ANAHEIM -- Angels right-hander Daren Haren has been uncharacteristically off his game so far this season.After giving up four runs in six innings in a 5-0 loss to the Athletics on Monday, the Angels' No. 2 starter is 1-4 with a 4.41 ERA and has failed to notch a quality start in four of his first eight outings. Last time out, en route to giving up five runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Twins, Haren reported tightness in his lower back. This time, he felt fine. He just didn't have good stuff. "My command wasn't there," Haren said. "I was nibbling a little bit around the plate, got into some bad counts. I have to be better than that. That's the bottom line. I am better than that. I'll come out of this rut stronger. I know I'm a better pitcher than this; just have to make the proper pitches and execute." Haren, among baseball's most consistent pitchers over the previous seven years, amazingly went through the 2011 season with less walks (33) than starts (34). But after issuing four on Monday (one of which was intentional), he now has 13 walks in his first eight starts and 10 in a 24 2/3-inning span. "That's not me," Haren said. "I'm an aggressive pitcher; I attack the zone. I'm usually able to throw strikes with all my pitches, and today I just wasn't. I fell behind too many times."
Trumbo will be counted on with Torii away
ANAHEIM -- It's situations like these -- with Torii Hunter on the restricted list to handle a personal matter, and the team unsure of his return date -- when Mark Trumbo's value to the Angels only grows.Trumbo started in right field for Monday's series opener against the A's, and will likely continue to do so until Hunter rejoins the ballclub. And thanks to that, the Angels won't lose too much offensively. Trumbo may still be a project at third base, but through unmatched work ethic and a positive attitude, he has made himself suitable at five positions for manager Mike Scioscia -- both corner-infield spots, both corner-outfield spots and designated hitter. "Mark has a terrific attitude about it," Scioscia said. "... He understands the situation, he's a good athlete and he's shown well in the corner outfields and first base and he's picking up third base, and we'll see how it goes." Trumbo came into Monday's series opener against the Athletics leading the Angels in batting average (.321), homers (six), RBIs (16) and OPS (1.013). Usually, moving around so much tends to have a negative impact on one's production at the plate -- especially for someone in his second year in the big leagues. Not so with Trumbo. At least not yet. "Mark's pretty focused," Scioscia said. "Whether he's playing right field he's focused, or whether he's playing third base he's focused. On the defensive side, he's thinking about one thing, that's making plays. And then the other part works out for itself."
Angels host their honorary bat girl
ANAHEIM -- Judy Watts, now fully recovered from advanced Stage 3 breast cancer, finally got a chance to soak up Angel Stadium on Monday, when the club invited her to take part in pregame activities, meet the players and watch the Angels take on the Athletics from one of the club-level suites.In celebration of Mother's Day, and as part of an ongoing effort to bring breast cancer awareness, Major League Baseball once again asked each team to name a winner for their 2012 Honorary Bat Girl program, which recognizes baseball fans who have bravely taken on the disease. For the Angels, the choice was Watts -- a single mother, an English teacher, a volunteer umpire and a self-proclaimed "baseball nut." They hosted her Monday because the club was in Texas during Mother's Day on Sunday. "It's just incredible," Watts said from the Angels' dugout. "Completely humbled. I read everybody's profiles who tried to do this and can't believe I was chosen." Watts lived in Illinois -- where, coincidentally, she taught Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher at United Township High School in the early 1980s -- and instantly became an Angels fan upon moving west in 1996. Recently, she competed with more than 20 Angels fans in the essay contest, with a panel that included second baseman Howie Kendrick and fan votes choosing a winner on HonoraryBatGirl.com. Watts entered because she's a big Angels fan. She wanted to win because her 12-year-old son, Cameron, is an even bigger one. "He was my rock throughout the whole thing," Watts said, "and he's also a baseball nut, so it would be fun for both of us." Watts was diagnosed with breast cancer Aug. 9, 2010, and she finished her radiation treatments in June 2011. Her first post-surgery MRI exam in February revealed that she was cancer-free. "Let's hope it stays that way," she said.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and 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.