Some lyrics from Jimmy Buffett’s hit song “Come Monday” explain why nobody in baseball is panicking with Opening Day is less than 48 hours away for most teams.
Spring training win-loss records aren’t much to lose sleep over — the Angels are 9-20 after losing Game 2 of the Freeway Series to the Dodgers on Friday night, 9-8. And there’s not a great deal of concern when a healthy closer can’t get anybody out — Dodgers’ Brandon League has given up 6 earned runs in 7.1 innings of relief. Batters are hitting .286 against him with just one more spring game left to play — Saturday night back in Anaheim against the Angels.
No, these tune-up games don’t really have an effect on the start the regular season.
Just ask the 2012 Halos, who had the second-highest number of wins (19) in the Cactus League last season, then started off the regular season at 6-15 from which they were never able to recover.
“When you come into spring training, your only real goal is to come out of it healthy,” said Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia. “Last year was a perfect example. We looked great all spring, then once the regular games began, we couldn’t get it done in the first five weeks.
“Even though we played some great baseball for the rest of the season, we were never able to climb out of that hole.”
Albert Pujols had a torrid spring in 2012 after signing as a free agent — he hit seven homers in Arizona. But it was 27 games into his first season with the Angels until he hit his first home run, ending up with a career-low 30 on the year. Coming off knee surgery, his thought process is 180 degrees different that it was a year ago.
“It was natural to want to come out right from the beginning of spring training and do well for my new team,” Pujols said earlier this month in Arizona. “But with the knee this year, there was no need to rush it. So I worked hard on my therapy and didn’t get (caught up) in being ready to play in spring training games. I want to be ready for the regular season and help us get off to a fast start so we don’t have to spend the rest of the season trying to catch up to anybody else.”
Scioscia said that was the plan for everyone on the roster — healthy, hurt or recovering from an injury.
“(The coaching staff) wanted to make sure everybody was getting what they needed in order to be ready for the season,” Scioscia said, “and not worry about performance in the spring. I think we did a great job of that, and even though our record isn’t good by any means, we feel like the team is ready to go on Opening Day in Cincinnati.”