Defector attracts interest


The Angels plan to take a look at Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban defector with the 100-mph fastball . . . if he is willing to face a hitter.

Chapman was granted free agency Friday. The Angels will join the stampede to scout the 22-year-old left-hander, with the New York Yankees, New York Mets and Boston Red Sox among the clubs expected to rush in as well.

“I’m sure we’ll be interested,” Angels scouting director Eddie Bane said. “I think everybody will be interested.”


Bane said he has heard that Chapman might throw for scouts in a bullpen session or two, then invite offers.

“That’s not going to get it done,” Bane said. “Nobody’s going to invest that kind of money in a guy off a bullpen, and that includes us.”

When the Angels bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka three years ago, they had video and in-person scouting reports from Japan. They have collected similar information on Japanese phenom Yu Darvish, should Darvish become available to major league teams.

Chapman pitched in two World Baseball Classic games last spring, against Australia and Japan, going 0-1 with a 5.68 earned-run average. He gave up four runs, walked four and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings.

“He didn’t get everybody out. He did throw hard,” Bane said. “That’s why we’ve got to see him.”

The Angels want to see him face live batters to see how he reacts. They want to get a sense for how he might react when a teammate’s error or an umpire’s call hurts him. Bottom line: It’s nice to have a 100-mph fastball, but that alone does not warrant a contract to rival the one John Lackey might get in free agency this fall.

“Alan Embree had a nice career but was not what everybody hoped he’d be when he was throwing 100 mph -- a dominating left-handed starter,” Bane said. “Velocity is great, but we’ll have to see some other stuff.”

Getting loose

Jered Weaver said the upper-back stiffness that hampered him in Friday night’s loss to Oakland loosened up with a 25-minute run through the stadium concourse Saturday afternoon, and he expected the knot in his scapula to dissipate with further treatment.

Weaver gave up only two runs and six hits in six innings of a 3-0 loss, but he struck out only one, his lowest strikeout total in 54 starts, and his fastball hovered in the 87-mph range, a few ticks down from his usual 90-mph range.

“Everything was erratic,” Weaver said. “I had no command of my fastball. I was cutting things off, and the ball wasn’t making it to the plate. There was something wrong with my extension. I could tell I was restricted in what I could do.”

The right-hander does not think the stiffness will set him back.

“I get it every year,” Weaver said. “I was trying to escape it this year.”

Weaver, the only Angels starter who has not missed a turn in the rotation this season, is 15-8 with a 3.84 ERA and has thrown 206 innings, the first time he has passed the 200-inning mark. His previous high was 176 2/3 innings last season.

“I’m not going to lie to you and say there have been no effects,” Weaver said. “It’s a long season, and this is my first time through it, but I feel strong. Nothing is hurting me.”