ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Albert Pujols welcomed his new hitting coach to town with a go-ahead three-run homer and Vernon Wells added a two-run shot to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 7-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.Jim Eppard was with the Angels for the first time as hitting coach after replacing Mickey Hatcher, who was unceremoniously dumped Tuesday night by new general manager Jerry DiPoto 1 12 months into Hatcher's 13th season on the job. The team's offensive struggles led to the firing, including Pujols' slow start after signing a 10-year, 240 million contract as a free agent.It was an easy transition for Eppard, who is in his 10th season in the organization and nurtured current Angels players Howie Kendrick, Kendrys Morales, Mark Trumbo, Erick Aybar, Peter Bourjos and Bobby Wilson as the hitting coach at Triple-A Salt Lake.Jerome Williams (4-1) won his fourth straight decision, allowing two runs and 10 hits over eight innings with five strikeouts and no walks. Last Friday at Texas, the right-hander relieved C.J. Wilson the night before his scheduled start because of a 56-minute rain delay - then gave up six runs and 11 hits in 6 2-3 innings without getting a decision because the Angels were already trailing in the first inning when he came in.Gavin Floyd (3-4) surrendered seven runs and 10 hits in six innings, including both home runs. The right-hander had allowed just one homer in 40 2-3 innings over his previous six starts after giving up three in his season debut at Texas.Trailing 2-1, the Angels grabbed a 4-2 lead with one swing by Pujols, who drove an 0-1 pitch over the center field fence after Mike Trout and Albert Callaspo opened the inning with singles.It was the 447th career homer and second this season for Pujols, the three-time NL MVP who ended the longest regular-season drought of his career after 33 games and 139 at-bats in the finale of the Angels' previous homestand. The Halos increased the margin to 7-2 in the sixth with Kendrick's sacrifice fly and Wells' sixth homer.The No.8 hitters for the Angels and White Sox each drove in their team's first run. Aybar opened the scoring in the second with an RBI double after a two-out walk to Wells, and Dayan Viciedo tied it in the third for the White Sox with a home run into the rock pile in left-center. Alejandro De Aza singled two batters after Viciedo's fifth homer and scored on Gordon Beckham's double.Notes: The White Sox were in mourning over the death of longtime pregame instructor Kevin Hickey, who died Wednesday at age 56 in Chicago after a lengthy illness. Hickey, who spent six seasons in the majors as a reliever for the Chisox and Baltimore Orioles, had been hospitalized since the day before the season opener in Arlington, Texas. "No one wanted to win more, no one was more optimistic, no one cared more and no one took more pride in his job," 1B Paul Konerko said. "Ask anyone in our clubhouse, every person who appreciated what Kevin did to help the White Sox win baseball games." ... With Hatcher's departure, the only coach left from manager Mike Scioscia's original staff in 2000 is 1B coach Alfredo Griffin. Joe Maddon, Bud Black and Ron Roenicke all left to become managers. ... During Hatcher's watch, the Angels set franchise records in 2009 for average, hits, home runs, runs scored, RBIs and average with runners in scoring position - and won a World Series title in 2002. ... All of Floyd's last six starts against AL West teams have been on the road (1-5, 4.35 ERA). ... One of the many Angels employees handing out Bourjos bobbleheads to the fans as they entered the ballpark was Bourjos himself - in full uniform. ... It was a rough night on the basepaths for Trout, who was picked off first by RHP Jesse Crain in the seventh and was thrown out by LF Viciedo when he tried to stretch a single into a double in the fifth.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As he surveyed the landscape this offseason, Peter Bourjos thought he and the White Sox would make for a good fit.
Adam Eaton had been traded and Austin Jackson departed via free agency, leaving the White Sox with Melky Cabrera and several young players to man a thin outfield. Bourjos, who lived in Chicago until second grade, pursued the White Sox and last month agreed to terms on a minor-league deal in hopes of earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Last season, Bourjos, who was born in Chicago, hit .251/.292/.389 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 383 plate appearances for the Philadelphia Phillies.
“I always liked playing in Chicago,” Bourjos said. “It was a good fit and then spring training is here. I have two young kids. So packing them up and going to Florida wasn’t something I wanted to do either.
“We definitely look at all those options on paper. Evaluate what might be the best chance of making a team and this is definitely one of them. It seems like a good fit on paper.”
If he’s healthy enough, Charlie Tilson will get the first crack at the everyday job in center field. Tilson, who missed the final two months of last season with a torn hamstring, is currently sidelined for 10 days with foot problems. Beyond Tilson, the White Sox have prospects Adam Engel and Jacob May with Cabrera slated to start in left field and Avisail Garcia pegged for right. Leury Garcia is also in the mix.
But there still appears to be a good shot for Bourjos to make the club and manager Rick Renteria likes his veteran presence for the young group. Bourjos has accrued six seasons of service time between the Phillies, Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals.
“Bourjy has been around,” Renteria said. “He knows what it takes. He understands the little nuances of major-league camp and how we have so many players and we want to give them all a look. We want to see Bourjos, we want to see him out there.”
Bourjos, who turns 30 in March, has an idea what he wants to do with his chance. A slick defensive outfielder, Bourjos wants to prove he’s a better hitter than his .243/.300/.382 slash line would suggest. He said it’s all about being relaxed.
“Offensively just slow everything down and not try to do too much,” Bourjos said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself and it hasn’t translated. I think last year I got in a spot where I just tried to relax in the batter’s box and let everything go and what happened happened. I had success with that.
“I now realize what that feels like and it doesn’t work. Just take a deep breath and be relaxed in the box and good things are going to happen.”
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Giovanni Soto pitched to Geovany Soto at White Sox camp on Monday morning, and the Internet loved it.
The veteran catcher and rookie pitcher, who share similar names and have been friends for two years, worked together during live batting practice. The unrelated pair, who both hail from Puerto Rico, said they’ve been confused for each other several times since reporting to camp last week. Each has also heard the other’s name being called out and thought it was for them, which has led to more confusion. But those mix-ups haven’t limited their enjoyment of the situation, either.
“It’s kind of surreal that he has the same name, last name,” Geovany Soto said. “It’s kind of weird calling him Gio and he’s calling me Geo. It’s kind of weird.
“With the physicals, doctors, the people for the drug testing, we’ve been confused in all three of those. I’m expecting that to happen. Hopefully I can get a big check on his name and cash it.”
The social media world isn’t alone in its enjoyment of the topic as both players smiled while discussing it on Monday.
Giovanni Soto said the players met two seasons ago when he pitched for the Cleveland Indians and the catcher was in his first stint with the White Sox. They grew up about 20 minutes apart from each other in Puerto Rico and now spend time together in the offseason. But what has made the scenario even more confusing is that White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito is seated only a few stalls away from Giovanni Soto in the clubhouse.
“It’s kind of weird, especially in the clubhouse and on the field because when someone says Geo, we turn around to see if it’s for him or for me,” Giovanni Soto said. “And we also have Giolito, and people call him Gio. It’s weird, but it’s funny too.”
Both Sotos could make the team’s Opening Day roster.
Geovany Soto, who signed a minor league contract in January, is the most experienced catcher in camp and is favored to win a job. Giovanni Soto, who was claimed off waivers from the Cubs in November, is one of several relievers competing for a spot and could make the club if the White Sox decide to carry two left-handers in the bullpen. And while Giolito is expected to start the season at Triple-A, he could reach the majors at some point causing more pandemonium.
“There’s a lot of Geo going on with Giolito, Giovanni and then me,” Geovany Soto said. “And can get pretty hectic. But yeah, it’s fun for us.”