Results tagged ‘ Juan Rivera ’

All about catching Rangers

NEW YORK – It’s been a long, bumpy ride through the first half for our Angels, and the All-Star Game was an awesome experience in every way. But now it’s strictly baseball. It’s about catching the Rangers, and they’re hotter than a firecracker.

They’ve got the best offensive numbers in Major League Baseball, and they added Cliff Lee to a strong pitching staff. They’ve also got Tommy Hunter, who’s 7-0 after getting sent down. There’s something about T-Hunters. That’s a little joke, you know.

Going to Texas, home for me, after we finish up with the Yankees, we know what we have to do. We have to play well, play consistent baseball. Everybody has to step up, play smart and tough baseball. We’ve got to bunt guys over, hit-and-run. We’ve got to come out of the bullpen throwing strikes, make all the plays.

In the past, we were the team everyone was chasing. Now we’re the ones trying to catch up, so we can’t afford to be making mistakes. Sometimes teams with a lead can get comfortable, but they know they can’t get too comfortable. They know what we’ve done before, and what we’re capable of doing. We’re the team that’s been winning for a long time, that has history. We’re playing well, but they’ve been playing better. We have to change that.

The first half, to sum it up, you have to say it was a bumpy road. In April, we didn’t play the way we were capable of playing. The offense, defense and pitching were all subpar. Then we got to May and June and started playing our style of baseball – great defense, hitting the ball pretty hard, pitching well. It seemed like we didn’t have any flaws.

Then the last week before the All-Star Game, we ran into the hottest team in the game, the White Sox, and they swept us four straight in Chicago. We had those rain delays and then the long flight to Oakland, getting in at 5 a.m. That kind of carried over to Oakland, and we didn’t play well there.

The All-Star break was good for the guys, I think. They were able to go to the beach, relax, not even think about the game. It refreshed the guys. For myself and Jered Weaver, it was a little different. We were involved in all the All-Star Game and all the activities. It was awesome, don’t get me wrong. But it was also a little exhausting.

I had 25 to 30 family members come in, and I was entertaining them, Angel fans, MLB fans and some of the players, too. From 7 a.m. all the way through the way, I was on the move, attending the Fanfest, events, talking to people. It was an amazing experience. The color fed was everywhere I went. It gave me a real sense of how big the Angels are now, how loyal the fan base is. It was a great experience. It was for the fans, and they had a great time. So it was well worth it in every respect.

Now it’s all baseball. It’s time to go to work. I’m excited to get Maicer Izturis back, because he’s one of the best clutch hitters around, .326 in his career with runners in scoring position, and a tremendous all-around player. He’s going to help a lot – he already has, driving in those big runs in our win last night over the Yankees.

With Izzy getting back in it, with Mike Napoli tearing it up and playing good first base, and with Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, Juan Rivera and all the other veterans firing on all cylinders, we know we’re capable of playing great baseball. It’s time to go. Let’s do it.

 

Angels: Built to win

ANAHEIM – It’s great to be back in our park, back home. We got everything accomplished we needed to do in Arizona, and now it’s time to get ready for the real thing. We’re looking forward to seeing the Twins on Monday, so we can get this show started.

I know there’s been a lot of attention focused on the guys we lost this winter – Chone Figgins, John Lackey, Vladimir Guerrero, Darren Oliver, Gary Matthews Jr. But that’s the way the game is. Guys move on, and you adapt. We’ve made some great additions, and I’m really excited with the team we’ve put together here.

Of course, it hurts losing teammates who were friends. A guy like Figgy, he was a respected man in the clubhouse, a leadoff guy who scored more than 100 runs and saved a lot of runs with his glove. He played the game right. But he got a great deal in Seattle, just like I got a great deal here. I’m happy for Figgy, but he’s on the other side now, and we’ll compete against each other with everything we’ve got.

I’ve got a ton of confidence in Erick Aybar taking over as the leadoff man. He’s a young guy with tremendous talent coming off a big year. And he can fly. He’s going to be fun to watch on the bases. With another year of experience with his mentor, Bobby Abreu, Aybar should be even better.

Bobby’s one of the best leaders in the game, and I’m so happy he’s back. You could see his influence last year in how much Aybar and Kendry Morales and so many other guys improved during the season. Bobby even helped out veterans like Figgy and me in a big way by showing us how to be more disciplined and selective at the plate. Everyone learned from watching Bobby and listening to him.

Lackey was a bulldog, one of the reasons I wanted to come here, but he got a great deal in Boston. We signed Joel Pineiro to replace Lackey in the rotation, and I’m impressed with Pineiro. You’ve got to like a guy who throws strikes and keeps the ball down. He should get real deep in games with our defense behind him.

With Pineiro, Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana and Scott Kazmir, we’ve got five solid starters, five guys who will give us a chance to win every night. We’re built to win with that rotation and with a deep bullpen. We’ve got some big arms out there, and this is Brian Fuentes’ second year in the American League. That always helps, getting that first year to figure things out.
 
Hideki Matsui is the guy I call the Quiet Assassin. He’s as clutch as they come, in a quiet way. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Hideki does in our lineup. He’s a pro, like Bobby, and you can never have enough of those guys.

Morales was born to hit. I call him Captain Caveman and Bam-Bam. He’s solid, strong and he always wants to use that stick and hit. And he’s good down at first with the glove.

Hitting behind Aybar and Bobby, and in front of Hideki, Morales, Juan Rivera, Howard Kendrick, Brandon Wood, Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis, Maicer Izturis. That’s a lot of talent, a load of weapons.

Brandon Wood, his thing is to play defense and do his part. Let us have the pressure. That’s why they’re paying us. We just want him to relax and play. He’s got it in him to hit at least 20 homers, with 70-plus RBIs. If he does that, he helps the team tremendously. The way he’s played third base, he’s been impressive.

Everybody knows what Izturis can do – pretty much whatever you need. He’s versatile and clutch, the kind of guy every winning team needs. Kendrick is going to do some really big damage this year. He’s my pick to click. I definitely feel he’s one day going to win that batting title, if he can just stay healthy.

With the kind of talent we have in front of me and behind me, I should be in a good position to drive in runs and score a lot of runs. All I have to do is stay on the field.

I was on my way to my best season ever when I messed up my groin crashing into walls last year. I really feel good now – once I broke the scar tissue sliding this spring, I was good to go. I don’t even think about the sports hernia surgery I had last winter anymore. I’m ready to get after it.

I think we’re built to win the division. There’s a reason why the Angels have won the AL West three years in a row and five of the past six. These guys know how to compete, how to win. I thought we had a great year last season, considering everything we went through losing Nick Adenhart. We’ll never forget Nick, what he meant to us.

This team has a lot of heart. Our mission this season is to take it all the way. We can’t wait to get started.

 

Hard to believe its over

toriigame4swing550x250.jpg

I really hate for it to end like this. I could have sworn we were going to The Show, the Fall Classic. One-hundred percent, I thought we were going to The Show.

This has been such a great season, and this was such a great team, it makes me sick to think that it’s over and we didn’t go all the way. I really thought we had the team to get it done. Walking away is so hard when you’ve gone through so much with a team for eight months.

It’s really hard to swallow. I thought we were taking it back to Anaheim for Game 5. We came back, and when I got that single to drive in the two runs to tie it, the guys were going crazy. I was trying to go the other way like that, hit it hard. He threw me a fastball that I was able to drive, and it was an awesome feeling to see Tex and Vlad score. Tying up the game in that situation, with two outs and two strikes on me, that was a thrill. I felt like we had all the momentum, that we’d be coming home for the decisive game.

toriilettinggoofbat275x375.jpg

And just like that, we didn’t make the squeeze play work, they got a couple of hits, and our season was over.

The thing now is, you don’t know who’s coming back next season. You can’t say you’re going to be in this position again and have a team like this. This was the chance. This was the team. Unless everybody comes back — and we all have no idea how that’s going to turn out — we won’t get another chance with this team.

In a perfect world, I would love to have Mark Teixeira back, Frankie Rodriguez, Garret Anderson, Darren Oliver, Juan Rivera, Jon Garland — all those guys. But that’s out of our hands. That’s the business side of the game, and you never know what’s going to happen there. We have to trust our management people to make good moves and keep us strong and competitive.

What hurts for all the guys in this room is that we feel we’re a better team than those guys, but they’re moving on. That’s hard to take. It was little things here and there. Maturity. Some guys probably learned a lot this postseason that will help them in the future. You have to be 100 percent mentally committed to getting it done.

For me there are two seasons — the regular season and the postseason. I’m happy about what we did in the regular season. We made it to 100 wins, the first team to do that for this franchise, and that’s something we should all feel good about. We hung together and made a lot of great things happen. The fans were great, and I think we gave them a good show.

But the postseason, that’s a big disappointment. I’m just really upset about October. Maybe in time we’ll all be able to understand what happened, why we didn’t get it done, but right now, it just doesn’t make sense. We had so much talent on this team, so much camaraderie. I’m so proud of these guys, what they accomplished.

I think we all just need a little time to get over it. Before long, we’ll be back at it with Mike Scioscia and the staff, bringing big hopes and expectations to 2009. But right now, it’s a little too painful to put into words.

Hard to believe it’s over

toriigame4swing550x250.jpg

I really hate for it to end like this. I could have sworn we were going to The Show, the Fall Classic. One-hundred percent, I thought we were going to The Show.

This has been such a great season, and this was such a great team, it makes me sick to think that it’s over and we didn’t go all the way. I really thought we had the team to get it done. Walking away is so hard when you’ve gone through so much with a team for eight months.

It’s really hard to swallow. I thought we were taking it back to Anaheim for Game 5. We came back, and when I got that single to drive in the two runs to tie it, the guys were going crazy. I was trying to go the other way like that, hit it hard. He threw me a fastball that I was able to drive, and it was an awesome feeling to see Tex and Vlad score. Tying up the game in that situation, with two outs and two strikes on me, that was a thrill. I felt like we had all the momentum, that we’d be coming home for the decisive game.

toriilettinggoofbat275x375.jpg

And just like that, we didn’t make the squeeze play work, they got a couple of hits, and our season was over.

The thing now is, you don’t know who’s coming back next season. You can’t say you’re going to be in this position again and have a team like this. This was the chance. This was the team. Unless everybody comes back — and we all have no idea how that’s going to turn out — we won’t get another chance with this team.

In a perfect world, I would love to have Mark Teixeira back, Frankie Rodriguez, Garret Anderson, Darren Oliver, Juan Rivera, Jon Garland — all those guys. But that’s out of our hands. That’s the business side of the game, and you never know what’s going to happen there. We have to trust our management people to make good moves and keep us strong and competitive.

What hurts for all the guys in this room is that we feel we’re a better team than those guys, but they’re moving on. That’s hard to take. It was little things here and there. Maturity. Some guys probably learned a lot this postseason that will help them in the future. You have to be 100 percent mentally committed to getting it done.

For me there are two seasons — the regular season and the postseason. I’m happy about what we did in the regular season. We made it to 100 wins, the first team to do that for this franchise, and that’s something we should all feel good about. We hung together and made a lot of great things happen. The fans were great, and I think we gave them a good show.

But the postseason, that’s a big disappointment. I’m just really upset about October. Maybe in time we’ll all be able to understand what happened, why we didn’t get it done, but right now, it just doesn’t make sense. We had so much talent on this team, so much camaraderie. I’m so proud of these guys, what they accomplished.

I think we all just need a little time to get over it. Before long, we’ll be back at it with Mike Scioscia and the staff, bringing big hopes and expectations to 2009. But right now, it’s a little too painful to put into words.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.