Pujols on leak of reported rift between Scioscia, Dipoto: ‘We’re supposed to be family’

 

A rift between the Angels’ front office and manager Mike Scioscia and his coaches could be rearing its ugly head again, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

And players — specifically Albert Pujols — could be caught in the middle.

This was a story a few years back, and Dipoto and Scioscia ironed out their differences enough to have a professional relationship.

All was going well last year, as the Angels had the best offense in baseball and won 98 games. But then the team was swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Royals.

The Angels — who traded away Howie Kendrick in the offseason and then Josh Hamilton — are not the same team they were one year ago, but they are still angling for a playoff spot, 4 1/2 games behind Houston in the AL West.

The report cited a divide over the way players are given statistical information, and it cites a team meeting in which Albert Pujols allegedly exchanged words with general manager Jerry Dipoto, defending how the coaches prepare players with statistics. 

"You’ve got 25 grown men. You’ve got the front office. You’ve got coaches. Whoever got that leaked, that’s really embarrassing," Pujols said. "We’re supposed to be family here."

There is no issue with the way information is distributed, according to Scioscia. Information used to be sent from the front office to coaches, and now it’s sent to players directly as well.

The meetings, which occurred on the weekend, had Dipoto criticizing coaches for not distributing some statistical information from the front office to players, the report said, and that’s when Pujols defended coaches and their work by saying the team wasn’t as good as last year. Pujols denied he said that.

"I don’t need to talk about that. Who said I said that?" Pujols asked. "I didn’t say that, I can tell you that. I’ve freaking been in this league in 16 years. I would never disrespect the team. If somebody wrote that, that’s pretty wrong. Whoever. I haven’t read that story and I would never waste my time on that …"

"Our system which Jerry set up has (it) bringing the information bringing it to coaches and digesting the information and getting the gameplan and giving it to players," Scioscia said. "It’s going to be the same, with the exception that the information is going also to the players so they’ll have a head start on it.

It’s really a slight change in getting players prepped for a situation."

The early rift between Dipoto and Scioscia centered over Mickey Hatcher, the longtime Angels’ hitting coach under Scioscia and friend and former teammate, being fired by Dipoto. They moved past that. 

Asked if they have a good relationship, Scioscia said: "I think we’re a good team," Scioscia said. "The one real issue early was when they let Mickey go. We’ve moved past that. We’ve moved way past it."

Scioscia has said his relationship with Dipoto "has grown from where it was four years ago."

The recent tension could figure into Scioscia’s decision to opt out of his contract at the end of the season he so chooses. Scioscia has a deal through 2018 and is owed $18 million over the next three years.

Earlier this month, the Angels picked up the option on Dipoto’s contract for 2016.

Owner Arte Moreno made Scioscia and Dipoto work out their differences once. Could they do it again? Scioscia is baseball’s longest-tenured manager at 16 years, but he hasn’t said whether he’ll opt out at the end of the year or not.

In the meantime, statistical analysis – and the way players receive it – is at the forefront of perhaps another power struggle for the Angels. 

"I do my job no matter what," Pujols said. "I’m pretty sure Trouty, just like everybody, does. We have our hitters meeting where we get our information. At the same time, I do my own scouting myself. I get here at 1 o’clock and study the pitchers and the guys for 45 minutes and that way I don’t have to point a finger to somebody and say that’s your fault you gave me the wrong information. I can see it myself. I’m pretty sure I can speak for a lot of the guys here. We all do the same thing. We’ve got our IPad. We gather our own information too, on top of what we get here."

Pujols might not be pointing fingers, but there might be a blame game brewing for the Angels.