ANAHEIM -- Mike Scioscia caught 1,141 games -- and two no-hitters -- in his Major League career with the Dodgers. The great Fernando Valenzuela and Kevin Gross were the pitchers he guided to no-hitters.Scioscia feels the emergence of a new collection of strong arms is a factor in this season's remarkable run on no-hitters. There have been five -- and one highly controversial close call by Detroit's Armando Galarraga -- in the afterglow of the Rays' Matt Garza's one-walk gem against the Tigers on Monday night in Florida. "We're seeing an influx of young power arms coming around, guys like [Justin] Verlander, [David] Price, [Clay] Buchholz, Jered Weaver on our club," Scioscia said. "These young guys are starting to take hold with terrific careers." Scioscia mentioned the Yankees' Phil Hughes, the Blue Jays' Brandon Morrow and the Athletics' Gio Gonzalez among the other young guns on the American League scene, along with the Mariners' Felix Hernandez, the Royals' Zack Greinke and Jon Lester, Buchholz's Boston teammate. Scioscia thinks testing for performance-enhancing drugs could be a factor in creating a more pitcher-friendly environment, while acknowledging that pitchers also were involved in the steroid culture. "It has leveled the field slightly," Scioscia said. He added that he was unaware if a more liberal strike zone is in place than in recent seasons.
Haren 'on track' to make next start
ANAHEIM -- Dan Haren hasn't missed a turn since he moved into the Athletics' rotation in 2005, and he doesn't appear likely to end that streak of 190 consecutive starts now in the wake of getting smoked on the right forearm by a line drive in his Angels debut on Monday night against the Red Sox."He has some stiffness, but he's feeling a lot better today," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of the 29-year-old right-hander, who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday for Joe Saunders and three prospects. "Hopefully, he'll make his next start." That would be on Saturday against the Rangers, the club the Angels are chasing in the American League West.
"If this is as bad as it's going to feel," Haren said, "it should be fine by Saturday."Haren said X-rays taken of the forearm "didn't show anything" and that he "should be on track" to face Texas. He was encouraged by his long-toss session as the Angels got ready to face the Red Sox on Tuesday. Boston took the series opener, pinning the loss on Haren. He departed after getting struck by Kevin Youkilis' liner, having yielded two runs in 4 2/3 innings while striking out eight men. This lifted his season total, D-backs and Angels combined, to 149 K's -- two more than American League leader Jered Weaver was taking to the mound in his duel against old buddy John Lackey on Tuesday night. "I guess I got lucky," Haren said, having been informed by Dr. Lewis Yocum, the club's team orthopedist and medical director, that the liner missed the bone by about an inch. Haren indicated that he felt some initial stiffness as he began throwing but it subsided as he went along, adding that he put a little more into it than he normally would the day after a start.
Scioscia, offense share thoughts
ANAHEIM -- In an unusual development, Angels manager Mike Scioscia and hitting coach Mickey Hatcher assembled their hitters on Tuesday for a meeting designed to bring the offense to life."There were a lot of voices," Scioscia said. "That's what makes for a successful meeting. Guys have a good frame of mind. Some guys are swinging the bat too tight. I don't want to talk about specifics of the meeting, but certainly it's important to get more opportunities, do a better job of moving runners along. Those are the things that have been hurting us the last few weeks. "In this meeting, we were addressing stuff in a lot more detail as a group, so guys understand it's not playing to its potential now. I think after the team meeting guys feel real good about the guys we have. I think they did before [the meeting]." Scioscia said he believes the Angels have the talent in-house to turn on the juice, as they did for a three-month stretch of spectacular offense last season. After breaking out with 5.3 runs per game during an 18-9 June, the offense is producing 3.6 runs while going 8-14 in July. Even that 3.6 figure is misleading, given that 21 of their 80 runs have come in two games. In half of the 22 games this month, the Angels have been held to two or fewer runs. "This offensive success is not contingent on an outside player coming in," Scioscia said. "We have a number of offensive guys who we feel can and will be productive. That [on-base percentage] is where it starts. We're in the middle of the pack in hitting with runners in scoring position, but the volume of runners has been down." Only three American League clubs -- the Orioles, Blue Jays and Mariners -- have a lower team on-base percentage than the Angels' .319. They are fifth in homers but ninth in slugging, indicating there haven't been enough doubles or triples, and they're uncharacteristically low -- seventh -- in steals as a team. "We don't have as much team speed as the last couple years," Scioscia said. "But we certainly have enough to move things along better."
Alberto Callaspo, the Angels' new third baseman, became the seventh player to hit in the No. 2 spot for manager Mike Scioscia when he followed Maicer Izturis in the order on Tuesday night against former Angels ace John Lackey and Boston. Izturis, batting .333 in seven games since coming off the disabled list, assumed Erick Aybar's leadoff spot with Aybar in an 0-for-9 spin. The Angels are 4-2 when Izturis leads off. ... Four of Hideki Matsui's past eight hits have left the ballpark, and he's now 14 homers away from 500 as a professional hitter. He hit 332 for the Yomiuri Giants as Japan's greatest star. Of Matsui's 55 RBIs, 24 have come with two outs. ... Beware of the big bopper: David Ortiz, who homered twice on Monday night and has 21 for the season, is a .350 career hitter with two homers in 20 at-bats against Jered Weaver, who faced his mentor, Lackey, for the first time in the middle game of the series. Lackey beat the Angels, 3-1, in Boston on May 5, going seven innings and giving up one run on two hits and two walks. ... Josh Beckett goes in Wednesday's series finale for Boston, facing Joel Pineiro. From his Yankees days, Matsui (.296, two homers in 27 at-bats) has an extensive history with Beckett. The most troublesome Angels hitter for the right-hander has been Howard Kendrick, who is 8-for-19 (.421) with a homer against Beckett. ... Signed at considerably less expense (two years, $16 million) to replace Lackey in the rotation, Pineiro has been just as effective as the former ace. Pineiro is 10-7 with a 4.18 ERA compared to Lackey's 9-5, 4.36.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.