As the Philadelphia Phillies fired the longest-tenured manager in the National League, the longest-tenured manager in the American League said he wants to remain with the Angels.
“This is where I want to be,” Mike Scioscia said Friday. “This is what I am committed to.”
No major league manager has served his current team longer than Scioscia, who is in his 14th season with the Angels. However, after winning the American League West five times in the first six full seasons under owner Arte Moreno, the Angels are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
After Friday’s 8-2 loss to the Houston Astros, the Angels’ .446 winning percentage is the lowest of Scioscia’s tenure.
Moreno, asked whether he had decided if Scioscia and General Manager Jerry Dipoto would return next season, declined comment through a team spokesman.
The Phillies on Friday fired Charlie Manuel, who was on pace for the first losing season of his nine seasons in Philadelphia, and appointed Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg as interim manager.
Scioscia, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, said he had not even considered the possibility of managing the Phillies.
“It’s nothing I think about,” he said.
Scioscia said he is committed to returning the Angels to prominence. The Angels anticipated greatness when they signed Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in consecutive winters.
“We’re taking this thing hard,” Scioscia said. “We know we need to get better. That’s where our energy is going.”
Pujols played through an injured left foot until July 27. Hamilton has posted career lows in batting average (.226), on-base percentage (.280) and slugging percentage (.405).
Still, the Angels lead the AL West in runs scored. Yet their 4.51 earned-run average is the highest of any major league team except the Astros.
“There is absolutely no doubt among anybody in our organization: We need to pitch better,” Scioscia said. “That’s the first line of your defense, being able to execute pitches. We haven’t done that to the level we need to.
“I know Jerry is going to pay a lot of attention to that. I know we have the ability to rebound, and it absolutely correlates to knowing we can do a better job on the mound. It’s not like our offense doesn’t have potential. Even with Albert being banged up and Josh not doing what he is capable of doing, the offense capability is there.
“I don’t think anything that Arte has stated about wanting to be a perennial contender has changed. He has given us terrific teams. This one has struggled in some areas. We need to get better. It’s on all of us. It’s the staff. It’s myself. We only know one way to meet the challenge, and that is head-on.”
Pujols vs. Clark
Pujols declined Friday to confirm whether he still planned to pursue legal remedies against Jack Clark, who alleged on a St. Louis radio show that Pujols had used steroids.
“I don’t want to talk about that,” Pujols said.
Pujols said he stood by the statement he issued last week, in which he denied using performance-enhancing substances and said he was “in the process of taking legal action” against Clark and the radio station that aired his show.
Pujols said he did not wish to discuss the matter inside the Angels clubhouse.
“I think it’s disrespectful to bring that distraction here,” he said. “I said what I had to say in the statement.”
Pujols has not played since July 27, when he tore the plantar fascia tissue in his left foot. Pujols said his walking boot was removed Friday, for the first time in three weeks.
Even with the Angels out of pennant contention, Pujols said he hopes to return this season.
“I have a day in my mind,” he said, without saying what day.
The Angels activated center fielder Peter Bourjos, returning infielder Tommy Field to triple-A Salt Lake and returning Mike Trout to left field.
In 86 games in center field this season entering play Friday, Trout was batting .358 with a 1.090 OPS (on-base average plus slugging percentage).
In 37 games in left field, he was batting .278 with an .813 OPS.