Kazmir sharp in spring finale, Angels win 5-1
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Torii Hunter(notes) is thrilled to have spring training in his rearview mirror, and he can’t wait to help the Los Angeles Angels rebound from their first losing season since 2003.
Hunter went 3 for 3 with a homer and four RBIs, Howie Kendrick(notes) doubled home a run, and the Angels wrapped up their spring training schedule with a 5-1 victory over the Dodgers on Tuesday night.
“I’m glad it’s over with, man. There’s no more time to waste your hits,” Hunter said. “We had a nice long spring, we worked hard and we played pretty good together. Now the bell’s about to ring on Thursday and we’re just excited to get it going.”
The Angels scored 681 runs last season, 202 fewer than the club-record total in 2009, and their .248 team batting average was their lowest since 1992. As a result, they finished 80-82 and the Texas Rangers ended their run of three straight AL West titles.
“Our goal is to try to take it away from them, and I’m pretty optimistic about it,” Hunter said. “Last year was kind of like a slap in the face for everybody. What we went through last year was just not us.
“We struggled and we had injuries. We had six free agents and four of them were key guys, and the chemistry in the clubhouse was tinkered with a little bit. It just didn’t feel right. But this year in spring training, we felt like the camaraderie was there. Vernon Wells(notes) fit in right away, so I’m pretty positive going into the season.”
Hunter, who was 15 for 45 this spring with four homers and nine RBIs, had run-scoring singles his first two times up against Hiroki Kuroda(notes) and added a two-run homer against lefty Scott Elbert(notes). Last season, the four-time All-Star batted .281 with 23 homers and 90 RBIs.
“If you look at my track record, every year at the end of the season my numbers have been the same. But I don’t look for numbers,” Hunter said. “I will never talk about numbers, man. All I care about is the World Series.”
Scott Kazmir(notes) pitched 4 1-3 innings and allowed three hits including a leadoff homer by Rod Barajas(notes). The left-hander, whose season debut is scheduled for Sunday at Kansas City, was 1-2 with a 6.65 ERA in six starts this spring. Last Thursday, he gave eight hits and 10 runs—eight earned—against the Milwaukee Brewers in an 11-8 loss at Tempe, Ariz.
“It was a good tuneup. I felt good out there and threw all of my pitches,” Kazmir said. “I just stayed focused. There’s things that I’m trying to do to progress, and I feel like I’m on track. I felt like all of these starts were really little stepping stones.”
Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda gave up three runs and seven hits over four innings in a tuneup for his debut Sunday against San Francisco. The loss made him 0-3 with a 5.88 ERA in six spring starts.
The Halos completed a two-game sweep of their Freeway Series appetizer. The teams are scheduled for a three-game series June 24-26 at Dodger Stadium and three more July 1-3 at the Big A.
The Angels will open the season Thursday in Kansas City, and their home opener is April 8 against Toronto. New left fielder Vernon Wells will face the team he spent his first 12 big league seasons with before he was traded to the Angels on Jan. 21 for Mike Napoli(notes) and Juan Rivera(notes).
The Dodgers conclude their exhibition schedule Wednesday night against Seattle at Chavez Ravine before opening their first season under manager Don Mattingly with a nationally televised home game Thursday night against the World Series champion Giants.
“It’s a new year, that’s for sure,” Mattingly said. “To be honest, every club in baseball right now has got a good attitude and feels pretty good about their team and all that stuff. Last year is over and it was a learning experience for the whole team. We went home over the winter and came back with a new outlook. All signs and indications up to this point have shown that.”
Notes: Dodgers head trainer Stan Conte was not with the team, having spent Tuesday in San Francisco testifying in Barry Bonds’ perjury trial. The former Giants slugger is charged with lying to a grand jury when he denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs. Conte, the Giants’ head trainer during seven of his 15 years with them, gave detailed and damaging accounts of Bonds’ daily activities with his personal trainers, Greg Anderson and Harvey Shields—whom Conte had attempted to ban from the clubhouse.