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Angels' Mike Butcher says pitchers 'need to be more in attack mode'

ANGELS FYI

Pitching coach whose team has a major league-worst ERA doesn't work in fear of losing his job. 'We can definitely pitch better than we've shown,' he says.

April 17, 2013|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher's starting rotation has an earned run average of 6.07, the worst in baseball.
Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher's starting rotation has an earned… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)

MINNEAPOLIS — Mike Butcher is aware of the chatter. The pitching coach knows there are legions of fans who look at the Angels' major league-worst 5.43 earned-run average and think he should be fired. He also knows people above him in the organization might feel the same way.

After hitting coach Mickey Hatcher was fired last May in the wake of the team's sluggish start, who's to say the Angels wouldn't make a similar move with Butcher if the pitchers continue to struggle?

"It doesn't bother me, not at all," said Butcher, when asked before Wednesday's rainout whether Hatcher's dismissal, the first off Manager Mike Scioscia's coaching staff in 13 years, made him feel less secure about his job.

"It's not going to make me do my job any different or make me feel any different. I'm very confident in what I do. I will not doubt any move we've made as a group. I don't coach to protect myself. I don't work in fear of losing my job."

Butcher, in his seventh year as pitching coach, wants the starters in a rotation with a major league-worst 6.07 ERA to approach their jobs the same way. Some have pitched tentatively, the 10 two-strike hits the Twins got off starter Jason Vargas and reliever Jerome Williams Tuesday night serving as a good example.

"We need to be more in attack mode," Butcher said. "It's almost like we need to take the hitter out of the equation. Be who you are, know what you can do with the baseball, execute pitches, be aggressive, control counts and put hitters away.

"Right now … we're not controlling counts like we should. When you're behind on the count, it's a lot more difficult to put hitters away because you're always trying to get back into the count."

None of the pitchers the Angels acquired over the winter — Joe Blanton (0-3, 8.59 ERA), Tommy Hanson (1-1, 6.55) and Vargas (0-2, 6.75) — have made good first impressions, but Butcher remains optimistic.

"We can definitely pitch better than we've shown," he said. "The biggest thing is to stay positive, focused. You want to see guys perform to their capabilities, not the expectations of others. We will persevere. We'll come out on top."

Pitching plans

Scioscia said he would keep the pitching rotation intact for this weekend's home series against Detroit, meaning Hanson, who was scheduled to pitch Wednesday, will start Friday, followed by Garrett Richards and C.J. Wilson.

There was sleet and snow along with rain Wednesday, and a makeup date has not been set. Both teams are off Thursday, but the forecast calls for more rough weather.

The most likely date for a makeup game is Sept. 9, an off day for both teams and the day before the Angels open a three-game series at Toronto. The Twins will be in the middle of a homestand.

Short hops

Third baseman Alberto Callaspo, sidelined because of a right-calf injury, continued to feel tightness when he tried to run for the first time since hurting the leg against Oakland on April 11. The Angels will make a decision by Friday whether to put Callaspo on the disabled list. … Reliever Kevin Jepsen, initially diagnosed with a triceps strain, has a strain in the back of his shoulder but he is not expected to be sidelined any longer than his 15-day DL stint.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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