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Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Scioscia has message for his team

By Mark Saxon

ANAHEIM -- The Angels are holding a media luncheon near Disneyland on Thursday to celebrate the four-year contract extension they just worked out with shortstop Erick Aybar. At this point, they might want to consider an open bar.

The stress level around this well-paid team is on the rise after a 4-8 start.

For the first time, manager Mike Scioscia told his players to stick around for a postgame meeting after a 6-0 loss to the Oakland A's on Wednesday, so he could -- in his words -- "bounce a couple things" off them. After watching former Angel Bartolo Colon pitch with no apparent fear to a lineup that was supposed to scare pitchers witless, Scioscia wanted to deliver a message.

He wouldn't say what that message was, but in comments to the media afterward, the term "grind it out," arose about 15 times. The Angels have scored three runs or fewer five times already, just part of the dysfunction that has dragged a team with $151 million payroll to a brutally slow start. The Angels have played 12 games and they're already six games out.

"The bottom line is, no matter what it is, you keep grinding," Scioscia said. "Two outs, nobody on, you just keep pushing it and and pushing it. Right now, it seems like we're a team trying to search for that offensive chemistry and that identity and we have to find it, because mental toughness is going to be an asset this year.

"We just need to get in that mode."

Colon threw 38 straight strikes before one went just a little bit low to Bobby Abreu in the eighth inning. The veteran seemed to sense that the Angels' lineup is filled with players trying to do too much and he used their aggressiveness against them.

Albert Pujols, who signed a 10-year, $240 million contract to come to Anaheim in December, was 1-for-4 with a single and still hasn't homered, though one ball reached the warning track in center field.

At this point, he fits right in.