Stoneman still trying on moves
Unless Bill Stoneman can complete a trade for a bigger name in the next nine days, the Angels general manager’s latest move would further cement his reputation as an executive who does little before the trade deadline except reshuffle the margins of his roster.
The list of players the Angels have acquired in July in recent years includes reserve outfielder Alex Ochoa, reliever Gary Glover, minor league pitchers Scott Dunn and Tim Bittner and now Jeff Kennard, who is scheduled to report to double-A Arkansas after being obtained Saturday from the New York Yankees for catcher Jose Molina.
Of course, the inactivity shouldn’t be confused with indifference. Stoneman nearly acquired Baltimore shortstop Miguel Tejada last season before Orioles owner Peter Angelos backed out at the last minute, and he is mulling other possibilities as the 2007 deadline approaches.
“We still have other things we’re trying to do,” Stoneman said Sunday. “There are still some other discussions going on.... What we’re looking for is somebody to be an everyday guy and a guy to help us.”
Kennard won’t be that guy, at least not this season. But Stoneman described the 25-year-old right-hander as a reliever “with a really good arm and a really power sinker, which is his pitch.”
Stoneman said he was not concerned that Kennard became the first member of the Yankees organization to test positive for steroids in 2005 while pitching for Class-A Tampa. He was suspended for 15 games.
“It’s in the past, and nothing has happened negative since that point and time,” Stoneman said. “Hopefully, he’s learned his lesson and goes forward with it in a positive way.”
The departure of Molina leaves the Angels with a pair of catchers who have a combined 193 games of major league experience in Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli.
Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said the organization is confident that Mathis “is going to be a guy who we can move forward with.”
“It definitely feels good for them to make a spot for me to stay here and still be with this team,” Mathis said. “I’m just happy to have that opportunity.”
Gary Matthews Jr. said he experienced whiplash after crashing into the left-center field wall Saturday while trying to track down Joe Mauer’s eighth-inning drive that fell for an inside-the-park homer, describing it “like the morning after you get in a car crash.”
Matthews remained in the game after jamming his left wrist but was replaced in center field Sunday by Nathan Haynes.
With his batting average having dipped from .352 on June 23 to .301 after he was hitless in his first five at-bats against Minnesota, Reggie Willits was removed from the starting lineup Sunday in an attempt to let the struggling outfielder recharge.
Robb Quinlan started in left field, though Willits entered the game as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning and replaced Quinlan in left field in the bottom of the inning.
“I’m just trying to stay as positive as I can and not focus on so much the struggles as coming in and working as hard as I can to try and get out of it,” said Willits, whose average still ranks second among American League rookies despite a slump in which he is batting only .157 in July.