Angels offense, pitching depth will be key in 2014

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels will meet next week to discuss the logistics of expanded instant replay and who they'll assign to determine when to use a challenge.

The new rules -- with everything besides obstruction and interference now reviewable, and managers being given no more than two challenges per game -- will undoubtedly introduce a new layer of strategy.

"I think the real challenge is when are you going to challenge," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's going to be times when, even if you're right, it might not be something you're going to challenge if you're going to be naked for four innings. You can be right twice and you're done until the seventh inning. You have to be cognizant of that."

Each manager will start the game with one challenge. If it's upheld, he retains it. But mainly because of pace-of-game concerns, he can't have more than two challenges in a game. And a call can't be reviewable by a crew chief's discretion until the beginning of the seventh inning.

Reviews will be conducted at the Replay Command Center at Major League Baseball Advanced Media headquarters in New York, with two additional four-man umpiring crews hired over the offseason to rotate through and review feeds. Each ballpark will then have a designated communication location near home plate, where the crew chief and at least one other umpire will have access to a hard-wire headset connected to the Command Center.

Teams are allowed to have a club employee monitoring video throughout the game to determine which plays are worth reviewing. One candidate for the Angels is Nick Francona, son of Indians manager Terry Francona, who was commander for a sniper battalion in Afghanistan and was brought in as coordinator of Major League player information.

The Angels don't really have the extra monitors at Tempe Diablo Stadium, but will try to use Spring Training games to get a feel for how they'd use the challenge system.

Asked if managers could turn to replay for the simple purpose of icing an opposing pitcher who's dominating early, Scioscia said: "I'm sure there's a variety of ways you can explore why you would use replay, but I think that people are going to use it for the right reason."

Fans swarm to greet Trout at airport

Jerry Dipoto examines Trout's qualities as a teammate

TEMPE, Ariz. -- How popular is Mike Trout?

He was mobbed before he could even leave the airport and head to Spring Training.

Trout announced via Twitter that he would be flying in from the Northeast to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Monday night. When he landed, he took the escalator downstairs for baggage claim, where roughly 200 fans were awaiting his arrival, lining up against the railing and begging for autographs.

Want proof that the Angels' center fielder may already be the most popular player in baseball? There it is.

"I shouldn't have done that," Trout joked Tuesday morning, right after he was done playing catch and just before leaving for a photo shoot with Nike. "It was crazy."

The 22-year-old Trout -- coming off back-to-back seasons in which he was the runner-up for the American League Most Valuable Player Award -- will address the media for the first time on Wednesday morning, just before the Angels' first full-squad workout.

Wilson sees a more disciplined Angels camp

Outlook: Wilson looks to build on improvements in '14

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels have now gone four years without making the playoffs and they're coming off an uncompetitive 84-loss season. C.J. Wilson believes that's creating a sense of urgency at Spring Training.

"Just the general vibe, the overall median level, is higher this year," the Angels' No. 2 starter said on Tuesday morning. "There's better work ethic; guys are in better shape."

A major focus for the Angels -- perhaps the major focus -- will be performing better out of the gate, and avoiding the woeful Aprils that have crippled their postseason aspirations the last two seasons.

"And we need to start here," Wilson said. "We need to start being competitive in here, like taking some pride out there even if it's just a Spring Training game."

Camp will be different this year, after a Major League-worst 6.56 ERA and .333 winning percentage in last season's Cactus League action. Hitters will be taking a lot more swings, live batting practice will be re-introduced after a one-year hiatus, the situational component will be emphasized from the get-go, and bullpen sessions will be more aggressive.

Wilson wouldn't name names, but he said a lot of guys came into Spring Training out of shape last year, and he believes several of the injuries that haunted the Angels all season -- Jered Weaver's broken left elbow being a clear exception -- were fitness-related. This year, he sees "a general increase in energy."

"It's not any one particular guy," Wilson said. "You just notice that in the weight room there are just more people in there. They're doing more aggressive weight lifting, they're running a little faster in the treadmill, they're eating a little better at the table. You can see it. And that's all it takes. It just takes a little bit of momentum. It's that snowball that turns into an avalanche."

Worth noting

Andrew Romine, out of options and fighting to win the job as the Angels' utility man, gained 17 pounds over the offseason while using the same protein supplement as Josh Hamilton.

• The Angels worked on close plays at home plate for the first time on Tuesday. Major League Baseball plans to outlaw home-plate collisions this season, though the rule has yet to be finalized. The Angels are one of many teams that will be teaching catchers to tag rather than block.