Notes: Halos think defense will be better
Addition of Matthews should cut down on outfield errors
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels are excited about the defensive team they'll be fielding in the upcoming season, which projects to be an improvement over the 2006 crew.
The club was last in fielding percentage in the American League last year and had an outfield that committed 23 errors. Vladimir Guerrero led the group with 11, the most by an American League outfielder. Five of Chone Figgins' 16 errors were in the outfield, while Garret Anderson did not commit one in 193 total chances.
That led to the shuffling of the deck in the offseason, with the acquisition of Gary Matthews Jr. and Figgins returning to third base.
"It's not just the errors, sometimes it's the plays you don't make. Sometimes you just focus on the unearned runs or the errors," manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think our outfield played probably a little higher level than it statistically showed. But there were some breakdowns, and part of it was getting an understanding of range in center with Figgy really being inexperienced to Vlad's knees in right. There were some breakdowns."
Scioscia said the outfield is acclimating quickly as a group, and the addition of Matthews should allow the team to be a bit more aggressive in its positioning.
"If Gary has that range there, the left fielder can stay home and it gives you a little coverage," Scioscia said. "There's going to be little subtleties in what [bench coach] Ron [Roenicke] will do in setting our outfield and prepping. We have options now."
Rehab report: The good news on Bartolo Colon (partially torn rotator cuff) is that he's progressing, but anything beyond that is guesswork.
The Angels are encouraged by how Colon is feeling and said he's beginning to show signs of starting his preparation for the year as opposed to simply rehabbing his right shoulder. Still, the point when Colon throws from a mound is uncertain. The club is hopeful that can happen before it breaks camp.
"Unless there are any setbacks, we'll see him off a mound before Spring Training is over," Scioscia said. "He's probably at almost the same spot that Jered [Weaver] is as far as his length and what his workout is. It will take as much work to step up Jered as it is Bart, but Jered [biceps tendinitis] might come quicker once he gets over his program and long tossing as far as getting on a mound because he's not quite as far removed as Bart was."
It is unlikely that Colon would pitch in a Cactus League game, Scioscia said, but the possibility exists for Colon to pitch in at least a simulated game and possibly a Minor League game. But the Angels want Colon to throw at least three bullpen sessions and a similar number of batting practice sessions against live hitters before exposing him to game conditions.
"We're not holding him back. Bart knows this is a significant injury, and once you experience that you understand the progression that takes place once you are in rehab," Scioscia said. "He understands that. We're not artificially holding him back. He's moved probably as aggressively as you could outline a player, and he's held up well."
Colon was 1-5 with a 5.11 ERA in 10 starts last season and went to the disabled list twice, his second shoulder injury in the past two seasons. Left-hander Joe Saunders will take Colon's spot in the rotation.
Weaver could get on the mound for the first time this spring as early as next week, Scioscia said.
On deck: The Angels will hold an intrasquad game Tuesday, with John Lackey starting. Other pitchers will include Kelvim Escobar, Hector Carrasco and Dustin Moseley. Ervin Santana will start the Cactus League opener against the Royals on Thursday.
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.