Angels Manager Mike Scioscia talks to Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine before… (Jim Rogash / Getty Images )
BOSTON — Jerry Dipoto dismissed growing speculation that Mike Scioscia's job is in jeopardy, the Angels' general manager refusing to lay blame for what has been a disappointing season so far at the feet of baseball's longest-tenured manager.
"We're 3 1/2 games out in the wild-card race, but you'd think we were in last place," Dipoto said before Thursday night's game. "Quite frankly, it's a distraction. Mike has been the manager of this team for a long time. He has a very long track record that suggests he's qualified. I say, let him do his job."
The Angels, with a $159-million payroll and World Series aspirations, entered Thursday in third place in the American League West, 8 1/2 games behind Texas. The offense struggled for the first six weeks, and the pitching staff has struggled for most of the last six weeks.
But with a 2002 World Series title, five playoff appearances from 2004-2009 and a 10-year contract that, with three mutual option years, runs through 2018 and has more than $25 million remaining, Scioscia's job appears safe.
"I signed Mike long term," owner Arte Moreno told mlb.com last weekend, "and I'm invested in Mike long term."
Dipoto seemed perturbed that Scioscia's job has become an issue for some.
"I'm not going to get involved in any kind of drama," he said. "I'm focused on this season, our players, the staff, and the worst thing you can do is start pointing fingers. There's a sense of urgency. We need to think better, pitch better, play better. That goes for all of us, me and everyone in our organization."
Pujols day to day
An MRI test on Albert Pujols' right calf and knee showed no structural damage, and the first baseman, who was pulled from Wednesday night's game in the fourth inning, is listed as day to day.
Pujols was not in Thursday night's lineup. He received a diagnosis of right calf inflammation, but there was some concern he jammed his knee slightly on a fourth-inning slide into second.
Pujols, who ranks second on the team with 28 homers and first with 86 runs batted in, pulled up on his way to third on Kendrys Morales' groundout and hobbled home on Mark Trumbo's single.
"I feel way better today," said Pujols, who missed only three games before Thursday. "I'm walking better, and I have some strength. Hopefully, it's nothing too bad. I hope it's just day to day."
A loss of Pujols for an extended period would be a huge blow — he has homered in four of eight games, and 18 of his last 26 hits have been for extra bases.
"Hopefully this is something manageable," Scioscia said. "If that was Game 7 of the World Series, he would have stayed in."
The Angels will miss Detroit ace Justin Verlander this weekend in Comerica Park, where the Tigers will start Rick Porcello, Drew Smyly and Max Scherzer. Of course, the Angels missed Verlander in Detroit in July and lost three of four games. … The Sept. 9 game against Detroit at Angel Stadium will begin at 12:35 p.m.