Discipline and Patience are virtues for Halos

For Mike Scioscia, one thing that his club can do much better at in 2009 is showing patience and discipline at the plate.

Through the first six games of the Cactus League schedule, the Angels had drawn 35 walks -- more than any other major league team -- and were the only team with more walks than strikeouts. Meaningless as early spring statistics are, manager Mike Scioscia admitted that the Angels have put a greater emphasis on plate discipline "organization-wide."

"We're starting to get some tendencies with some of our younger guys that are coming through the organization, and some of them are a little alarming on their walk-strikeout ratio," Scioscia said.

"It's not necessarily just drawing walks. It's getting into hitters' counts. There's a lot of things we look at.

"I think this group has done a great job in the first week of playing games in the batter's box and what they're doing. We need to carry it over to the guys that we know are going to get 600 at-bats for us."

Angels minor-leaguers are getting definite instructions on working counts this spring. At the major league level, though, the Angels have been one of the least disciplined teams.

According to fangraphs.com, they swung at a higher percentage of pitches outside the strike zone than any other major league team in each of the last three seasons. They have ranked higher than 23rd in the majors in walks drawn only once since 2002.

But Scioscia insists it has never been part of the team's hitting philosophy.

"That's not a philosophy. That's a plate-discipline issue that some guys got a little out of what they need to do," Scioscia said. "Our philosophy is absolutely not to wail and bail. Our philosophy is very clear. Some times there's a perception out there that I don't know how it gets created."

-- Jose Arredondo is the latest Angel to back out of the World Baseball Classic. Arredondo felt a pull in his left hip flexor while pitching against the Brewers last weekend and decided not to pitch for the Dominican team. He has stayed in camp with the Angels, receiving treatment for the strain. The problem is not considered serious.

-- Vladimir Guerrero continues to progress in his recovery from off-season knee surgery and has begun running as part of his daily workouts. Guerrero is not expected to play in Cactus League games for another week or so but is expected to be at full strength for Opening Day.

-- Angels general manager Tony Reagins met with Steve Hilliard, agent for RHP John Lackey, on Friday at the team's offices in Tempe Diablo Stadium. But Reagins said the discussions were "very, very preliminary" and did not include any substantive talks about contract parameters. Lackey is a potential free agent after this season and said he would prefer not to have contract discussions extend into the season.

--RHP Kelvim Escobar returned to throwing in the bullpen after taking it easy for a week because of a strained left calf. The next two weeks will be an important period in Escobar's recovery from shoulder surgery, manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think the next two weeks will give us a lot more clarity on that (when he can rejoin the Angels' rotation). It's one thing to throw bullpens. It's another thing to get in against hitters, get in games, raising the intensity. We're going to have to play that one by ear."

-- The Angels will wear a patch on one sleeve this season to honor Preston Gomez. Gomez spent 65 years in baseball as a player, coach, manager, scout and front-office executive, including more than 30 in the Angels' organization. He died in January from injuries suffered in an accident last spring. The patch is a black baseball diamond with the name "Preston" written across it.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Three or four of us were watching him in the bullpen and we're like, 'July? Come on; July?' He definitely doesn't look four months away." -- RHP Shane Loux on RHP Kelvim Escobar's rapid recovery from shoulder surgery.

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