Angels players and coaches in the dugout during Wednesday's game… (J. Meric/ Getty Images )
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Angels were scheduled to have a players-only meeting before Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, hardly a surprise considering the friction and frustration in the clubhouse following Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss, which dropped the Angels to 6-12.
“Sometimes it’s good to get guys together and speak freely as a group and share our thoughts,” outfielder Vernon Wells said. “It’s a good time to talk, to get everyone to relax and enjoy themselves and enjoy the game. We can’t allow everything that’s taken place so far to rob us of what we’re capable of doing.”
Virtually every player in a highly touted lineup has underachieved, and the stagnant offense has provided little or no margin of error for a pitching staff that has often cracked under the pressure.
Manager Mike Scioscia speaks often about the need for offensive “continuity” but has used 17 different lineups in 19 games, and many of his moves involving the bullpen and offense have backfired.
Outfielder Torii Hunter questioned both the heart of the club and its leadership Wednesday night when he said, “You have to dig deep. We have to fight a little harder. I don’t think we believe we’re trying that hard. We’re just going through the motions. We have to do what we’re capable of doing. That’s everybody; not just the players.”
Hunter’s remark seemed to be a veiled criticism of some of Scioscia’s moves, but when asked about Hunter’s comments Thursday, Scioscia said, “Torii has no issue with any strategies. He didn’t come to me with anything.”
Albert Pujols, Hunter and Kendrys Morales, the heart of what was supposed to be a potent lineup, have combined for one home run. The Angels enter Thursday ranked 12th in the American League in runs (69), 11th in on-base percentage (.303), 12th in slugging (.376), last in homers (12), last in walks (41) and 11th in stolen bases (nine).
The Angels seem to be succumbing to the weight of their lofty expectations, but when asked if they were playing “tight,” Scioscia first asked a reporter to describe what “tight” meant.
“If there’s anything with our experience with this group, it’s that guys are maybe trying to get out of an 0-for-20 with a 510-foot home run,” Scioscia said. “Or with a guy on third base and less than two outs, a guy expands his zone because he wants to get the guy in so bad. I don’t consider that tight. I just think that’s trying to do too much.”
The Angels will try to snap a three-game losing streak in today’s series finale against the Rays.
The Angels lineup: SS Erick Aybar, 2B Howie Kendrick, 1B Albert Pujols, DH Torii Hunter, RF Mark Trumbo, LF Vernon Wells, 3B Alberto Callaspo, C Bobby Wilson, CF Peter Bourjos, P Jerome Williams.
The Rays lineup: LF Desmond Jennings, 2B Ben Zobrist, 1B Carlos Pena, 3B Evan Longoria, DH Luke Scott, RF Matt Joyce, CF B.J. Upton, C Jose Molina, SS Sean Rodriguez, P Matt Moore.
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