Careers linked for Angels' Williams, Giants' Cain

Careers linked for Angels' Williams, Giants' Cain

Published Jun. 18, 2012 12:12 p.m. ET

Three months after Jerome Williams was traded by the San Francisco Giants to the Chicago Cubs in 2005, Matt Cain was summoned to the Giants' starting rotation.

Cain that season got his first major-league hit off Williams, and beat him in a pitching duel.

Monday night, the pitchers will oppose each other for the first time since when the Giants visit Angel Stadium. It also will be for the first time the two teams meet since the 2002 World Series.

"This is about redemption," said the Angels' Williams (6-4, with a 4.20 earned-run average), who is 5-1 at Angel Stadium.

Cain (8-2, 2.18 ERA) is coming off a perfect game Wednesday against the Houston Astros.

"I tweeted him congratulations," Williams said.

Williams, 30, said he thinks Cain's development was something of a contributing factor in the Giants' dealing a player who was formerly one of their top pitching prospects.

By 2007, Williams was out of the majors and forced to work his way back.

"It'll be fun to go against him again," Williams said, "and the Giants too."

Bad habits

An 18-6 stretch has distanced the Angels from the shame of their slow April start, but some bad habits remain.

They have scored just 11 runs in their last six games, and were spared defeat four times by their American League-leading pitching staff. They had been in a four-for-43 skid with runners in scoring position until Mike Trout's seventh-inning, run-scoring double Sunday.

"We haven't attacked the ball like we can with runners in scoring position all year," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "For some guys, less is more, and some need to get more aggressive. It's a comfort level, a confidence, and we need to get it where it can be. But we're still searching."

Batting coach Jim Eppard said he tries to create batting-practice situations that force hitters to deal with stressful circumstances.

"That's the only thing that comes close to simulating that pressure," Eppard said. "I get on them in a good, fun manner, stuff like you used to do in the backyard, like, 'This is the seventh game of the World Series.' "

Roster move

The Angels optioned catcher Hank Conger to Triple-A Salt Lake after Sunday's game and are expected to bring back catcher Bobby Wilson following a two-game rehabilitation stint with the Bees.

Wilson has been on the disabled list since June 5 after being hit in the catcher's mask by a foul ball.

Short hops

Reliever Scott Downs threw off a mound Sunday, and Scioscia said the left-hander should be available to pitch after experiencing rib soreness following his reaction to a line drive hit toward his head. Downs had an ice pack strapped to his ribs Sunday morning, and when asked whether he was still feeling some pain, his eyes shifted, and he said, "I mean, no." … Catcher Chris Iannetta, on the disabled list since May 10 with a fractured right wrist, passed an examination Saturday and could resume throwing early this week, perhaps starting a rehabilitation assignment in the minor leagues by the weekend, Scioscia said.

--Lance Pugmire