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Category: Vernon Wells

Angels' Vernon Wells, Howie Kendrick making progress

Kendrick-wells_325 The return of Vernon Wells and Howie Kendrick from the disabled list could happen sooner rather than later judging by the way the two players looked during pregame drills Monday. Both players ran and performed agility drills Monday morning, then hit during batting practice a couple of hours later.

Kendrick, on the DL with a right hamstring strain, is eligible to be reactivated this weekend. Wells, out since May 10 with a right groin strain, is scheduled to continue working out in Kansas City the next two days before being reevaluated. Manager Mike Scioscia said Wells with need a short minor-league rehab assignment before he's ready to return.

A strong wind is blowing out to left field at Kauffman Stadium, evidenced by the long batting practice home runs hit by the Angels' Peter Bourjos.

The lineups

Angels

2B -- Maicer Izturis

SS -- Erick Aybar

LF -- Bobby Abreu

RF -- Torii Hunter

3B -- Alberto Callaspo

DH -- Russell Branyan

1B -- Mark Trumbo

C -- Hank Conger

CF -- Peter Bourjos

P -- Ervin Santana

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Angels LF Vernon Wells leaves game because of groin injury

Lkyp8onc Angels left fielder Vernon Wells was pulled from Monday night's game against the Chicago White Sox in the bottom of the fourth inning because of a right groin strain.

With a runner on third base and two outs and the Angels trailing, 3-0, Wells hit a ground ball to third base. But he only made it a few feet out of the batter's box before stopping and clutching his right leg.

Wells entered the game with a .179 average, but he appeared to be warming at the plate, with three home runs over the past week.

RELATED:

Aybar looks to continue hot hitting against White Sox

Torii Hunter reflects on Mike Scioscia's 1,000th career victory

-- Mike DiGiovanna

Photo: Angels Vernon Wells hobbles to first base after hitting a grounder to third base in the fourth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Anaheim Stadium Monday night. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Angels drop Vernon Wells in lineup

Vernon-wells_235 Scratching Jered Weaver from his scheduled start Sunday wasn't the only lineup change Angels Manager Mike Scioscia made.

Outfielder Vernon Wells, who has hit fourth or fifth all season, was dropped to the No. 6 spot while Howie Kendrick was moved to third in the batting order for the first time. Wells is hitting .174 while Kendrick, with five hits in his last two games, is batting .306 and leading the team with six homers.

"Vernon obviously has not hit stride," Scioscia said of Wells, who is one for eight in the Tampa series. "We need him, but we have some guys who have been swinging the bat better."

One of those is Alberto Callaspo, who also moved up a spot in the batting order to fifth. Callaspo sat out Saturday after going three for four Friday, raising his season average to .303.

As for Weaver, who leads the majors with a 6-0 record, the pitcher said he has been dealing with a stomach virus for two days, losing nine pounds. He needed to leave the stadium at one point this weekend to receive fluids intravenously, and although he said he felt better Sunday, Scioscia decided his pitcher was at too great a risk of dehydration to start. The Angels will check Weavers's condition Monday, when he is tentatively scheduled to start against Boston in the opener of a four-game series at Fenway Park.

He is expected to be opposed by Boston's Clay Buchholz, who also missed his scheduled start Sunday with what was termed "intestinal turmoil."

Rookie Tyler Chatwood will go Sunday against the Rays and Alex Cobb, who will be making his major-league debut.

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Angels' Vernon Wells finds there's no place like home

Ljinminc Vernon Wells takes a modest four-game hitting streak into Tuesday night's game with the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. And home cooking may be just what he needs to keep that alive.

Wells and fellow Texas resident Torii Hunter have been sleeping at home since the Angels got to town Sunday, and although Wells concedes there are some great hotels in the Dallas area, he added "but my house is better."

Wells went 2 for 4 in the series opener Monday and is 6 for 16 (.375) on the road trip. He'll have to go a bit to match leadoff hitter Maicer Izturis, who has had multi-hit efforts in each game of the trip, giving him an American League-best eight games with at least two hits this season. His .391 batting average is second in the league while his 25 hits ranks first entering play Tuesday.

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Dan Haren (4-0) and the Angels stay hot in win over White Sox

Angels1_600

Dan Haren ran his record to 4-0 by holding the Chicago White Sox scoreless through six innings Sunday, pitching the Angels to a 4-2 victory and a sweep of the teams' three-game series.

Haren, who threw a one-hit shutout in his last outing, was almost as good for most of Sunday, striking out four of the first five batters he faced and allowing just three harmless singles through 6 1/3 innings. He retired nine in a row at one point before Carlos Quentin broke the spell with a one-out double off the center-field wall in the seventh. Alex Rios then singled to the infield, marking the first time in 26 innings Haren has allowed two runners to reach base in the same inning.

A.J. Pierzynski followed with a single of his own to score Quentin, snapping Haren's scoreless streak at 18 2/3 innings. Haren faced one more hitter, Alexei Ramirez, who drove in another run with a single to left.

The Angels then turned to a quartet of relievers -- Hisanori Takahashi, Fernando Rodriguez, Fernando Rodney and Jordan Walden -- to get the last eight outs. It wasn't easy, though, with Walden loading the bases on a double and two walks before retiring Juan Pierre on a fly ball to end the game.

By then the Angels had given Haren and his bullpen more than enough offensive cushion. Maicer Izturis got the scoring started by doubling and scoring in each of his first two at-bats. He added a single in the seventh, giving him three consecutive three-hit games and leaving him 9 for 14 in the series.

Mark Trumbo added a solo homer, his second of the season, into the Angels bullpen in right-center in the fourth and Vernon Wells tripled off the top of the center-field wall and scored in the sixth.

The win was the fifth in a row for the Angels, who are 9-2 after losing three of their first four games to start the season.

-- Kevin Baxter, reporting from Chicago

Photo: Angels starting pitcher Dan Haren works against the White Sox on Sunday. Credit: Paul Beaty / Associated Press

A scout's view of Vernon Wells

Wells_275 Angels left fielder Vernon Wells is hitting at a level that is a shadow of his former self, and his performance over the weekend against his former team was indicative.

Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Brett Cecil on Saturday offered a good opportunity for Wells to regain his confidence. Cecil is a garden variety strike-thrower with pedestrian velocity -- exactly the kind of pitcher the Angels are paying Wells to pulverize.

Wells drew a walk in his first at-bat, Cecil pitching around him. In Wells' second at-bat, Cecil -– a nibbler who by then had thrown 47 pitches and whose 86 mph to 90 mph fastball cuts and sinks but is hardly imposing -- threw an 87 mph fastball that Wells fouled straight back.

Near-misses of such pitches are signs of one of two things: bad timing or diminished bat speed. Sometimes both. An honest scout must conclude that Wells presently lacks the loose explosiveness that characterizes the swing of a top hitter.

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Vernon Wells has another forgettable game for Angels

Lgzf6mnc As if Vernon Wells wasn't struggling enough at the plate, going hitless in four at-bats Sunday to drop his average to .100 in his first nine games with his new team, the Angels left fielder made what was almost a very costly mistake in the field in the sixth inning.

The Blue Jays had scored to pull to within 3-1 and had runners on first and second when Jered Weaver struck out No. 3 batter Jose Bautista looking for the first out. Adam Lind then lofted a routine fly ball to left field that Wells easily caught. 

But Wells, thinking Lind’s ball was the third out, ducked his head and began jogging toward the dugout after making the catch. Runners John McDonald and Yunel Escobar alertly tagged up, advancing to second and third, but Aaron Hill popped out to first to end the inning, and the Angels held on for a 3-1 victory over the Blue Jays.

Manager Mike Scioscia spoke to Wells after the game about the mental mistake and hinted that Wells, who was traded from the Blue Jays to the Angels in January, might be given a game off against the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.

"There's definitely a mental tightening I'm seeing with Vernon," Scioscia said. "He wants it. He wants it yesterday. His bat speed is good, but his timing is obviously off. He's going to come out early [Monday] to work with Mickey [Hatcher, batting instructor] and we're going to discuss a couple things with him."

-- Mike DiGiovanna

Photo: Vernon Wells #10 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim poses during their photo day at Tempe Diablo Stadium on February 21, 2011 in Tempe,Arizona. Credit: Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Angels' Erick Aybar undergoes MRI; Rays bench Manny Ramirez

Photo: Erick Aybar. Credit: Charlie Riedel / AP Brandon Wood is in the lineup for the first time Wednesday as the Angels close out their season-opening six-game road trip with an afternoon game with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. But that wasn't entirely by design.

Wood is starting at shortstop because regular starter Erick Aybar spent much of Wednesday morning having an MRI taken of his strained left side. Aybar has felt stiffness in his side since bellyflopping into third base in the eighth inning of Saturday's loss in Kansas City. Results of the test were not available Wednesday morning and Aybar's availability for Friday's home opener is uncertain.

Maicer Izturis, who started in Aybar's place the last two games, remained in the leadoff spot as the team's designated hitter. Also, the slumping Vernon Wells (.136) is making his first start in center in place of Peter Bourjos.

On the Tampa side, Manny Ramirez is out of the lineup after striking out three times in four at-bats Tuesday. Ramirez, 1 for 16 (.063) on the season, will  also miss Tampa's first road game Thursday in Chicago to attend to an undisclosed personal matter.

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Angels Notes: Scott Downs, Kendrys Morales making strides

Untitled-1 Left-hander Scott Downs, on the disabled list with a broken toe, threw 15 pitches in a simulated game, then did some fielding drills early Tuesday afternoon at Tropicana Field. He could make a minor league rehab appearance soon and, if there are no setbacks, could be back in the Angels bullpen by the end of the coming homestand.

Kendrys Morales, out since May with a broken ankle, is also making progress in his rehab. He moved well in a fast-paced fielding drill at first base Tuesday and took part in batting practice. The Angels hope to test his ankle with some straight-line running while in St. Petersburg, but there is no timetable for his return.

Meanwhile, Vernon Wells, who is trying to rehab his batting stroke, was on the field for early batting practice five hours before Tuesday’s game. Wells was 3 for 18 (.167) in the Angels' season-opening series in Kansas City.

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Jered Weaver aims to give battered bullpen a break

Angels fall again in Royals' final at-bat

-- Kevin Baxter in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Photo: (left) Scott Downs and Kendrys Morales. Credit: Charlie Riedel / AP

Angels' Peter Bourjos no longer a one-dimensional threat

When the Angels traded for Gold Glove centerfielder Vernon Wells two months ago, Peter Bourjos figured he was on his way back to the minors. Because while the team loved Bourjos' defense -- so much so, they moved Torii Hunter, another Gold Glove centerfielder, to right field to make room for Bourjos -- the 23-year-old rookie had hit just .204 in 51 big-league games. Then he followed that up with an equally anemic winter, hitting .207 in 24 games in the Dominican league.

Wells, on the other hand, is a .280 lifetime hitter coming off the third 30-homer season of his career.

But the Angels remain committed to speedy Bourjos, who will be flanked by Wells in left and Hunter in right on opening day, giving the team potentially one of the best defensive outfields in recent memory. Still, Bourjos concedes he'll also have to contribute offensively if the experiment is to succeed.

"As long as you’re getting on base and you’re having productive at-bats -- whether it’s moving guys, getting guys in and getting on base and scoring runs -- that’s all part of it," he said. "Obviously you want to hit and have a good batting average. But I think if your outs are productive outs, moving runners, I think that can also be a benefit."

Bourjos has hit this spring, batting .320 in 25 at-bats. But he's also scored seven times, driven in five runs and stole two bases. Plus he's bunting a lot more, a skill that will open up holes in the infield and make him more difficult to defend against.

"I want to make sure that third baseman’s in and the first baseman’s in. And if they don’t come in, hopefully I’m able to lay a good bunt down and get a hit out of it," said Bourjos, a .293 career hitter in five minor league seasons. "I want to be successful at getting on base and scoring runs and stealing bases at a high rate. And then getting in scoring position for the guys to drive me in."

But even outs, the 23-year-old Bourjos has learned, can be productive.

"If you have a good at-bat, a long at-bat, a battle and you get them to throw seven, eight pitches, you wear them down a little bit and maybe he leaves a pitch over for the next guy," he said.

Which is why statistical metrics, such as batting average or on-base percentage, won't be the only thing the Angels will use to judge Bourjos' contribution, Manager Mike Scioscia said.

"If we’re seeing good swings, we’re seeing him hit the ball hard, we’re seeing some of the situational at-bats, we’re seeing him work counts, we’re seeing him contribute offensively, hopefully that’s going to carry over into the season and we’ll see the same thing," he said.

-- Kevin Baxter in Tempe, Ariz.

 

Angels losing the spring in their step

The Angels enjoyed their only off day of the spring Monday -- or at least some of them did.

Left-hander Scott Kazmir was one of about two dozen players -- most of them nonroster invitees to spring training -- who took part in a "B" game with the Colorado Rockies at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Even without that game, though, the Angels have now been in camp for a month, long enough for the newness to wear off. Yet opening day is more than two weeks away, a little too far to grasp just yet.

And that, Kazmir says, makes this among the most difficult times of the spring.

"I can speak for all of us," he said. "We’re ready to get this thing going."

Outfielder Vernon Wells, who spent his off day in Orange County looking for a place to stay during the season, agrees.

"It’s spring training. So every day is kind of the same routine," he said. "But it’s a necessary step to get a jump into the bigger season. I concentrate on that last week, week and a half to start playing every day. So I kind of look forward to that."

When the full team returns to work Tuesday, Manager Mike Scioscia says he'll vary the routine a bit by dropping some of the morning fundamental drills and emphasizing the afternoon exhibition games a little more. But, he said, that's not a concession to the building boredom.

"These guys know what they have to do to get ready for the season. And we’re still in that process," he said. "You don’t see anybody that mentally fried to where it’s affecting anything they’re doing on the field.

"I don’t know [that] we’re seeing any dog days yet. Every spring you start to see that a little bit as you get closer to the season."

-- Kevin Baxter in Tempe, Ariz.

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