Purgatory Online

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

The Angels have signed 35-year-old Yoshitaka Mizuo, a left-handed reliever who's spent his entire career pitching in Japan, to a one-year contract. Mizuo is expected to start the season in Salt Lake City, but could move to Anaheim quickly depending on how badly they need someone to get lefties out late in the game.

The Angels have a prominent lack of lefties in the bullpen, and have since Scott Schoeneweis was traded to the White Sox in the middle of last season. This hasn't hampered them much; both Frankie Rodriguez and Brendan Donnelly retire lefties exceptionally well. With Donnelly out indefinitely after losing half his damn blood, however, they may require Mizuo's services. I have to say that I'm a bit leery of a 35-yeear-old who's never pitched in the majors, but as a left-handed specialist, he's probably worth a try.

In other news, Kelvim Escobar had his best outing of the spring yesterday in a game that was televised on ESPN2. Escobar held what was essentially the Cubs' starting lineup to three hits over seven innings of work, giving up no runs and striking out seven, maintaining a 94-95 mph velocity on his fastball the entire time. Paired with Washburn's equally praiseworthy start against the Giants on Sunday, this makes two straight days of excellent pitching news. Frankie Rodriguez had to leave the game after only a few pitches due to a blister on his throwing hand, but isn't expected to miss more than a couple of days, and Troy Percival finally had an effective relief outing, retiring three straight after putting the first hitter on board in the ninth. This was the first time I'd seen Percival pitch since he had corrective eye surgery, and the squinting madman look is just gone. It's a bit of a shame, actually.

Offensively, the Angels looked good at the beginning of the game, scoring three runs in the first four innings, but were shut down the rest of the way. The starters were pulled in the seventh, though, so that's not too much of a problem. More importantly, both Garret Anderson and Bengie Molina had multiple hits (GA went 2 for 3, Molina 3 for 3), so hopefully they're not going to be too hampered by their relatively short springs.

Meanwhile, the battle for the number five slot in the rotation continues. Sele more or less tread water in his last outing, a five-inning stint against Milwaukee's Triple-A club, in which he gave up two earned runs (though six runs total) on seven hits and three walks. Ramon Ortiz will have a shot to regain some ground today, when he starts against Texas. This should be a pivotal moment, as Texas his a fine offensive team with a lot of power, and one of Ortiz's weak spots has always been the longball. Scioscia said yesterday, during the ESPN broadcast, that this decision has been the hardest one he's had to make in the last five years of spring trainings, but I'd guess that if Ortiz has another meltdown it's over. Given that the Angels open a week from today, it seems that this will be the final chance either Ortiz or Sele has to show his stuff; Sele won't be scheduled to pitch again until Friday at the earliest, and I doubt Scoscia wants to leave it that long.