TEMPE, Ariz. -- In preparation for the first interleague opening day in baseball history, Angels pitchers have been taking batting practice this week.
So, Jered Weaver, how's it going?
"It's good," he said, "when I make contact."
Batting practice for pitchers is new this year at Angels spring training. In previous years, interleague games were grouped in the middle of the season, usually over one weekend in May and a few weeks in June, so there was no need for American League pitchers to worry about grabbing bats in the spring.
This year, though, with the Houston Astros moving to the American League, there are 15 teams in each league, and an interleague game every day. The Angels, who open at Cincinnati, just happen to be the team to start with an interleague game, which means their pitchers have a little extra work to do in spring training.
"You've got to do what you've got to do," said Weaver, the Angels' opening day starter. "You don't really have a choice. We've got to prepare and that's what we're doing."
Last week the Angels started having their pitchers do some bunting, and this week they've begun taking regular batting practice. Weaver said Manager Mike Scioscia mentioned that they might do some baserunning before camp is over.
The Angels play 10 games in National League parks this season, three in Cincinnati in April, two at Dodger Stadium in May, two at Chicago's Wrigley Field in July, and three in Milwaukee over Labor Day weekend.
The complication of that is that pitchers are going to be starting and stopping their hitting work all year, rather than bunching the games together. The starting pitchers will have their at-bats weeks or months apart.
"It's weird because it's broken up," said C.J. Wilson, scheduled to start the second game in Cincinnati. "It allows you to get into more of a rhythm (when the games are together). Hitters have spring training to get used to guys throwing 93-94, and we don't."
So far the Angels have opted to use the designated hitter in their Cactus League games in National League parks, but presumably they'll be letting their pitchers take some hacks in the last couple weeks.
The Angels have four remaining games in NL parks, and Jason Vargas -- who isn't scheduled to start in Cincinnati -- is in line to pitch in two of those. Weaver is in line to pitch March 26 against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Scottsdale, so that could be his tuneup for facing Johnny Cueto on April 1 at Cincinnati.
Weaver said the pitchers have fun with batting practice, but not too much fun.
"You have to take it seriously," he said. "You don't know when your spot is going to come up in the lineup. You have to help the team. You have to work at it and take it seriously. What we do in a National League park could really help us win."
(c)2013 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at www.ocregister.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services