Angels hoping to stay together

ANAHEIM, Calif. — After a season that began with a tragedy and ended in bittersweet defeat for the Los Angeles Angels, manager Mike Scioscia was left thinking about what his team accomplished and what it left undone during perhaps his longest year in baseball.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — After a season that began with a tragedy and ended in bittersweet defeat for the Los Angeles Angels, manager Mike Scioscia was left thinking about what his team accomplished and what it left undone during perhaps his longest year in baseball.

“It’s tough to get a silver lining when you’re knocked out,” Scioscia said after the Angels’ final loss to the New York Yankees in Game 6 of the AL championship series on Sunday night. “It was a series that we had high expectations for, and we didn’t get it done.

“But I think as we reflect on this, after a couple of days, just look at all the great things that happened on the field for us, the trials and tribulations that the guys in that clubhouse went through all year is something that you hope you never have to go through in your lifetime again.”

The Angels took the long way home Monday, making a late flight back to Orange County before packing up their lockers Tuesday. Seven Angels are eligible for free agency, including ace John Lackey and slugger Vladimir Guerrero, while several others such as Gary Matthews Jr. won’t be back if any deal can be made for them.

Los Angeles had barely settled into the chase for its fifth AL West title in six seasons last April when pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed in a car accident allegedly caused by a drunk driver. The popular 22-year-old’s death, just a few hours after making a strong season debut, cast a pall that weighed on the team for several weeks afterward, yet ultimately became a rallying point for his saddened teammates.

The Angels celebrated with Adenhart’s jersey when they clinched their third straight division title, and several players mentioned his constant influence all the way to the ALCS.

“I know that’s what will stand out in this season — what we were able to do for Nick,” Jered Weaver said recently. “I think we’re proud of the way we came together and won the division and did some good things in the playoffs.”

The Angels won 97 games before sweeping Boston out of the division series, emphatically chasing away a persistent playoff nemesis. That strong play didn’t continue in the ALCS, where the Angels looked amateurish at times despite stretching the series to six games with two narrow wins at Angel Stadium.

After leading the majors during the regular season with a .285 batting average, the Angels hit just .236 against the Yankees, repeatedly failing to come through in key situations. After setting a club record with just 85 errors in the regular season, they made eight against New York, including two in the eighth inning of Game 6 to give insurance to Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.

“It’s tough for me,” said Torii Hunter, who became the Angels’ unofficial captain with his leadership during a standout season. “I’ve been battling those guys, those Yankees, for years, in Minnesota, and then come over here, same thing. So I’m used to getting beat down by those guys.”

The Angels are in for changes after evaluating their free-agent class: Guerrero, Lackey, leadoff man Chone Figgins, outfielder Bobby Abreu, veteran Robb Quinlan and pitchers Darren Oliver and Kelvim Escobar.

Lackey is likely to be the top starter on the market, and his bulldog performances in the playoffs only increased his value. He hasn’t sounded particularly sentimental about sticking with his only major league team since winning Game 7 of the World Series in 2002, and he seems almost certain to go to the highest bidder — which has rarely been the Angels in recent years, despite their consistent bids for baseball’s top free agents.

Guerrero also could depart after wrapping up his six-year contract with a gradual decline in his production, skills — and even memory, if his attempt to take first base on a three-ball count in Game 6 is any indication. The 35-year-old says he’d like to return, citing his mother’s comfort living in nearby Anaheim Hills, but he’d have to take a pay cut after getting 15 homers and 50 RBIs during his injury-plagued season.

“Right now I don’t know anything,” Guerrero said after Game 6. “Sometimes they talk to your agent, and the agent doesn’t tell you anything. … Sometimes I have to think about my mother, since she feels good being in Anaheim. Nothing is close to happening. I just have to wait for it to happen.”

Figgins also could be gone, although his 3-for-35 performance in the playoffs might drive down the offers for a usually consistent leadoff hitter.

“I hope it’s not,” Figgins said of the possibility he had just played his last game with Los Angeles. “I mean, that’s yet to be seen. I’m just trying to reflect on the good things that happened through the season and worry about that stuff later.”

The Angels are eager to re-sign Abreu after getting him late in the spring for a bargain-basement US$5 million, and the veteran seems amenable to a return.

But no matter which free agents stay and which must be replaced, Los Angeles will return a talented core. The rotation is solid with Weaver, Joe Saunders, Scott Kazmir and Ervin Santana, while a lineup can be built around breakout youngsters Kendry Morales and Juan Rivera supplementing Hunter, who’s already eager to chase the Yankees again in 2010.

“Those guys play well, and I know they’ve got all those guys locked up for 20 years,” Hunter said. “So it’s going to be a mountain to climb, trying to get past those guys.”

.

Just Posted

Parenting: Every woman will have a different pregnancy experience

Wife whose hormones are unbalanced can be unpleasant experience

Men posing as repo men attempt to steal vehicle in Red Deer County

Two men attempted to steal a utility vehicle from a Red Deer… Continue reading

Red Deerian spreads kindness with one card at a time

One Red Deerian wants to combat bullying by spreading kindness in the… Continue reading

Bowden baby in need of surgery

“Help for Alexis” Go Fund Me account

PHOTO: First Rider bus safety in Red Deer

Central Alberta students learned bus safety in the Notre Dame High School… Continue reading

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard’s alleged sex offences case returns to court

TORONTO — The case of Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard, who faces three… Continue reading

Fredericton woman recounts terrifying moments after gunshots rang out

FREDERICTON — She awoke to the crack of gunfire, the shots fired… Continue reading

Climate change likely to cause more sewage leaks, McKenna says

OTTAWA — More than one hundred municipal wastewater systems did not report… Continue reading

Woman has finger ripped off at West Edmonton Mall waterslide

SASKATOON — A Saskatchewan woman says she lost a finger after her… Continue reading

Uncertainty looms over Canada’s cannabis tourism, but ambitions are high

TORONTO — Longtime marijuana advocate Neev Tapiero is ready for the cannabis-driven… Continue reading

Feds mulling safeguards to prevent ‘surge’ of cheap steel imports into Canada

OTTAWA — The federal government extended an olive branch of sorts to… Continue reading

Ontario govt caps off summer session by passing bill to cut Toronto council size

TORONTO — The Ontario government passed a controversial bill to slash the… Continue reading

Updated:Italian bridge collapse sends cars plunging, killing 26

MILAN — A 51-year-old highway bridge in the Italian port city of… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month