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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

UTK Quickies

From yesterday's UTK:
Bobby Abreu (2 DXL)
Abreu is always a threat for a 30-30 season, having already done so three times in his career. At 35, you'd think that those years were behind him, at least on the steals, but look at his line so far this season: zero home runs, 11 stolen bases. As I suspected this year, we're seeing the return of speed, even with guys like Abreu. I'm not sure if it's a philosophical change, a development change, or just all of the catchers with bad throwing arms around the league, but as Dexter Fowler and Carl Crawford are showing, gaudy displays of speed are back in fashion. Abreu's back could also be an issue in why that power line seems off. He missed the weekend as the medical staff worked to loosen him up, but sources tell me that the problem has been there since spring training. It affects him most, as the stats show, when he's at bat, making it tough for him to rotate, and slowing his swing. Straight-line running isn't being affected nearly as much, and Abreu is taking his chances to keep his value up. The Angels are hoping they can free up his back and balance out that line in the next few weeks, so look for occasional days off, especially when they can be paired with an offday.

Ervina Santana (40 DXL)
John Lackey (40 DXL)

The Angels need pitching, but they won't rush Lackey or Santana back. Mike Scioscia insists that no matter what Lackey does in his Triple-A rehab start today, he'll make at least one more Salt Lake start, and perhaps two, before returning to Anaheim. Lackey has shown no problems with his velocity or command during the rehab, but facing Triple-A hitters will be a big step forward, one that many in the AL West should be watching closely. Santana is ahead of Lackey in some ways, making his first rehab start yesterday, but his was in High-A Rancho Cucamonga. He hit his limit of 60 pitches in the fifth, showing good command and his normal velocity, topping out at 94 mph. Both pitchers could be back as soon as late next week, assuming they recover normally from their starts.

... and today:
John Lackey (50 DXL)
Lackey got 13 runs of support, including two grand slams in the same inning, during his rehab start in Triple-A Salt Lake. Regardless, he also made it through his sixty pitches in dominating fashion, striking out three and only giving up one weak hit in the process. Lackey's going to need one more start to make sure that he has the proper stamina before being activated, but it appears as if the stuff is already there. All reports say that he showed all of his pitches, normal velocity, and that his manner on the mound was intense. With Ervin Santana one start away as well, the Angels appear to have held on through their pitching crisis without getting buried in the AL West. If the Angels win another title, the rest of the division is going to have to look back and realize that they had their chance.

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