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ANGELS FYI

Angels' Kevin Jepsen wants swagger of a closer

Angels relief pitcher Kevin Jepsen builds on suggestion from former Angels star closer Troy Percival.

March 11, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen, left, listens to catcher Hank Conger during a spring training game against the Milwaukee Brewers on March 5. Jepsen understands he needs to develop a more assertive attitude if he wants to become a closer in the future.
Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen, left, listens to catcher Hank Conger during… (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press )

Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. — — Nice guys, Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher once said, finish last. But what they don't do, says former Angels closer Troy Percival, is pitch last.

Which is why Percival, the Angels' franchise leader in career saves (316) and appearances (579), says right-hander Kevin Jepsen needs to develop a bit of a swagger if he wants to someday compete for the closer's job.

"Jepsen throws hard, good breaking ball. [But] he's going to need to get a little more assertive on the mound and attack," Percival said.

It's a suggestion Jepsen, a notoriously nice guy, is already taking to heart.

"You don't realize how much just having an attitude out there on the mound makes a big difference," he said. "The demeanor you have out there on the mound sets a tone for everything. I'm going to apply it and have a whole different attitude when I'm out there pitching and see what happens."

Jepsen, targeted for a setup role in the bullpen this year, has had scoreless outings in two of his three spring appearances.

Morales update

Kendrys Morales ran comfortably for a second consecutive day and Manager Mike Scioscia says he remains on track to make his spring training debut at the end of the next week.

Morales, who is trying to come back from a broken ankle that ended his 2010 season in May, is running straight ahead but Scioscia said he will slowly begin to incorporate turns into his workouts before progressing to normal baserunning drills.

"He's getting there," Scioscia said. "We still target seven days or so to get him in a game."

That would give Morales as many as 12 exhibitions to prepare for the March 31 season opener in Kansas City.

Minor changes

Nonroster infielder Jean Segura had two hits in Friday's win over the Diamondbacks, lifting his average to .286 in a spring that has won him admirers.

"He's a really interesting kid," Scioscia said of the Dominican native, who turns 21 next week.

Segura has played second base in his four minor league seasons, batting well above .300 at every stop. This spring, however, the Angels have been trying him at shortstop.

"He's a great prospect and is really a terrific second baseman. But he has the skill set to play shortstop," Scioscia said. "We'll see how he progresses."

Segura, the Angels' No. 3 prospect according to Baseball America, played most of last season at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and will probably start this summer at Class-A Inland Empire.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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