Turning it around

For me, personally, this has probably been the worst first half of my career. It’s a combination of things. Every time I’ve started to feel good, something has happened, little setbacks. As a team, we struggled the first couple of months, but our pitching kept us alive.

I can’t give enough credit to our pitching staff, especially Jered Weaver and Dan Haren. Both those guys deserve to be in the All-Star Game – and Jered deserves to start. When you’ve got two guys like that, they keep you out of losing streaks and add on to winning streaks. There aren’t many teams that have starting pitching like ours, and it all starts with those two guys. Ervin Santana, Joel Pineiro and the young guy, Tyler Chatwood, all have pitched well, too. And the bullpen has done the job with the new lefties, Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi, giving us balance.

Once we got the breaking news that Kendrys Morales was not returning this season, as a team we kind of folded for about 10 games. That was a very frustrating time for the team, the coaching staff and the front office. It took us about two weeks to realize he’s not going to come back and be with us. We had to come together. We did that, and you can see now that we’re back to playing Angels baseball.

This is the team Mike Scioscia pulled out of Spring Training, the team we thought we were going to be. Vernon Wells is hot, and I’m starting to swing pretty well. We know how much this team needs us to be productive, and we’re determined to do our part. Bobby Abreu is Bobby Abreu. He plays the game right every day. Our infield has been playing great, from All-Star Howard Kendrick to Maicer Izturis, Erick Aybar, Alberto Callaspo and the kid at first, Mark Trumbo.

The key for us now is staying healthy. If we can do that, I really believe this team is capable of going to the World Series.

With all that we went through in the first half – the Morales news, injuries to a lot of guys, including Vernon and myself – it’s amazing to think we’re tied for first place in the American League West right now. That tells me how strong we are and how good we can be.

I have a saying: Don’t let a setback hold you back. Prepare for a comeback. That’s what all the guys have done. While we were struggling, we were preparing for a comeback. We’ve got a lot of strong individuals on this team, and that’s what it takes to get through hard times. We made adjustments and made progress. We don’t give up. We never give up.

I can’t say enough about what all our young guys have done. They’ve been thrown out there with a lot of pressure on them, and they’ve performed.

Look at Hank Conger, our young catcher. That’s a tough position, with a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. You’ve got to command everything, calm pitchers down, call the right pitches, block the plate, block pitches. There’s so much to that job, and Hank has come a long way for a guy in his first full year. We’re in good shape behind the plate with Hank, Jeff Mathis and Bobby Wilson. That’s great depth at an important position.

Then you look at Mark Trumbo at first base. He’s holding it down. He knew he was under pressure because of Kendrys not being here, and he has come through for us in a big way. Around the league first base is known for power, and he’s been holding his own. It’s not easy when you don’t know the pitchers or the league. The guy has tremendous power and he wants to be good. He works at it. For a first year guy, he’s doing a great job defensively, I think.

Peter Bourjos in center field, what can you say? The guy has been unbelievable. He’s playing Gold Glove defense and growing in confidence at the plate and on the bases. I love to work with a guy with that kind of speed, and the great thing about Pete is, he doesn’t think he knows everything. He really wants to learn. He’s very humble, but he’s also tough when he steps between the lines. He was a football player in high school, catching touchdowns and running back kicks for touchdowns. That sport toughens you up. Only the strong survive. I played football. So did Vernon and Jeff Mathis. You need that kind of intensity and toughness on a team.

Jordan Walden is another kid who’s been put in an important role, closing games, and what he’s done is very impressive. He’s got great stuff and a good attitude. He’s not afraid, either. None of our young guys are. That’s why I think their upside is so great. It’s kind of scary when you think what all these kids are capable of doing when they settle in.

As a team, we’ve struggled, and we’ve fought back. I really like where the Angels are right now. I’m really looking forward to what’s ahead of us.

9 Comments

Torii continues to show he’s a six-tool player. He can hit, hit for power, run, field, throw and write. Write on, Torii!

Torii,

We love you. We love that you’re an Angel. Thinking of naming our first kid “Hunter” after you– you’ve got incredible heart, passion, and loyalty and we hope our child will embody all those traits. Keep up the good work. :)

You guys played a great game last night. It was fun to be there for a fantastic win. It hasn’t been an easy season for you, but nothing that’s worth it ever is.

I have little doubt Torri will turn it around in the 2nd half just as we see Wells doing right now. Actually at this point I don’t feel the entire team has played up to their abilities yet. This may be because there are so many young guys that the team hasn’t really jelled yet. I do feel that moving foreword this latest run has instilled a confidance and swagger into the team that they have lacked. I feel they are going to make a strong run and can do some damage in the post season.

Win or lose Torii, we have your back. You’re an inspiration to more people than you think. Keep up the fantastic work. We love you Torii!

Cheea this article pumped me up. That’s exactly how I’m feeling right now…gotta stay healthy. Scared me the other day when you crashed into the wall. Hope you are feeling good now and ready to get this West Title. =)
It’s Hunter Season. Go Halos!!

So happy to read an update from you. The second half is in front of you, reach for the stars.

As an Angels fan living in the Seattle suburbs, I’m thoroughly enjoying the 3-0 start to the series against the Mariners! Thanks for the two homers yesterday Torii. On a sidebar, I thought Bourjos was fast, but was also very impressed seeing Trout’s speed on the basepaths. Good luck in today’s game.
-Trevor Dempsey
Bothell, WA

Thanks for the update Torii! I figured the slow start was frustrating for you but had no doubt you would turn it around and you have. I know the team has had it’s struggles this season, but with the the Angels great blend of gifted veterans and promising rookies, I am really enjoying watching my Halos play. And first place is absolutely on the horizon! Best wishes for a great second half!
— Kristen
Azusa, CA

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