TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels have now gone four years without making the playoffs and they're coming off an uncompetitive 84-loss season. C.J. Wilson believes that's creating a sense of urgency at Spring Training.
"Just the general vibe, the overall median level, is higher this year," the Angels' No. 2 starter said on Tuesday morning. "There's better work ethic; guys are in better shape."
A major focus for the Angels -- perhaps the major focus -- will be performing better out of the gate, and avoiding the woeful Aprils that have crippled their postseason aspirations the last two seasons.
"And we need to start here," Wilson said. "We need to start being competitive in here, like taking some pride out there even if it's just a Spring Training game."
Camp will be different this year, after a Major League-worst 6.56 ERA and .333 winning percentage in last season's Cactus League action. Hitters will be taking a lot more swings, live batting practice will be re-introduced after a one-year hiatus, the situational component will be emphasized from the get-go, and bullpen sessions will be more aggressive.
Wilson wouldn't name names, but he said a lot of guys came into Spring Training out of shape last year, and he believes several of the injuries that haunted the Angels all season -- Jered Weaver's broken left elbow being a clear exception -- were fitness-related. This year, he sees "a general increase in energy."
"It's not any one particular guy," Wilson said. "You just notice that in the weight room there are just more people in there. They're doing more aggressive weight lifting, they're running a little faster in the treadmill, they're eating a little better at the table. You can see it. And that's all it takes. It just takes a little bit of momentum. It's that snowball that turns into an avalanche."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less