Angels making defense a high priority

first_imgTEMPE, Ariz. – Physical examinations will be performed today for Angels position players, who also need to make sure their gloves are in proper condition. The Angels were the worst fielding team in the American League last season, committing 124 errors for a .979 fielding percentage. The miscues led to 80 unearned runs after the Angels led the league in that category in 2005 with just 45 unearned runs. Fielding will no doubt be a priority in this camp as the first full-squad workout is set for Tuesday. The most notable change will be the larger glove used by Chone Figgins as he tries to overcome fielding issues at third base. Figgins had 16 errors last season, 10 of which came in 34 games (2801/3 innings) at third. “I’m very comfortable with the system and with what (fielding coach Alfredo Griffin) does with the infielders,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ve got some work to do because we’re going to have different chemistry on the infield with rookie (Howie) Kendrick at second, Figgy at third and (Casey Kotchman), Kendry (Morales), (Robb) Quinlan or (Shea) Hillenbrand at first.” Even though defense will be a priority, there are no plans to add additional drills. “There’s nothing more we can do to pound these guys with it,” Scioscia said. “Obviously we need to do things better on the defensive side. The solution comes in different forms and hopefully this year it will be with the addition of (Gary) Matthews (Jr.), with Figgy getting comfortable at third base and stability at first base.” A return to the type of defense the Angels played in 2005 just might be the difference in advancing to the postseason. “Defense certainly had an impact,” Scioscia said. “The number of unearned runs we gave up was off the charts. center_img “But if we had played erratic defense (and) hit anywhere near where we should have the first month and a half, it could have been a different outcome.” Matthews made his first appearance in camp and already is feeling right at home. “I’ve been playing in this division for a while now,” Matthews said. “I already know these guys and know the players here and the personnel. It’s really like coming in and getting ready to go.” The San Fernando Valley native was worried that returning to the area might be a distraction, so he took some precautions. The first was to move to Southern California during the winter so that the start of the season would not also be his homecoming. Jered Weaver and Bartolo Colon played long toss with each other from about 120 feet, although they are on much different return paths. “Jered was very encouraging,” Scioscia said. “He feels good. We’re moving forward with him but it will be tough to say when he might be on the mound.” Former umpire Steve Palermo will be in camp today for a morning meeting as the Angels are kept abreast with rules changes, the first in baseball since 1996. The most talked about change is that a position player now will be suspended 10 days for intentionally scuffing a baseball. Games delayed by rain that are tied after five innings no longer will be replayed but will be resumed from the point they are stopped. Players are not allowed to step into a dugout to catch a foul popup but still can reach into a dugout. In another change that likely has its roots in the 2005 American League Championship Series involving the Angels, a batter can advance to first base after a dropped third strike only if he hasn’t left the dirt area around home plate in any direction other than up the first-base line. doug.padilla@sgvn.com (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2731 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *