For Mathis, it adds up to a for­get­table sea­son

Los Angeles Times - - Baseball - Mike DiGio­vanna

He was a play­off hero in 2009, bat­ting .534 (eight for 15) with five dou­bles, one of them a game-win­ner, in seven post­sea­son games, but 2010 has amounted to a six­month-long 0 for 3 for catcher Jeff


“The name of the game is stay­ing healthy, be­ing on the field and pro­duc­ing,” Mathis said. “Those are three things I didn’t do this year.”

Those com­ments came be­fore Wed­nes­day night’s 2-1, 12-in­ning loss to the Texas Rangers, which pushed the An­gels to the brink of elim­i­na­tion in the Amer­i­can League West.

Mathis felt even worse af­ter the usu­ally re­li­able de­fender al­lowed the Rangers to score the win­ning run on a passed ball, a Matt Palmer fast­ball that nicked off the catcher’s glove, open­ing the door for Jeff Fran­coeur to race home. There was no cross-up. “I just missed it,” Mathis said. “His fast­ball has a nat­u­ral cut. I mis­judged where it was go­ing, and it didn’t hit the pocket.”

It has been that kind of sea­son — more miss than hit — for Mathis, who hoped to build on his play­off per­for­mance but has re­gressed from 2009, when he hit .211with five home runs and 28 runs bat­ted in.

Mathis, who sat out two months from mid-April to midJune be­cause of a bro­ken bone in his right wrist, en­ters a se­ries against the Chicago White Sox with a .189 av­er­age, three homers, 18 RBIs, 58 strike­outs and six walks in 196 at-bats.

Though he has flashed his agility field­ing bunts, he has thrown out only seven of 48 base-steal­ers, a suc­cess rate of 14.6%.

“Any time you miss two months, it’s go­ing to get you out of your rhythm, but it’s how you han­dle it,” Mathis said. “I didn’t come out of it as quickly as I needed to.

“The in­jury was nag­ging. It didn’t bother me as much throw­ing as hit­ting, but I didn’t throw out the num­ber of guys I should have. I want to im­prove that. And I have to get back to a con­sis­tent stroke and cut down my strike­outs, for sure.”

With Kendry Morales (bro­ken left lower leg) ex­pected back next sea­son, fill-in first base­man Mike

Napoli, bar­ring a trade, mov­ing back to catcher, and young catcher

Hank Conger show­ing prom­ise, Mathis is no lock to re­turn to his catch­ing time-share in 2011.

“That’s al­ways the case here,” Mathis said of the com­pe­ti­tion. “But that doesn’t change the way I go about the off-sea­son. I’ll pre­pare my­self the same way, come in and try to win the job.”

Fans are in­vited to at­tend the team’s 50th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion kick­off Fri­day from 5 to 7 p.m. at An­gel Sta­dium’s home plate gate. Cur­rent and for­mer play­ers will dis­cuss their place in club his­tory with the team’s broad­cast­ers, and fans will have the op­por­tu­nity to win prizes. … The An­gels passed 3 mil­lion in at­ten­dance Wed­nes­day, the eighth straight sea­son in which they have drawn at least 3 mil­lion fans. Only the New York Yan­kees and Dodgers have matched that streak.




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