ANAHEIM -- The Angels opened up what's probably a make-or-break nine-game homestand against the Rangers on Tuesday, but Albert Pujols wasn't with them. The Angels' first baseman stayed back in Kansas City to be with his wife and his new baby girl, who was born in the wee hours of Sunday morning.Though the Angels are in a down-the-stretch chase for the playoffs, and every game is of utmost importance, manager Mike Scioscia believes "there's no doubt Albert is where he needs to be." "I'm speaking for myself," he added. "You can ask other people in our organization, but I'm sure we're all on the same page with that." Pujols is expected to be back in the starting lineup on Wednesday. His wife, Deidre, had the couple's fifth child and third daughter, Esther Grace, at 3:30 a.m. CT on Sunday. Luckily for Pujols, and his team, the Angels were playing a series in Kansas City, where Deidre's parents live, so Pujols was able to be with his wife for the birth and then, with little sleep, serve as the designated hitter for the series finale at Kauffman Stadium. The plan originally didn't call for Pujols to miss Tuesday's game, which came after the Monday off-day, but as Scioscia said, "Anybody who's ever wanted to get their baby cleared to get out of the hospital, you know sometimes there's things that take some time." Scioscia added that "everything seems like it went very smoothly." "The plan was, whenever he got things settled, he was going to play with us," Scioscia said. "The fact that we were in Kansas City, she had the baby in Kansas City, made it easier for him to play on Sunday. And then taking care of the matter, he needed yesterday and today to take care of them. But believe me, we're 100 percent behind what he needs to do for his family." Minus Pujols, batting .282 with 30 homers and 96 RBIs on the year, Torii Hunter hit in the No. 3 spot and Kendrys Morales played first base as the cleanup hitter against Rangers righty Ryan Dempster. The Angels enter the week three games behind the Orioles for the second American League Wild Card spot, with 15 games left. "We've gone through stretches of the season where he's been hurt or hasn't been available, but for a family matter like this, there's no doubt that he's where he needs to be," Scioscia said. "I think our lineup is deep and hopefully on the offensive side, we're going to absorb it and do what we need to do."
Wilson recognized with Clemente Award nomination
ANAHEIM -- C.J. Wilson has been named the Angels' nominee for the 2012 Roberto Clemente Award, which represents Major League Baseball's primary avenue for recognizing players' philanthropic efforts.Thirty players were nominated on Tuesday -- one per club -- and nine of them were All-Stars in 2012, including the Orioles' Jim Johnson, the White Sox's Jake Peavy, the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, the Cardinals' Matt Holliday, the Giants' Matt Cain, the Mariners' Felix Hernandez, the Rays' David Price and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. Fans can take part in voting for the national award through Oct. 4 at MLB.com/ClementeAward. The winner of the fan poll will receive one vote among those cast by a selection panel. "I am honored to have my off-the-field work recognized," Wilson said in a statement. "To be on a list with these other distinguished players is a testament to how important it is for Major League Baseball players to give back and be a positive factor in their communities." The Clemente Award, named after the Hall of Famer who died in a plane crash while delivering supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua 30 years ago, is presented by Chevrolet and "pays tribute to Clemente's achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others," according to a release. Wilson, recognized on the field prior to Tuesday's game against the Rangers, gives back via a children's charity under his own name and is also involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Huntington Valley, Calif., where he was a member from 9 to 11 years old. In honor of Wilson being a Clemente Award nominee, the Angels and Chevrolet will present that Boys & Girls Club with a $7,500 donation. "We are proud to nominate a player who gives his maximum effort both on and off the field," Angels chairman Dennis Kuhl said in a statement. "It has been a pleasure to witness C.J. giving back to the community that gave him so much as a child growing up in Orange County."
Angels' playoff fate not entirely in their hands
ANAHEIM -- An oft-used cliche for teams in the hunt this time of year is, "We control our own destiny."But the Angels can't use that line. Because in order to make up the three-game gap that sits between them and the Orioles for the second Wild Card spot in the American League, the Angels need help. Gone are head-to-head matchups against the teams in front of them -- unless you count a Rangers club that's 7 1/2 games better in the AL West -- making it very possible that the Angels play their best ball the rest of the way and still miss the playoffs. It's a rather helpless feeling. "That's not the way I view it," Angels slugger Mark Trumbo said. "I think the sentiment probably of most of the guys is just try and finish up as strong as we can. The fact that we really don't have a lot of wiggle room as far as playing teams that we can directly impact, that's kind of a tough deal. But that's the way it is. You play this many games, you're going to have to live with the spots that you're in. We've had our chances and done some good things, and there were some games that got away from us. But all that you can ask for is to be in it, and that's where we are." Through 147 games, the Angels sport a .544 winning percentage. If they play to that percentage the rest of the way, they'll finish 88-74 -- which means they'd need the O's to finish 5-10 just to tie for the second AL Wild Card spot. If the Angels go 10-5, they'll need the O's to go no better than 7-8. And if the O's win 12 of their last 15 games, the Angels would have to go 15-0 just to match them. Angels manager Mike Scioscia often says, "Our focus is in-house." But even he admits scoreboard watching is now a big part of the day-to-day routine. "There's a time it's relevant and a time it's not relevant," Scioscia said. "It's relevant now." The Orioles have two more games in Seattle, then three over the weekend in Boston, then host the Blue Jays for four, host the Red Sox for three and finish the season with three against the Rays in St. Petersburg. The Angels seemingly have a tougher road. They host the Rangers for three, the White Sox for three and the Mariners for three, then play a three-game set in Texas and another one in Seattle to finish the season. "The only way we can go about it is to control what we can control," Scioscia said. "You can call it cliches, you can call it whatever you want, but that's where we are. We need to continue to win, and put ourselves in a position to take advantage if other teams don't play at a certain level. And of the teams we have to catch, they have to earn it, too. They have to go out there and win."
Scioscia not concerned with job status
ANAHEIM -- Angels owner Arte Moreno and general manager Jerry Dipoto have publicly backed manager Mike Scioscia. But with the Angels three games back of the second American League Wild Card spot with 15 games left, putting them in serious danger of missing the playoffs for a third straight season despite sporting a club-record $154 million payroll in 2012, questions continue to surface about Scioscia's job status, even though he's under contract through 2018.Prior to Tuesday's series opener against the Rangers at Angel Stadium, Scioscia was asked if he's "feeling any extra heat" with the season winding down. "It's cooled off, compared to what was it, 102 the other day?" Scioscia quipped. "This is nice, and especially for fat guys, we don't do well in that 102-degree weather. So, I'm good." Was it simply a joke, or an attempt to deflect what's becoming a touchy subject, or both? Hard to tell. But there's little doubt that this year, Scioscia's job status has been questioned by fans and media far more than at any point during his 13-year tenure in Anaheim. If the Angels indeed fall short of the playoffs, will the Angels' long-time skipper be bought out? There's no telling. "That's not a question for me," Scioscia, who signed a 10-year extension before the '09 season, said when asked once more. "I go about my business, and our staff goes about our business, the same way every day. The passion's there. At times, the results haven't been what we had hoped for this season, but that doesn't change anything I'm doing on a daily basis, I can tell you that."
Izturis returns from torso strain
ANAHEIM -- Angels reserve infielder Maicer Izturis, out since suffering a strain in his left rib cage area on Sept. 8, returned to action Tuesday, notching an RBI groundout while serving as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of an 11-3 win over the Rangers.
Izturis, who entered with a .253/.320/.317 slash line in 91 games this season, took batting practice on Sunday in Kansas City and participated in pregame activities with the rest of his team at Angel Stadium on Tuesday.
"I feel good," he said in Spanish pregame. "I've been getting a lot of treatment and I feel I'm ready to go."
Angels center fielder Mike Trout already appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and he's set to appear on the cover of the latest edition of ESPN The Magazine, which hits newsstands Friday. The shot will be a close-up of Trout, in full uniform and looking seriously into the camera, under the headline "Magic Mike."
The Angels recently announced a new player-development contract through 2014 with their Double-A affiliate in Arkansas, which has been partnered with the Angels in 2001. However, the Angels are likely to lose their Class A affiliate in Cedar Rapids.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.