Results tagged ‘ Angels ’

Hudson aches along with Mulder

Sunday, Feb. 16

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Empathy was etched on Tim Hudson’s face Sunday as he spoke of his friend and former teammate, Mark Mulder.

Inactive since 2008, Mulder was attempting a comeback with the Angels. The left-hander’s dream was dashed Saturday when he ruptured his left Achillies tendon as he was about to throw his first bullpen session. Mulder hopes to try again in 2015, but that prospect appears dim at this moment.

So Hudson is the only remaining active pitcher among the Oakland A’s superb core of starters — himself, Mulder and Barry Zito — who dominated the American League from 2000-04. He wishes he weren’t alone.

Hudson sent Mulder a consoling text message. “I’m sure he’s dealing with a whole lot right now,” said Hudson, who signed with the Giants during the offseason. “I hate it. It makes me sick to my stomach. He’s really worked hard to try to get back.”

Praising Mulder’s gallant effort, Hudson concluded, “Not a lot of people could be in position to come back after five years of not playing the game.”

It’s worth recalling the greatness of Hudson-Mulder-Zito. Yes, “great” is overused. But the term applied to this trio.

Hudson joined the A’s in 1999; Zito performed for them through 2006. From 2000-04, when they occupied Oakland’s rotation together, they combined to post a regular-season record of 234-119. That’s a .663 winning percentage. During this span, they each won 20 games once and made the AL All-Star team twice. Hudson finished second in the AL Cy Young Award voting in 2000, Mulder did the same in 2001 and Zito won it in 2002.

Justifiably so, Hudson treasures his Oakland memories, judging from his reaction to Mulder’s misfortune. The fondness with which he spoke of Zito a couple of days earlier underscored his appreciation for his A’s days.

“He was a great guy and a great teammate when I was with him and everybody around here still has a lot of great things to say about him,” Hudson said of Zito. “I wish him the best. Man, I wish he was still here. If he were still here, I don’t know whether I’d be here. But it would have been awesome to be teammates with him one more time.”

Chris Haft

First-day Winter Meetings leftovers

INDIANAPOLIS — To nobody’s great surprise, Giants general manager Brian Sabean said Monday in his daily Winter Meetings briefing that Eugenio Velez and Andres Torres will enter Spring Training as the leading candidates to bat leadoff.

As was the case with most spots in the batting order, leadoff presented problems for the Giants last season. Their No. 1 hitters scored 94 runs, 14th in the National League and eight fewer than the league average. They hit .258, 12th in the NL and 14 points below the league average. Their .312 on-base percentage, good for 14th, fell .028 short of the league average.

Many readers have pointed out that Velez, despite his brief second-half surge, would be a poor choice to hit leadoff, given his .308 on-base percentage last season. Torres accumulated only 152 at-bats in 75 games, but .343 his on-base percentage outshone Velez’s. Torres also struggled to stay healthy, going on the disabled list twice with left hamstring strains.

Sabean mentioned that none of this takes into account what position Velez or Torres would play. Bruce Bochy will have a chance to discuss this issue further when he holds a question-and-answer session (as all Major League managers do at the Winter Meetings) on Tuesday.

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As managing general partner Bill Neukom concentrated on another activity but sat within earshot in the Giants’ suite, Sabean reiterated that the club’s payroll would remain “in the realm of last year,” probably in the low $90 million range. Due partly to the settlement the Giants will have to reach with Tim Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young Award winner who’s eligible for salary arbitration for the first time, they’ll need every penny (except Brad).

***

As the Giants continued searching for a catcher to play regularly while top prospect Buster Posey continues his apprenticeship, Sabean ruled out two possible fill-ins already on the roster: Pablo Sandoval and Ryan Garko.

The Giants have no desire to expose Sandoval to catching’s physical rigors, which could hamper their best offensive performer at the plate. “It’s too high a risk,” Sabean said. Sandoval started three games behind the plate last year, when he led San Francisco with a .330 average, 25 home runs and 90 RBIs. He caught 11 times in 41 games as a rookie in 2008.

Garko won the 2003 Johnny Bench Award as the nation’s top collegiate catcher while attending Stanford University. He has never caught an inning in his four-year Major League career, though he caught 141 games in the Minors.

***

Speculation that the Los Angeles Angels might be pursuing outfielder Jason Bay, regarded as one of the market’s few premier free agents, sparked spinoff gossip: Were the Angels to sign Bay, they could be compelled to trade outfielder Juan Rivera.

Rivera would nicely fit the Giants’ needs for a proven hitter. The 31-year-old hit .287 with 25 home runs and 88 RBIs in 138 games last season. Moreover, he’ll earn only $4.25 million next year and $5.25 million in 2011. But the combination of Rivera’s skill and relatively modest salary might prompt the Angels to demand a package of players beyond the Giants’ capabilities.

– Chris Haft

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