Dan Haren is more than ready for the season to get going, especially with the high-octane offense that will be backing him up.
Haren pitched 5 2-3 solid innings in his final spring tuneup, Mark Trumbo hit a three-run homer, and the Angels beat the Dodgers 12-3 Monday night in the opener of a three-game series that will end the exhibition schedule for both Los Angeles teams.
''Top to bottom, our lineup is pretty solid,'' Haren said. ''We're adding a three and four hitter, and not too many teams can do that. So it's going to make us better. On paper, we look great, but we've still got to put it together and get it done.''
With Albert Pujols batting third and Kendrys Morales in the cleanup spot after missing 1 1/2 seasons with a devastating ankle injury, Haren's chances of being a 20-game winner look good as long as he keeps pitching the way he has.
''It's amazing how consistent Dan's been - not only during the time that we've seen him, but his whole career,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ''He really held up well last year under some situations where he's been pitching with his back against the wall - which a lot of our guys were doing.
''I'm not going to put numbers on anybody,'' Scioscia added. ''We talked with our guys about the 50 games we played last year where the starters didn't get any run support in the first five innings.
''And there's no doubt that if we get some early runs for these guys, it's going to make what they do flow a lot easier. How much of that translates into wins, I don't know. It's impossible to say.''
A 20-win season isn't as high a priority for Haren as the number of starts and innings he finishes with - and a championship season for the Angels.
Last year, he was 16-10 with a 3.17 ERA, threw a career-high 238 1-3 innings in 34 starts and had an AL-best strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.82.
''Wins aren't a personal goal for me. This is more of a team thing,'' Haren said. ''I'm confident in my ability. And if I can get out there 33 or 34 times in the regular season, the numbers will fall where they want to fall. Health and innings and giving my team a chance every time, that's more of what I look for.''
Haren (3-0) threw 94 pitches, striking out five and walking none while finishing his spring with a 2.05 ERA in six starts. The three-time All-Star right-hander is scheduled to make his season debut next Saturday against Kansas City.
''Spring results don't matter too much, unless they're skewed one way or the other - either really good or really bad,'' Haren said.
''I've never really had too much success in the Cactus League, that's for sure. But the swings that I'm getting from hitters and the looks that I've gotten off hitters, I feel confident that my stuff is going to play early on in the season. I tend to start fast, and I hope it's the same way this year.''
Albert Pujols was 0 for 3 with a bases-loaded walk in his first game at Angel Stadium in a Halos uniform. The three-time NL MVP left the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals after 11 seasons to sign a 10-year, $240 million contract.
But he is not going to add any extra pressure on himself in his new surroundings.
''To tell you the truth, there's only three times when I feel pressure - my first at-bat in spring training, my first at-bat opening day and first-at-bat in the playoffs. The rest is just baseball,'' Pujols said.
''I'm playing the game that I love, I know how to play the game, and we have a good ballclub. I think that takes the pressure off you trying to do too much. But I've been playing this game at this level for 11 years, so I don't think there's going to be any extra pressure at all. It's not a one-man crew. We're a team. It's 25 guys that are going to try to do whatever it takes to accomplish our goal and our dream. And that's to win a championship.''
The Dodgers' situation is more cloudy. But now that outgoing owner Frank McCourt has agreed to sell the ballclub to an ownership group that includes Magic Johnson, things should be looking up.
''I'm sure the players are happy to know who's running the show and who's taking us where we want to go. And I think that's what's been missing over the last couple of years,'' manager Don Mattingly said. ''Mr. McCourt really had a lot to deal with, and it seemed like the baseball team was second (priority).
''But now, you see the Guggenheim partners with Magic and Stan Kasten, so we know who's running the show. It doesn't really change our job, I don't think, because you're still going to go out and try to do the best baseball you can every day. But just knowing that you have someone above you who's the driving force is good for this organization and good for us.''
The Angels grabbed the lead with a three-run third against reliever Todd Coffey (0-2), whose walk to Pujols forced home the game's first run after two scoreless innings by Jamey Wright, a 17-year veteran who will be used in middle relief this season.
Notes: Both teams mutually agreed that all three of these games will go a full nine innings, even if the home team is leading after 8 1/2. ... In 26 1/3 innings this spring, Haren struck out 25 and walked only two batters - Travis Hafner and reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun. ... Dodgers LHP Ted Lilly, who will begin his 14th big league season on the DL because of a stiff neck, threw close to 70 pitches in a simulated game. He's scheduled to throw a bullpen session on April 8, and another one six days later.
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