Earlier today, colleague Steve Dilbeck predicted “23 Things That Are Positively Guaranteed to Happen This Spring” in Dodgers camp. In the spirit of equal time, and with Angels pitchers and catchers reporting Thursday, I offer these 18 predictions — sorry, no guarantees — for Angels camp:
Mike Trout will say that he plans to attack the first pitch more often and be more aggressive on the basepaths. By mid-April he will resort to his usual approach — patient in the box, careful on the bases. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
- Albert Pujols will say he has no doubt he will be ready by opening day. Manager Mike Scioscia will say the team is taking a conservative approach to the slugger’s rehabilitation from right foot surgery. The two will settle it with an arm-wrestling match in the clubhouse.
Closer Huston Street will go on a lengthy rant about the evils of FIP (fielding independent pitching) and xFIP (expected fielding independent pitching). Fellow reliever Joe Smith will roll his eyes, and reporters will scramble for the clubhouse door, saying they just received phone calls they have to take.
Owner Arte Moreno will be asked why he didn’t pursue one of the big-name free-agent outfielders — Jason Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton, Alex Gordon — this winter. He will spend 10 minutes answering the question … without really answering the question.
Mike Morin will admit to pitching hurt for much of a sub-par 2015 season. Then he will gain the command and consistency of his fastball-changeup mix and seize the seventh-inning relief role.
Andrelton Simmons will be asked to answer a question in each of the four languages he speaks — Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamento, the local dialect of his native Curacao. The new shortstop will gladly oblige.
General Manager Billy Eppler will deny all spring that he is trying to trade one of his eight major league-caliber starting pitchers because he likes his rotation depth. By late April, one of the pitchers will be dealt.
Scioscia will be asked early in camp whom he envisions in the leadoff spot. “Do I have to have my lineup in today?” he will say.
C.J. Wilson will discuss last summer’s elbow surgery and ensuing rehabilitation in great kinesiological detail and then tell reporters, “You guys wouldn’t understand.”
Pujols will say how much he misses good buddy Erick Aybar, who was traded to Atlanta last November. Simmons will make one of his trademark dazzling plays in the hole, fire a long laser to first, and Pujols will ask, “Erick who?”
Jered Weaver will be asked for the 7,458th time if he is concerned about the loss of velocity on his fastball. “Next question,” he will say.
First baseman Ji-Man Choi, a Rule 5 pick from South Korea, will try to explain how he was tabbed with one of the coolest names in baseball.
When it becomes clear late in camp that there is no room for him in the rotation, Matt Shoemaker will be moved to the bullpen, where his superb command and sharp split-fingered fastball could be a valuable relief weapon.
Daniel Nava will struggle early in exhibition play to be the left fielder Angels fans pined for. When he realizes he needs to be only an upgrade over a left-field group that produced a major league-worst .592 OPS last season, he will relax and hit more like the guy who was a productive Boston Red Sox outfielder in 2013-14.
It will be clear by the second week of March that Scioscia is lining up Garrett Richards to pitch opening day, but Scioscia will be the last manager in baseball to announce his opening-day starter.
New catcher Geovany Soto will raise eyebrows with his odd throwing ritual, in which he falls forward every time he tosses the ball to the pitcher and appears to grab some dirt and wipe off home plate after each pitch. Then he will explain to another set of reporters that he doesn’t suffer from some version of the “yips.”
Tyler Skaggs will be so excited to be on the field after missing the entire 2015 season because of Tommy John surgery that his teammates will declare him a Gold Glove Award winner in pitchers’ fielding practice (PFP).
- A non-Angels beat writer will ask Scioscia about the “pitcher-catcher relationship.” Those who regularly cover the team will go into a kind of hypnotic trance, snapping out of it 15 minutes later when Scioscia is done answering and not remembering a word Scioscia said.
Follow Mike DiGiovanna on Twitter @MikeDiGiovanna.