Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
The Los Angeles Angels have spent enough and put themselves in the spotlight enough to at least draw some of the attention away from the Dodgers. But can they stay healthy and perform up to expectations?
The Los Angeles Angels look like an All-Star team on paper. Just take a moment to run through the list of names on that team: Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Erick Aybar, C.J. Wilson, Jered Weaver, Tommy Hanson, Ryan Madson (who while injured, has no damage in his elbow). That's an impressive list of players. Yet, we've seen in the past that stacked teams don't always live up to the hype. In order for the Angels to dominate and win the AL West, they'll have to stay healthy, make sure all the pieces fit properly, and possibly make a couple more moves. Here are your Angels news and notes:
The Machine's Health
Albert Pujols is human. Right? He has to be considering the obvious decline in production and the struggles he's had with health over the last two years. That's not a knock on him by any stretch. Even the greatest players stumble, falter, and eventually fade away. That may not be what happens with Pujols, but he's entering the 2013 season coming off another injury. This one may keep him out of spring games until March.
According to ESPN Los Angeles, Pujols has been building up strength in his surgically repaired knee since he underwent arthroscopic surgery after the season. He has been working on agility drills and light running, but Pujols is not going to push himself this early in the spring. Spring training games begin on February 22nd, but Pujols will likely wait until March to begin participating. He expects to be fully healthy by Opening Day.
The Los Angeles Angels have some decent talent in their outfield, and Peter Bourjos is included in that talent. However, he has found himself the source of numerous trade rumors. His production has simply not been what the Angels had hoped, and they may be willing to part ways with the center fielder while there is still some value left. But Bourjos can erase those trade talks and find himself a home in Los Angeles with some consistency.
CBS Los Angeles says Bourjos is looking for more consistency this season. He has a chance to win the starting center fielder job right out of spring, but it will take work, and it will take production. Bourjos knows about the trade rumors, but he also knows what he can control.
"You can't pay attention to (the rumors)," Bourjos said. "They'll drive you nuts if you do. This is where I want to be."
Bourjos got everyone's attention in 2011 when he played in 147 games and hit .271/.327/.438. However, he has been up and down in his career. Last season, Bourjos hit .220/.291/.315 in 101 games. He will need to shown consistent production like he did in 2011 for the Angels to truly consider keeping him. But then again, that may simply raise his trade value. And that's why Bourjos tries not to think about it.
Finding a solid second baseman who can hit is not always easy. The Angels have done that, though, with Howie Kendrick. Kendrick has been a surprisingly productive part of the Angels' lineup, even making an All-Star appearance in 2011. However, he is coming off an elbow surgery that was designed to help clear up what he called a "nuisance" in the elbow.
The surgery, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, was similar to what teammate C.J. Wilson underwent during the offseason. Kendrick's surgery, and arthroscopic procedure, took place in November. He began rehabbing in December and expects to be ready for spring games and Opening Day. The same is true of Wilson, as the procedure is about as minor as they come when talking about surgeries.
Kendrick has played seven seasons with the Angels after being drafted by the club in 2002. In his career, he has hit .292/.328/.428. Kendrick has remained relatively healthy throughout his career. He has played in 140 or more games three-straight seasons.