Notes: Kotchman coming back strong
Escobar happy with debut; Gwyn making case for rotation
TEMPE, Ariz. -- With his bat, if not his words, Casey Kotchman detailed Sunday how he's prepared to do everything in his power to make up for a lost year and flourish as the Angels' first baseman.Facing All-Star left-hander Chris Capuano, Kotchman smoked a homer leading off the second inning at Tempe Diablo Stadium, his first of the spring. He followed that with a single through the middle against right-hander Ben Hendrickson in the third. The Angels went on to beat the Brewers, 5-4, and go to 4-0 in the Cactus League on Reggie Willits' RBI single in the ninth after a leadoff single by Kendry Morales. "I'm consuming my thoughts with my work ethic, and not anything else," the understated Kotchman said. "I'm all the way back, physically and endurance-wise. Now it's just a matter of continuing playing and putting some quality at-bats together." Limited by a bout of mononucleosis to 29 games in Anaheim last year, hitting .152 after a .278 debut in 47 games in 2005, Kotchman headed to Puerto Rico for winter ball the day after Thanksgiving, using it as a springboard to Spring Training. "I think it was definitely beneficial to be playing all the way up to the middle of January," Kotchman said. "I'm ready to go every day. My body feels good. The strength and endurance are there." So are the tools. The Angels liked his bat and glove enough to draft him in the first round, 13th overall, of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft out of Seminole (Fla.) High School, and they think he can mirror the careers of Wally Joyner and J.T. Snow in Anaheim. "There are some comparisons," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Kotch has the potential to have a career as long and productive as guys like Wally and J.T. "Kotch has a deep package at first base -- the ability to play first base, the ability to hit any pitchers and drive the ball. I think he's very confident. He needs to get his game together and keep it together. At first base, you're going to need production. On our club, you're going to look at production first." Smooth landing: Kelvim Escobar pitched two clean innings -- no runs, one hit, one hit batsman -- and again focused on getting good leg drive to complete his delivery without strain on his left knee. "Guys who use more leg drive -- Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens -- pitch a long time," Escobar said. "I'm making sure I'm going forward, working on landing on my front foot to take pressure off the knee." Escobar also worked on his wide assortment of pitches, throwing strikes with both his fastballs (two-seamers, four-seamers), his curveball, splitter, changeup and slider. "Thing I like most was the location of my fastball," Escobar said. "Hit my spot, work quick ... I did that. I want to keep doing what I've been doing the last few years -- be consistent, work hard, be healthy."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.