Angels hope youth is not wasted on the young Monday night
Mike Scioscia probably has batteries lying around the house that are older than the one the Angels manager will throw out there Monday night against the Cleveland Indians.
Tyler Chatwood, a 21-year-old right-hander who has thrown ony 6 2/3 innings above the double-A level, will make his major league debut in Angel Stadium against an Indians club that has won seven straight games. Behind the plate will be 23-year-old Hank Conger, who has all of 16 games of big league experience.
"There's a talent level on the field, and sometimes it's young guys who are very, very talented and sometimes it's guys who are playing at a high level because of experience," Scioscia said, when asked if he had any trepidation about such an inexperienced catcher handling a pitcher with no big league experience.
"I don't think the age matters. These guys are ready for the challenge. Hank has done a good job with any pitcher he's worked with. And I think Tyler will pitch his game, and hopefully the results will be what we're looking for."
Chatwood is a former Redlands East Valley High standout who was a second-round pick of the Angels in 2008. His fastball is firm, in the 90-93-mph range, and he has a very sharp overhand curve. He made four big league apperances for the Angels in spring training, going 1-0 with a 7.36 earned-run average, nine strikeouts and three walks in 10 innings.
"He's a makeup guy," Scioscia said. "If he's going to get beat, it's not going to be because he is intimidated or trying too hard. He's going to pitch his game. His talent is real. His opportunity might have come a little earlier than what he and some people expected, but we feel he's ready for the challenge."
If Chatwood earns the victory tonight, he would be the second-youngest pitcher to win his major league debut since 2000 behind Scott Kazmir, who was 20 years and 212 days old when he beat Seattle on Aug. 23, 2004, while pitching for Tampa Bay.
The only Angel ever younger than Chatwood to win his debut was Rickey Clark on April 22, 1967, at Cleveland when he was 21 years and 32 days old.
The Angels lineup for tonight: SS Maicer Izturis, 2B Howie Kendrick, DH Bobby Abreu, RF Torii Hunter, LF Vernon Wells, 3B Alberto Callaspo, 1B Mark Trumbo, C Conger, CF Peter Bourjos, P Chatwood.
The Indians lineup: CF Michael Brantley, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, C Carlos Santana, DH Travis Hafner, 2B Orlando Cabrera, LF Austin Kearns, 1B Matt La Porta, 3B Jack Hannahan, P Mitch Talbot.
Photos: Tyler Chatwood, left, and Hank Conger. Credit: Charlie Riedel / Associated Press