ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia called a closed-door meeting after Sunday's game and had reason to be angry. His team had just dropped two of three to the last-place Mariners, giving the Angels eight losses in their last 11 tries while they continued to slide in the American League West standings after working so hard to get out of their April funk.In times like these, Scioscia's meetings tend to be very loud and very colorful, but this one was different. He kept it light, talked only positively and mostly reminded the players that as badly as they've played, their goal of making it back to the playoffs is still very much within reach. Several members of the Angels came away pleasantly surprised. "He was different," one player said. "He was totally different. He was serious, funny, outgoing. It was awesome. Everybody loved it. And when we left yesterday after that game, after that meeting, everybody was feeling great." "Totally unexpected," another player said. "I think it was definitely a positive. I think we needed it." Scioscia didn't reveal any details about the 20-minute talk with his players, only confirming that it took place and that he felt it was necessary. "You kind of get a strong sense sometimes if there's kind of a wave of frustration going through your team, or maybe you're hitting some dog days and guys just can't see their way through what seems like just tough stretches," Scioscia said. "I think at times, you have to get some things out there for the whole team." The Angels are in need of good vibrations, considering they entered the week eight games back of the Rangers with only 47 games left. They were also two back of the second Wild Card spot, but this year -- with Wild Card teams only guaranteed a one-game playoff against one another -- winning a division is at a premium. The Angels, at least, have a couple of respected veterans who have completed longer climbs than the ones they currently face. In 2006, Torii Hunter was on a Twins team that trailed by 8 1/2 games in the AL Central as late as Aug. 17, then came all the way back to take the division title on the final day. And last year, Albert Pujols' Cardinals were 8 1/2 back of a Wild Card spot on Sept. 5 before sneaking into the playoffs and ultimately winning the World Series. "It helps out a lot," Hunter said of having two veterans who have been through that. "Obviously, [Pujols is] not panicking, and I'm not going to panic because I've seen it, I've felt it. I've touched it before. And he's touched it before." "Every ballclub goes through this," Pujols added. "I mean, Texas just went through this, Oakland -- everybody. Everybody has to go through this for you to be a championship ballclub. If everything is roses, then there's nothing to help you grow and get better at."
Wilson OK after latest barehanded attempt
ANAHEIM -- Angels starter C.J. Wilson has a dangerous habit of using his pitching hand to attempt fielding comebackers. In Monday's 6-2 loss to the Indians, that act forced him to exit his start a little earlier than he might've -- but it isn't expected to affect him moving forward.Wilson used his left hand to try and field a hard line drive off the bat of Lou Marson with two outs in the seventh, but missed the catch and got nicked up. After being checked on by manager Mike Scioscia and the training staff, Wilson left the game -- granted, with 103 pitches already under his belt -- but X-rays revealed it only as a bruise. He should be ready to go when his turn comes back around on Saturday, against the Rays. "We went to the hospital and checked it out and they said it was just bruised and stuff; maybe some blood vessels that have been busted or whatever," Wilson said, after giving up three runs in 6 2/3 innings but failing to get a win for his ninth straight start. "It's just a little discolored, but the swelling has already gone down and the grip strength is fine."
Kendrys moves back into cleanup spot
ANAHEIM -- On July 17, Angels manager Mike Scioscia finally decided to commit to Mark Trumbo as his full-time cleanup hitter behind Albert Pujols, dropping designated hitter Kendrys Morales to the No. 5 spot.That lasted less than a month. On Monday, for the series opener against the Indians, the surging Morales was back in the No. 4 spot against righty Justin Masterson, with the slumping Trumbo moving back to fifth. Morales, with a better feel for the bat since going without batting gloves and a better feel for pitches with more repetition, is batting .372 (16-for-43) with six homers and 12 RBIs over his last 10 starts. Trumbo, meanwhile, hit .213 with a .278 on-base percentage while slugging .360 after being placed in the cleanup spot. Asked if he feels Trumbo put too much pressure on himself to produce as the full-time cleanup hitter, Scioscia said: "He has a sense of urgency when it comes to production. Maybe he was taking too much on. But I don't know if that's the whole story. I think, at times, you're going to go through the ebbs and flows of a season, you're going to maybe have your ups and downs, and right now it's a little bit of a down turn." Trumbo will probably continue to bat cleanup against lefties, which usually prompts the switch-hitting Morales to sit.
Downs, Walden near returns to bullpen
ANAHEIM -- Angels lefty reliever Scott Downs, out since July 27 with a strained left shoulder, felt good coming off his first bullpen session on Sunday and is set for another one on Tuesday.Angels manager Mike Scioscia said that session "might roll into a simulated game," which would make him awfully close to returning to the Angels' beleaguered bullpen. Scioscia previously said he doesn't believe Downs will need to go out on a rehab assignment. Jordan Walden, sidelined since July 8 with injuries to his neck and right biceps, will pitch in his second rehab game for Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday night -- two days after giving up four runs (two earned) in two-thirds of an inning. Asked if this could be his last tuneup before rejoining the team, Scioscia said: "We're going to see. The last one was good, but showed he needed more work. This one, we're going to evaluate the same way and see where he is." Since the start of July, the Angels' bullpen has a 5.22 ERA, which is by far the highest in the American League.
With his two-run shot in the eighth inning on Monday, Albert Pujols became just the ninth player in Major League history to hit 25 or more homers in 12 consecutive seasons.
The Angels have signed veteran right-hander Tony Pena to a Minor League contract. Pena, 30, posted a 4.43 ERA while compiling 313 appearances (three starts) for the D-backs and White Sox from 2006-11. Pena was signed to pitch for Triple-A Salt Lake, but is rehabbing in Arizona from Tommy John surgery and isn't expected to pitch for roughly 10 more days. The Angels, along with AM 830 and the Angels Baseball Foundation, will host their third cooking challenge on Thursday. Trumbo, Ernesto Frieri, Peter Bourjos, Kevin Jepsen and LaTroy Hawkins will compete, getting matched up with local chefs in hopes of winning the approval of judges. Former players Troy Percival and Rod Carew will serve as "special guests." The event will be held at the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT. Tickets can be purchased at am830.net. The Angels' wives are partnering with the OC Animal Care Center of Orange, Calif., to host the fifth Angels for Animals night at Angel Stadium on Friday. From 5 p.m. PT through the second inning, Angels wives will sell $40 mystery bags containing a baseball signed by an Angels player or coach, as well as $5 raffle tickets to win other autographed items. Proceeds will go towards the Animal Care Center and Angels Baseball Foundation. Fans will also have a chance to meet many of the animals up for adoption at the Animal Care Center. Following Saturday's game coverage, FOX Sports West will do a special re-airing of Game 7 of the 2002 World Series, as part of the Angels' celebration of the 10th anniversary of that championship team.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com Read his columns and 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.