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Angels prospect Trevor Reckling hoping to rebound from 2010 season

Left-hander Trevor Reckling, one of the Angels' top prospects entering 2010, looks to reestablish himself after losing considerable velocity on his fastball and being demoted from triple-A Salt Lake to double-A Arkansas last season.

February 17, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna

Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. — Scott Kazmir isn't the only left-hander in Angels camp looking to reestablish himself.

Trevor Reckling, one of the organization's top prospects entering 2010, hopes to rebound after he lost considerable velocity on his fastball and was demoted from triple-A Salt Lake to double-A Arkansas last season.

"There's a little bit of a mystery there," Manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday. "When a guy goes from 90-91 mph, and he's pitching at 86-87 mph and isn't hurt, the first thing you look for is mechanical issues, and there were some of those."

Reckling's herky-jerky delivery has led to command problems in the past, and he did plenty of tinkering last season. But his biggest problems were above the neck.

"I had a couple of rough games, and that turned into more and more rough games," Reckling, 21, said. "Instead of having one bad outing, they'd multiply."

Some questioned whether the Angels rushed Reckling, then 20, to triple A, where he went 4-7 with an 8.53 earned-run average in 14 starts and had more walks (50) than strikeouts (46).

"No, I was physically ready," Reckling said. "It was the first time I had some adversity, and I got caught up in some things mentally. I'm glad I got the experience now rather than later, because when it comes now, I'll know how to handle it."

Reckling regained his confidence after he was sent back to Arkansas, where he went 4-6 with a 4.81 ERA, 54 strikeouts and 32 walks in 13 starts. In 2009, Reckling was 8-7 with a 2.93 ERA, 106 strikeouts and 75 walks at Arkansas.

Reckling participated in a two-week minicamp for pitchers in Arizona in January, and Scioscia loved what he saw from Reckling during a bullpen workout this week.

"We're seeing an ease to his delivery, and the ball is coming out hot," Scioscia said. "This guy spins the ball well with a terrific changeup. He has the potential to be a terrific major league starter."

Reckling was rated among the Angels' top 10 prospects by Baseball America entering 2010. He dropped off that list this winter.

"That's fine," he said. "It makes me work harder to open some eyes again."

Speed demon

Torii Hunter was in camp Thursday, his body fat down by about 4% and his weight down by seven pounds, which the 35-year-old outfielder predicted would help boost his stolen-base total.

"Those nine stolen bases I had last year? You can add 15 to that," Hunter said. "My body composition is totally different. I feel stronger, and my body has healed from the [2009] groin injury."

Though the Angels rely on Hunter's middle-of-the-order bat for power, he stole 19 bases in 2008 and 18 in 2009. Last season, Hunter was caught stealing 12 times.

The older the 6-foot-2, 222-pound Hunter gets, the more careful he is about his diet, and he tried at least one new thing this winter, eliminating sugar completely for 21 straight days.

"After the first five days, I was shaking," he said. "I was going through withdrawals."

Hunter officially will report Friday with position players, who will go through their first full-squad workout on Saturday.

Call waiting

New reliever Hisanori Takahashi did not talk to Hideki Matsui about the Angels before signing a two-year, $8-million deal with them over the winter, but it wasn't for lack of effort.

"He didn't answer my phone calls," Takahashi said through an interpreter. "He has many numbers that he doesn't know."

What did Takahashi, a 35-year-old left-hander who went 10-6 with a 3.61 ERA for the New York Mets last season, know about the Angels?

"That their uniform is red — they are the red team," he said. "And that Matsui-san was there last year. That's about it."

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