Results tagged ‘ Scott Kazmir ’

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.

 

Abreu, another Gold Glove and charity golf

I just got into Arizona to host a charity golf event, and I figured it was a good time to catch up.

First off, I want to say I’m really happy we signed my buddy Bobby Abreu to come back and play for the Angels. I’ll get to pick his brain some more now. Bobby’s so smart, and so valuable. He can hit in a lot of places in the lineup, and he’s a great leader, sharing all his knowledge and wisdom. He also cracks everybody up with his sense of humor, and you need that over a long season.

I spoke with Chone Figgins a few days ago, but we didn’t talk about his free agency situation. I know he’ll do what’s right for him and his family. Chone’s a smart guy. I was eating some red beans and rice, and he said he was hungry. That guy loves his red beans and rice.

I got word today that I won my ninth straight Rawlings Gold Glove, and that’s always a thrill. What makes it so meaningful is that it’s voted on by the managers and coaches, the men who know what’s really going on out there. Much respect from them is important to me, because they recognize all the things that go into being a good defensive player, like hitting the cutoff man, throwing to the right base, backing up guys along with making all the routine plays – and some spectacular ones.

I was disappointed my teammates, Figgy and Erick Aybar, didn’t win their first Gold Gloves. Both those guys were deserving. They worked so hard and had tremendous seasons, defensively and offensively. Those are two of the premier athletes in the game, with great speed and quickness and strong arms. Their time will come.

I thought I was having my best season when I injured my groin running into walls first at Dodger Stadium and then in San Francisco. Missing all those games, 32, that really hurt. When I came back, my groin was sore for another month or so, but I’m not second-guessing what I did. I play the game all out. You can’t worry about getting hurt.

I’m really looking forward to staying healthy next season and putting up some good numbers and helping us to get to our ultimate goal this time, the World Series. We were so close . . . but the Yankees beat us fair and square in the ALCS, and they showed how good they were winning the World Series.  

I like to relax as much as I can after a long season, but there are things to take care of, too. The Torii Hunter Celebrity Golf Classic I’m hosting will benefit schools and kids in need the next two days at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino.

Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks and his brother, B.J., of the Rays also are here helping out, and we’ve got a lot of big names showing up. Benefits will go to The Torii Hunter Project, The Heart of a Champion Foundation, Teleos Preparatory Academy in Phoenix and Sacaton Middle School on the Gila River Indian Reservation.

Tonight we have a gourmet dinner and a performance by Brian McKnight, a great recording artist. On Wednesday, we’ll have an exclusive pre-round golf clinic hosted by former PGA Tour professionals and golf TV analysts Gary McCord and David Feherty. Golfers, sponsors and some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment will then hit the course for a round of golf at The Whirlwind Golf Club at Wild Horse Pass.

Tonight’s emcee is Harold Reynolds, the former second baseman now doing TV commentary. We’re looking forward to having some of my teammates – Joe Saunders, Howard Kendrick, Jason Bulger, Mike Napoli and Scott Kazmir – along with my old buddy David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Darryl Strawberry, Nick Swisher, Derrek Lee, Tony Clark, Eddie Murray, Chris Young, Don Baylor, Kenny Lofton, Mark Grace and many others.

If you want to know more about the Torii Hunter Celebrity Golf Classic or to purchase tickets, call (480) 245-7177 or visit www.toriihunter.com.

I hope all my fans and fans everywhere have a great offseason. I’ll stay in touch now and then. Take good care of yourselves and your families.

 

The real Angels showed up today

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This is what I’ve been preaching to everybody, what you saw today at Angel Stadium. What happened in the regular season doesn’t matter now. It’s guys people don’t focus on who come through and decide playoff games.

That’s what we saw today with Jeff Mathis banging those two doubles, driving in the winning run, and throwing out Brett Gardner stealing second before Jorge Posada’s home run in the eighth inning. That was a huge play that shouldn’t be overlooked — the pitchout and throw to get Gardner.

And what a day it was for my locker mate, Howard Kendrick. He came through like a champion. He had a rough postseason last year, but this year, it’s different. He’s playing with fire, like he’s mad. And I like that.

This was more like it, more like us. We played the game hard, and we played it right. What happened in New York, that’s not our baseball. Today, we still made some mistakes, but it was more like us.

We kept battling and battling, and we came back and won a huge ballgame. Now we’ve got to carry that momentum into Game 4 and try to get CC Sabathia, one of the best.

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This game today had to be a huge lift for a lot of guys. I was so happy for Vlad Guerrero. He said he was going to do something special, and he did it with that two-run homer in the sixth inning. That was Vladdy being Vladdy, crushing a fastball.

He said, “OK, I’ve got something for you.” It’s all about confidence, like with Howie. He’s got it now. In the second half, after he came back from Salt Lake, he was as hot as anybody. The man is a natural hitter. He’s got the ability to do some great things in this game.

I’m not in the Yankees’ clubhouse, so I have no idea what they’re thinking or feeling. We don’t care about what they do. We only care about what we do.

We definitely feel we can ride this wave and take another one tomorrow behind Scott Kazmir. The guy pitched great for us after coming over from the Rays.

Mathis, he has a lot of heart. He’s an old football player — you know, like me. When you’re a Division I recruit by a school like Florida State, you know you’re an athlete — and that’s Mathis. He’s got that bulldog in him, and he wants to win.

The playoffs is a totally different adrenaline and energy. Guys people aren’t expecting to see come through always shine. Guys like Mathis and Kendrick, they’re dangerous — and they showed it. Kendrick’s home run in the fifth inning got us going, changed the mood, like we had a chance. And then Vlad unloaded his shot.

As for my at-bat against Mariano Rivera in the 10th inning after Mathis doubled … not much I can say about that. He got us. He did what he always does, throwing me nothing but cutters. He threw me one that was yanked, and I tried to stay on it and make something happen. I hit it to Mark Teixeira for a force, and he got out of the inning. He’s Mariano Rivera. That’s what he does.

Mariano, that guy’s just too nasty. It’s not fair. What we need to do is get leads and keep them. That way we won’t have to deal with him.

When we left New York, I said I felt something was about to change. That’s what happened today. The Angels showed up and played the game with passion and purpose. We’ve got a lot of heart on this team, and we showed it today.

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This is what we play for — a shot at the ring

This is my sixth postseason, and it’s a whole new season. It doesn’t matter what you do in the regular season. It’s all about who wants it more. You see guys who hit 30, 40 homers, drive in 100 runs, and they don’t do a thing in postseason. You’ve got pitchers who dominate in the regular season and don’t win in the postseason. It’s the same game, but different. 

I think guys here learned from last year, losing in four games to Boston. I’m not saying any names, but I can hear it in their voices, see it in their eyes. It’s totally different. The younger guys have that bulldog in them now. It’s what I was waiting to see, and I’m seeing it now.

I love this time of year. It takes me back to high school football in Pine Bluff, Ark., when I just wanted to go out and hit guys. I still want to hit — just a different kind of hitting.

Even though it’s the same game, the adrenaline and hype of it take you up to another level. You’ve got to block it out, go out and have fun. I don’t think anything needs to be said. We finished off on a good note, winning seven of the last eight, and we’re carrying that momentum into the postseason.

One thing about the playoffs – you don’t need any coffee. You don’t want to get too boosted up. I hurt my knee jumping up and down on a play last year against the Red Sox where I thought I was safe – and I wasn’t. The adrenaline was going crazy on me. I’m drinking straight water. Pure adrenaline is going to take over for you.

My whole focus is on the Red Sox, of course, but I’ve got to say, that Twins-Tigers playoff game was awesome. I watched it at home, and I caught myself every once in a while cheering for the guys I used to play with in Minnesota. They battled through it and got it done, and to do it without Justin Morneau, one of the best pure hitters in the game, and Joe Crede, that was impressive. But I know those guys, how much heart they have, how they battle.

Now they go on to New York. In 2003 and 2004, the Yankees put it on us. Hopefully, they can get it done. I texted most of the guys after it was over and told them how happy I was for them. It was a roller-coaster ride, and I was really excited for Alexi Casilla, getting the big hit, and of course for Joe Mauer and the rest of the guys.

Now they just go on straight adrenaline. The Twins probably have momentum, coming off a playoff game, a great win, but that’s a good team they’re playing.

The Twins are probably the closest team to us in their style. They’ve got a batting champion in Mauer, and they always play hard. I think we might have a couple more athletes. Put us on a football field, and we’d win. We have some old quarterbacks on this team – John Lackey, Jeff Mathis, Scott Kazmir, myself. Mathis would be our QB. He was a division I recruit, by Florida State.

I’ve got a lot of confidence in Lackey in Game 1.  John’s a bulldog who wants the ball every fifth day. He’s not afraid to throw strikes. The passion he has on the mound, when he comes into the dugout, either he’s upset or excited. I always like our chances when he’s out there.

As for our offense, you can’t say enough about what Bobby Abreu has brought to this team. Bobby’s whole thing is swing at strikes – whether it’s the first pitch or the last pitch you see. It’s simple, but it’s hard, especially for young guys and a hitter like Vladimir Guerrero, who’s always been so aggressive. Vladdy’s Vladdy. He’s been playing and doing it his way for a long time. And he’s a Hall of Famer.

Bobby definitely had a positive impact on me. I’ve been playing for years, but I’m getting better. Besides his approach on the field, another thing Bobby brings is the way he prepares himself. He gets here early, does his running, lifts his weights. Guys see that, and they want to be like Bobby. They know he’s always on the field.

The way Bobby carries himself, that’s another thing he brings to the clubhouse. He’s always relaxed, always singing. He’s a bad singer, but that’s OK. He’s suave. One of a kind.

I really like the way we set up with Chone Figgins and Bobby up top, then the rest of us. Those two guys know how to get on base and run the bases. Guys like Vlad, Juan Rivera, Kendry Morales, we’ve got some bangers in the middle. We have a lot of weapons.

I think we’re ready. Now it’s time to go out and get it done.

 

 

The Dog is flashing its teeth

Sometimes you’ve got to shake it up to wake them up. I didn’t have any plan or anything when I said what I said in Boston, about how we needed to forget all this Boston talk and just play our game. I was reacting emotionally to what was going on – I was upset, and I let it be known.

I don’t think it hurt, judging by the way we responded in that last game and then here in Texas on Friday night after a long trip on Thursday night. People don’t realize we got into Texas around 3 in the morning, then when we got to our hotel, there was no air conditioning, so some guys weren’t getting to sleep until about 5 in the morning.

That can make you less than on top of your game, and it might have had something to do with my error, the first one I’ve made in a long time – 265 regular-season games. I was making an aggressive play trying to keep a man at first, but it sailed and I got the error. Hey, nobody’s perfect, right?

As for what I said after that loss on Wednesday night in Boston when we didn’t get those calls at the end of the game, I really meant it. It shouldn’t have come down to those calls. We didn’t make plays earlier in the game, and we paid for it.

That wasn’t like us, making mistakes like that, and I let it be known that’s not us. We have to play the game the way we always do and forget about all the Boston hype, the Boston media talking about history and all that. It was a regular-season game, and we made some mistakes and got beat.

The next night, we came back and played much better and won a game. It was a good experience, as a whole, because we showed we know how to respond after a rough night. And they don’t come much rougher than that 9-8 game we lost.

We were facing one of the best in the game, Josh Beckett, the next night, and we got it done. We battled and battled and battled. Next thing we knew, we came up with a win. That was a big win. I’m really proud of our guys, the way we responded. It shows what we’re all about and how good this team can be.

One thing I didn’t do and will never do is call out a guy, an individual. I always say us or we. I’ve never done that, put the blame on one guy. When I said what I said, it was to get some of the guys to kind of check themselves, look in the mirror – whether it was me or anybody. It was to say, hey, I’m not playing the game I love the way I should play it. That was the point, and I hope it did some good.

This has not been an easy trip. We fly cross country, to New York, for one game, then go up to Boston for three, play a night game and fly to Texas, get in at 3 in the morning, get to sleep at 4, 5, and get up and play the next day.

I was really impressed with Scott Kazmir, the way he handled himself. He got through six scoreless innings without much of a breaking ball or changeup, putting his fastball in good spots and showing how tough he is. I think he is really going to be big for us.

There’s a mental toughness I’m seeing in this team now. We’re getting that “dog” I’ve been looking for, that mentality. We talked about it last year during the playoffs. Once you’ve done it, you know you can do it. That’s the dog I’ve been looking for, and I’m starting to see it.

I have so much faith in this ballclub. We’ve been through a lot this year. I really have a good feeling about where we are right now – and where we’re going.  

 

‘The Dog’ is flashing its teeth

Sometimes you’ve got to shake it up to wake them up. I didn’t have any plan or anything when I said what I said in Boston, about how we needed to forget all this Boston talk and just play our game. I was reacting emotionally to what was going on – I was upset, and I let it be known.

I don’t think it hurt, judging by the way we responded in that last game and then here in Texas on Friday night after a long trip on Thursday night. People don’t realize we got into Texas around 3 in the morning, then when we got to our hotel, there was no air conditioning, so some guys weren’t getting to sleep until about 5 in the morning.

That can make you less than on top of your game, and it might have had something to do with my error, the first one I’ve made in a long time – 265 regular-season games. I was making an aggressive play trying to keep a man at first, but it sailed and I got the error. Hey, nobody’s perfect, right?

As for what I said after that loss on Wednesday night in Boston when we didn’t get those calls at the end of the game, I really meant it. It shouldn’t have come down to those calls. We didn’t make plays earlier in the game, and we paid for it.

That wasn’t like us, making mistakes like that, and I let it be known that’s not us. We have to play the game the way we always do and forget about all the Boston hype, the Boston media talking about history and all that. It was a regular-season game, and we made some mistakes and got beat.

The next night, we came back and played much better and won a game. It was a good experience, as a whole, because we showed we know how to respond after a rough night. And they don’t come much rougher than that 9-8 game we lost.

We were facing one of the best in the game, Josh Beckett, the next night, and we got it done. We battled and battled and battled. Next thing we knew, we came up with a win. That was a big win. I’m really proud of our guys, the way we responded. It shows what we’re all about and how good this team can be.

One thing I didn’t do and will never do is call out a guy, an individual. I always say us or we. I’ve never done that, put the blame on one guy. When I said what I said, it was to get some of the guys to kind of check themselves, look in the mirror – whether it was me or anybody. It was to say, hey, I’m not playing the game I love the way I should play it. That was the point, and I hope it did some good.

This has not been an easy trip. We fly cross country, to New York, for one game, then go up to Boston for three, play a night game and fly to Texas, get in at 3 in the morning, get to sleep at 4, 5, and get up and play the next day.

I was really impressed with Scott Kazmir, the way he handled himself. He got through six scoreless innings without much of a breaking ball or changeup, putting his fastball in good spots and showing how tough he is. I think he is really going to be big for us.

There’s a mental toughness I’m seeing in this team now. We’re getting that “dog” I’ve been looking for, that mentality. We talked about it last year during the playoffs. Once you’ve done it, you know you can do it. That’s the dog I’ve been looking for, and I’m starting to see it.

I have so much faith in this ballclub. We’ve been through a lot this year. I really have a good feeling about where we are right now – and where we’re going.  

 

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