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J.B. Shuck makes one of the great catches in Angels history

But Scioscia says J.B. Shuck's robbery of Jose Bautista's home run still ranks behind Mike Trout's full-sprint grab last year.

August 03, 2013|By Lance Pugmire

The day after one of the greatest catches in Angel Stadium history, the discussion Saturday was if it was the best ever by an Angel.

Manager Mike Scioscia said no, ranking J.B. Shuck's fourth-inning robbery of Jose Bautista's home run — in which the outfielder tumbled into the stands over the left-field wall — behind Mike Trout's full-sprint, high-leaping grab of a J.J. Hardy fly over the center-field fence in Baltimore in June 2012.

"I've got to go with Trout's, just for the distance he covered," Scioscia said. "J.B. got to the ball quicker and got a little more settled. Mike was basically on a pure sprint when he caught that ball."

Neither showed any consideration for the approaching wall.

"They laid it on the line for sure," Scioscia said.

Neither Shuck nor Trout would say they thought their own catch was better, each calling the other's "unbelievable."

"I thought there was no way he was catching it, and then when he came up with it while going over the wall. … The timing was key for both of our catches," Trout said.

Shuck said he processed many thoughts during the effort, believing first he would land on top of the wall before experiencing "that falling feeling, knowing you're not coming back. … I didn't know where I'd land, but I didn't end up with popcorn or any hot dogs on me."

Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun said it was the best catch he's ever seen in person.

"Robbing a home run, diving into the stands, big moment in the game … you don't get to see that stuff," Calhoun said.

"That was just what this team needs. Nobody is giving up on this season. That's what we have to do — go out and play hard."

Shuck hurriedly left the crowd, actually stepping on a fan's stomach for leverage.

"I didn't know about the one-base rule," allowing Toronto's Maicer Izturis to advance just one base with the fielder falling out of play, Shuck said. "So I was in panic mode to get back up.

"It was pretty neat. The best part was seeing the reaction of my teammates, the fans, the guys on the bench."

Important stride

Sidelined starting pitcher Jason Vargas threw 50 pitches in a three-inning simulated game Saturday, reported no discomfort afterward and remains on track for a minor league assignment, perhaps by next week.

Scioscia said the left-hander Vargas, on the disabled list since June 18 because of a blood clot in his left armpit area, will be evaluated Sunday and "we'll see where it is."

Vargas was 6-4 with a 3.65 earned-run average when injured.

"His stuff looked good," Scioscia said. "He brought on the changeup and breaking ball as he got into it."

Release and catch

Catcher Chris Iannetta said his Friday standing as the first Angels catcher in more than 10 years to throw out three would-be base stealers in a game was due to pitcher Tommy Hanson's improvements in quickening his delivery.

"He did a good job of getting me the baseball in a timely fashion," Iannetta said. "When that happens, my job's easy. When I don't have to rush, I know I have a chance to throw guys out."

Hanson began the season with a delivery Iannetta described as "slow … four, five guys were stealing off him a game," but "he's put a lot of hard work in and that's the byproduct.

"If they give us good times to the plate, we'll throw guys out."

Prospect promoted

Mark Sappington, the Angels' top pitching prospect, was promoted from Class-A Inland Empire to double-A Arkansas on Saturday.

The 6-foot-5 right-hander, a 22-year-old 2012 fifth-round draft pick, was 11-4 with a 3.38 ERA for Inland Empire, striking out 110 in 130-plus innings.

"He's earned it, has made adjustments to fastball grip that have improved consistency with action and command," Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto said in a text message. "Steadily improved consistency with both the" slider and changeup. "Having a nice first full season and is prepared for the next challenge."

Twitter: @latimespugmire

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