The best shortstop the Angels have might be their second baseman. However, after discussing whether to move Adam Kennedy to shortstop, they have decided to keep him at second base.
Kennedy, an All-American shortstop at Cal State Northridge, played the position for most of his minor league career, still takes ground balls there before games and would love another chance to play there.
“If they came to me, I would definitely put everything I have into it,” Kennedy said Saturday, before the Angels’ game with the Kansas City Royals was rained out.
With David Eckstein and Alfredo Amezaga injured and the Angels deciding whether to promote a triple-A utilityman or double-A prospect to help at shortstop, Manager Mike Scioscia said the team considered -- but decided against -- moving Kennedy from second base ahead of stopgap shortstop and prospective center fielder Chone Figgins.
And, as the Angels evaluate options for shortstop next year, including Amezaga and pending free agents Kazuo Matsui and Miguel Tejada, Kennedy could provide another. Although Eckstein’s below-average arm strength could make him a better fit at second base, the Angels have rejected the idea of Eckstein and Kennedy flipping positions, perhaps the best chance for both to start in Anaheim next season.
“I think Adam would be better at shortstop right now than he would have been five years ago, because of his experience at second base,” Scioscia said, “but I don’t see us moving ahead by doing that.”
Said infield coach Alfredo Griffin: “You don’t mess with him moving to another position after he’s worked so hard to become one of the best second basemen in the league.”
The Angels and Royals are scheduled to play a doubleheader today, but rain remains in the forecast. The teams have no common off days remaining, so rain today could force the Angels to make a one-day trip to Kansas City on Sept. 29, the day after the regular season ends.
Although the Royals play in Anaheim next weekend, when Scioscia would prefer to play a makeup game or two, Royal President Dan Glass said Saturday that the commissioner’s office would allow the Royals to play at home, if necessary to determine their playoff fate.
The fans most disappointed by Saturday’s rainout were not in Kansas City but in Harrogate, Tenn., home of Lincoln Memorial University. The Division II school, with an enrollment of 2,000, has fielded a baseball team since 1910 but produced only two major leaguers -- Scot Shields of the Angels and Brad Voyles of the Royals. The two were the scheduled starting pitchers Saturday.
“It’s a huge milestone for us,” said Rusty Peace, the school’s sports information director. “It makes us proud to be Railsplitters.”
The school nickname stems from a hobby of President Lincoln -- that is, splitting rails by chopping them. Alas, Shields is scheduled to start the first game today and Voyles the second.
At a time the Angels have bucked the industry-wide trend of limiting pitch counts of minor leaguers, they have shut down five top minor league pitchers because of arm soreness over the last month.
While the Angels believe strict pitch counts run counter to building arm strength, General Manager Bill Stoneman said he has reviewed minor league pitch counts and found none “unusually high.”
He said he plans to convene trainers and coaches this fall to determine whether to revise conditioning programs and techniques for teaching deliveries.
With rosters expanding Monday, the Angels will promote pitchers Kevin Gregg and Derrick Turnbow from triple-A Salt Lake. Scioscia said the Angels would promote another one or two players, to be announced.