Los Angeles Angels: Yankee Stadium

Jerome Williams battles case of nerves

April, 15, 2012
4/15/12
12:39
PM PT
It would be one thing if Jerome Williams were just facing the New York Yankees for the first time in his career.

It would be manageable if he were simply making his Yankee Stadium debut. But did the game have to be at prime time on ESPN, and did it have to coincide with Jackie Robinson Day? All of it put together had Williams feeling "anxious," in his own words, about making his season debut tonight.

"Just the magnitude here and the significance of the day, too, it's pretty nerve-wracking," Williams said. "I've got to calm my nerves down and go out there and pitch."

In a way, Williams is going directly from Single-A ball to the Bronx since his first two starts were on a minor-league rehab assignment. He likely will be on a short pitch count tonight since he'll be making just his fifth start since the beginning of spring training. He missed three weeks of camp with a strained hamstring, getting back just in time to fend off a charge for the fifth-starter spot from rookie Garrett Richards.

So, as nervous as he'll be, Williams also recognizes the accomplishment of just getting on the mound tonight. He hasn't been on a major-league roster in April since 2007. In the interim, he has pitched all over the globe -- from Taiwan to Mexico to Puerto Rico to Venezuela -- and he's still only 30.

"I'm just happy I'm back," Williams said.

Kendrys Morales loses his groove and other nuggets

April, 14, 2012
4/14/12
9:14
AM PT
NEW YORK -- Hopes for this team were sky high after Albert Pujols signed, but they went stratospheric when Kendrys Morales proved he was healthy in the spring.

Now, both sluggers are struggling in tandem, particularly Morales, and it has blown a hole in the middle of the Angels' offense. The most telling measure of that: Morales, usually the team's cleanup hitter, has yet to drive in a run. Since his four-hit game one week ago, Morales is 1-for-18 with six strikeouts.

Since the hot start, he has seemingly swung at every pitch he has seen, causing manager Mike Scioscia to say before Saturday's game at Yankee Stadium, "He's expanding his zone a little bit, which he did at times in '09 as well." Getting reacquainted with American League pitchers could also help.

Morales is just trying to get comfortable again in the batter's box.

“I’m not doing great right now, but I’m trying to get acclimated as quickly as possible," Morales said. ...

Reliever Scott Downs got on the bullpen mound Saturday morning and threw a few pitches to test his bruised right ankle. He said it felt good and, after missing the next two games, expects to be ready to pitch again by Monday or Tuesday. Downs has been the Angels most reliable reliever since April 2011.

The injury is complicated by the fact Downs lands on his right foot.

"The good news is I'm not a very harsh lander. I'm not violent," Downs said. ...

The Angels promoted lefty pitcher Brad Mills from Triple-A for one reason only: after some shaky starting pitching in the first week -- and against a stacked lineup at a hitter's ballpark -- they were concerned they might not have enough innings to squeeze out of their bullpen. Mills is a starting pitcher and he's hoping this isn't a permanent career move, from starter to long man.

"I still think I can be a starter in the league, but obviously the opportunity is what it is," Mills said.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jered Weaver
WINS ERA SO IP
18 3.59 169 213
OTHER LEADERS
BAH. Kendrick .293
HRM. Trout 36
RBIM. Trout 111
RM. Trout 115
OPSM. Trout .939
ERAG. Richards 2.61
SOJ. Weaver 169