Kazmir sharp in spring finale, Angels win 5-1

Torii Hunter 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

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 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 and added a two-run homer against lefty Scott Elbert. Last

season, the four-time All-Star batted .281 with 23 homers and 90


”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 pitched 4 1-3 innings and allowed three hits

including a leadoff homer by Rod Barajas. 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


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


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 and Juan Rivera.

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.