run to Scott Rolen, then hit Rod Barajas with the next pitch, earning a warning from plate umpire Bill Hohn.

Manager Mike Scioscia was ejected for arguing the warning and when Speier came off the mound an inning later -- after giving up five runs and four walks in two innings -- he, too, confronted the umpire. Four coaches, including hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, and at least one teammate tried to intervene, but Speier began arguing with them as well.

"He never told me why he went nuts. He just went nuts," Hatcher said. "I did my job as a coach to try to get him off the field. That's about all there is to be said."

Apparently Scioscia didn't think so because he held a closed-door meeting with the pitcher after the clubhouse had cleared

"We talked a little bit about it," Scioscia said. "Justin's emotional. And it's part of what's given him a very good career. And at times it's part of what sometimes you have to keep contained. I'm not going to talk about anything we talked about. But it's addressed."

Speier may still be on thin ice, however, given both his recent performance -- he was left off the playoff roster last fall after finishing second in the American League with eight relief losses and he's 0-1 with an 8.18 earned-run average in nine games this season -- and his sometimes unpredictable behavior. His situation could become more precarious once the Angels solidify a bullpen that entering Thursday's game was last in the majors with a 7.52 ERA.

"We just talked about baseball. Everything's fine," Speier said of his meeting with Scioscia. "Last night was a night where I let my emotions out. Hey, it's part of the game."

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Making due

The Angels have been without three-fifths of their starting rotation since spring training and without slugger Vladimir Guerrero for more than three weeks. But Scioscia isn't using that as an excuse for the fact his team entered Thursday two games below .500 and in third place in a division they dominated last season.

"We feel we can win games with the team we have right now. We're a little disappointed with where we are. It's never fun to be in a position where you're under .500," said Scioscia, who could get pitchers John Lackey and Ervin Santana as well as Guerrero back next week. "But if you look just pragmatically at what our team's done, there's a lot of positive things happening."

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Minor league news

Outfielder Chris Pettit, left-hander Trevor Reckling and infielder Alexi Amarista were named the organization's players of the month for April. Pettit hit .424 with 18 runs and 13 RBI in 18 games for triple-A Salt Lake and Reckling went 2-2 with a 0.72 ERA in four starts, three at single-A Rancho Cucamonga and one at double-A Arkansas. Amarista, the Angels' defensive player of the month, didn't make an error in 77 chances at single-A Cedar Rapids.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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ANGELS TONIGHT

VS. KANSAS CITY

Time: 7.

Where: Angel Stadium.

On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 830, 1330.

Probable pitchers: Matt Palmer vs. Gil Meche; Saturday: Joe Saunders (4-1, 3.29) vs. Zack Greinke (6-0, 0.40). Sunday: Shane Loux (2-2, 4.30) vs. Kyle Davies (2-1, 5.88).

Update: Palmer was excellent his last time out, holding the New York Yankees to a run and three hits over 6 1/3 innings to beat CC Sabathia. He also retired 14 in a row at one point, not bad for a guy making only his fifth major league start. And the timing couldn't have been better -- with Ervin Santana and John Lackey expected to rejoin the Angels next week, Palmer is competing for what will soon be the lone open spot in the rotation. Meche, bothered by back problems in his final April start, battled through six difficult innings in his last outing to beat Minnesota despite giving up seven hits and four runs in six innings. Meche, who is 7-1 lifetime against the Angels in Anaheim despite a 5.78 earned-run average, hasn't given up a home run in 37 innings this season.

-- Kevin Baxter

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