It's not strange to feel a strong pull toward Mike Trout. To want to hug him. To squeeze him. To pucker up your lips and kiss him. I mean, when he does things like this:
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Garrett Richards stood outside the Angels' clubhouse beaming.
The right-hander had just finished throwing his second Minor League game of the spring, and the line looked good: five innings, one hit, no runs and five strikeouts, with 47 strikes out of 69 pitches.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Matt Lindstrom experienced a not-so-pleasant milestone Saturday morning when the veteran right-hander was released by the Angels.
Lindstrom, 35, signed a Minor League contract that included an opt-out deadline of Tuesday, March 31, if he wasn't on the active roster. It was the first time Lindstrom, who has a 3.68 ERA in 469 career starts, has been released.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Maybe one day, when enough time has passed and the wound isn't so fresh, Roberto Baldoquin will share his escape story, because every Cuban defector has one. Thursday just wasn't that day. He was still settling in, to life as an Angels prospect, to baseball in the United States and to the logistics that come with it all.
Baldoquin was still trying to create some distance.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- C.J. Wilson pitched through a nightmarish second inning and Mark Trumbo went 1-for-3 in his first game against his former team as the D-backs beat the Angels, 7-2, at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Friday.
The D-backs sent 10 batters to the plate in the top of the second inning. Seven of them reached based and five of them scored, but only two -- Trumbo and A.J. Pollock -- actually hit the ball hard against Wilson. There was a walk, an infield single, errors by shortstop Erick Aybar and third baseman Kyle Kubitza and a fly ball that fell between Efren Navarro and Josh Rutledge in shallow right field.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Albert Pujols has never really had a bad Spring Training. He's hit at least .286 and as high as .407 over the last 10 springs, because he always shows up in shape and it never takes him long to find his timing.
He just seems, well, different this spring.
Angels team photographer Matt Brown had a new intern on Thursday.
His name was Chris -- "Chris Wilson" -- and he brought his own gear.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Six players make up the giant photos that grace the Home Plate Gate of Angel Stadium every year, presumably an indication of the players considered faces of the franchise.
Since the end of last season, three players have been removed. One of them, Howie Kendrick, now plays for the Dodgers. Another, Josh Hamilton, is facing a potential suspension from Major League Baseball.
MESA, Ariz. -- Albert Pujols belted a three-run homer and an RBI double and C.J. Cron added a two-run triple to back Jered Weaver and lift the Angels to a 8-4 victory on Thursday over the Cubs. Weaver, expected to be the Angels' Opening Day starter, struck out eight over 5 1/3 innings.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
MESA, Ariz. -- The competition for the fifth spot in the Angels' rotation could have very little to do with how the candidates perform and everything to do with how Garrett Richards' rehab progresses.
The key date here is April 14.
MESA, Ariz. -- Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun exited Thursday's game early with a bruised right triceps muscle, a product of a first-inning hit by pitch and seemingly a precautionary move.
Calhoun took a fastball to the area by Cubs lefty Eric Jokisch while leading off the game at Sloan Park. He then slid hard into second base while trying to break up a double play, played a half-inning in the outfield and left the facility, with a trainer by his side, in the middle of the second inning.
MESA, Ariz. -- Decision time on Matt Lindstrom is five days away, at most.
By Tuesday, Lindstrom will either be a part of the Angels' bullpen or join the free-agent market all over again. The 35-year-old right-hander was signed to a Minor League contract and can opt out if he isn't placed on the active roster five days before Opening Day.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Position battles are as intertwined into the fabric of Spring Training as much as the fun-loving, laid-back atmosphere that descends on Arizona and Florida each March. Usually, a frontrunner emerges in the race for the right to take the field in the first inning on Opening Day.
Not the case for the Angels, where the four-way battle for the starting spot at second base is still as murky as the day Spring Training began.
Nick Krueger is a junior majoring in journalism at Arizona State University. This story is part of a Cactus League partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Here's the thing about the Angels.
They aren't preparing for life after Josh Hamilton. They're merely preparing to do the best they can until he gets back, whenever that is.
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Opening Day is less than two weeks away and several options remain on the table, at least publicly.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Daniel Robertson hit an RBI double and scored on C.J. Cron's sacrifice fly in the seventh, giving the Angels a one-run lead and paving the way for a 4-3 win over the Indians at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Wednesday.
The Angels have won five of their last six games.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Adam Rosales had a two-run double and Thomas Field had a three-run home run in a 10-run seventh inning that lifted the Rangers to a 15-8 win over the Angels on Tuesday afternoon at Surprise Stadium. Ed Lucas had a single and a double in the inning as well.
Rangers starter Nick Tepesch -- who is adding a slow curve to his arsenal -- went five innings and allowed three runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out one while throwing 67 pitches. Reigning American League MVP Mike Trout had a triple off him that led to two runs in the first and Albert Pujols had a long solo home run in the fourth.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Mike Trout doesn't play fantasy baseball, but he certainly hears about it a lot. How could he not, as the consensus No. 1 pick in fantasy leagues throughout the country for three years running? Trout is a fantasy owner's dream. He racks up singles (321 from 2012-14), doubles (105), triples (26), homers (93), RBIs (291), runs (353) and stolen bases (98), all in one 23-year-old package that is widely considered the best all-around talent in the game.
An avid fantasy football player, Trout understands the passion and competition that fantasy leagues inspire. In advance of Opening Day, MLB sat down with the Angels' superstar center fielder to discuss the allure of fantasy sports and his critical place in the midst of it all.
MLB.com: The Angels have a pretty competitive fantasy football league every year. What's the draw of playing in a fantasy league?
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The last out was made and a grueling, three-and-a-half-hour Spring Training game reached its bitter end late Tuesday afternoon. The Angels lost to the Rangers, 15-8, and now it was time to board the bus for a 40-mile drive back home through heavy rush-hour traffic.
Jon Wilhite was one of the first to burst out of the visiting dugout at Surprise Stadium, smiling ear to ear.
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Four years ago, Drew Rucinski went undrafted out of Ohio State University.
Three years ago, he was making $600 a month pitching in independent ball.
Jose Mota is paid to be an English and Spanish broadcaster for the Angels on Fox Sports West, but he's much more than that. Over the last 14 years, he's become an important link between the organization and its Latin American players.
When Vladimir Guerrero won the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 2004, he flew Mota to New York to help facilitate the language barrier at the Baseball Writers' Association of America banquet. When Bartolo Colon claimed the AL Cy Young Award the following season, Mota did the very same thing.
Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the season ahead. Some are competing for jobs in big league camp, others are prepping for the season as they vie for spots at Minor League affiliates up and down a team's system. MLBPipeline.com will be visiting all 30 camps this spring. Today, we check in on the Los Angeles Angels.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels pulled off a difficult feat in 2014. They won at the big league level, topping all teams with 98 victories, while also starting to rebuild their farm system.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels right-hander Garrett Richards threw four no-hit innings against the Giants' Triple-A team in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Monday afternoon in the latest, most positive step in his extensive recovery from left knee surgery.
Richards is moving closer to taking the proverbial training wheels off, and to say he's excited about finally being unrestricted again would be an understatement.
Against Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Monday, the Angels' starters plated five runs in the first three innings of a 5-0 victory, which was more than enough thanks to six impressive innings by Matt Shoemaker.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels starter Matt Shoemaker pitched six shutout innings against the Mariners on Monday, the same division rivals he'll face during his regular-season debut in 16 days and several other times throughout the year.
A lot of teams will be getting their second and third look at Shoemaker this season.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Angels hitting coach Don Baylor recalls one particular night in Anaheim last season. It was Sept. 17. The Mariners were in town, and Mike Trout struck out four times. It was Trout's third time getting fitted for that dreaded "Golden Sombrero" in 2014, a year that saw him unanimously win the American League's Most Valuable Player Award but also strike out more times than any MVP in history.
It's not the strikeouts that made Baylor recall that game, though -- it's how Trout reacted to them.
Here at MLB.com, we have plenty of fantasy baseball expertise. But no one can dispute that the Major League players whom we analyze have their own level of knowledge. Knowing this, we decided to solicit advice from them about how to build the perfect fantasy team. The result is the first ever -- that we know of -- players-only fantasy mock draft.
Ten players with an interest in fantasy baseball agreed to take part in a three-round mock draft with the help of MLB.com reporters, who relayed picks across the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues.
Zachary Finkelstein is a fantasy editor for MLB.com. Reporting done by Adam McCalvy, Rhett Bollinger, Alden Gonzalez, Mark Bowman, Jane Lee, Brittany Ghiroli, Steve Gilbert, Brian McTaggart and Joe Frisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.