OAKLAND -- Major League Baseball released its 2012 schedule Wednesday and, as usual, the Los Angeles Angels will travel some of the most air miles in baseball.
Manager Mike Scioscia, who is on baseball's special committee for on-field matters, has grown increasingly vocal in his calls for realignment and schedule reform. Scioscia thinks it's time for the AL West to expand to five teams, something that could be accomplished as early as 2013. His aim is to end the season earlier, simplify travel and emphasize divisional play.
"It has to happen," Scioscia said.
The Houston Astros or Arizona Diamondbacks might join the AL West, among other solutions being discussed. It's not just about travel, Scioscia said, it's about competition. Seven of the Angels' final 13 games this season are against AL East teams. The Angels trail the first-place Texas Rangers by three games entering Wednesday's games.
"We need a more balanced test for each team within each division. That's really the way this whole championship schedule is set up, based on divisional rivalries," Scioscia said. "We've got 13 games left and more than half of them are at Baltimore and Toronto, against teams that are not in the divisional component."
Next season, the Angels face AL West teams in 12 of their final 15 games. In 2010, the Angels led the majors in air miles and they will finish second to the Seattle Mariners this season. In 2012, they will cover 45,167 miles, third-most in the majors after Oakland and Seattle.
The Angels face NL West teams in interleague play next season. They open the season April 6 against the Kansas City Royals in Anaheim.
Mark Saxon covers the Angeles for ESPNLosAngeles.com.