ANAHEIM -- Angels owner Arte Moreno publicly defended Mike Scioscia on Wednesday, telling FOXSports.com from the Owners Meetings in New York that there is "zero" chance he'll dismiss his 14-year manager amid a 15-24 start to a much-hyped season.
"Arte has always been very supportive," Scioscia said when asked for his reaction prior to Wednesday's game. "Arte knows how hard I take the non-performance of this team and how we need to get there. It hits me as hard as it hits Arte and it hits Jerry [Dipoto, the general manager,] and I know Arte realizes that. We're going to take this challenge and hopefully start moving forward and getting the wins that we need to get ourselves in the position we want to. That's the bottom line is winning, and we're going to work towards that."
The Angels once again came into the season with grand expectations after the offseason signing of Josh Hamilton, which came almost a year to the day since the club added Albert Pujols. But they got off to a slow start in 2013, after starting 6-14 in 2012, and now sit 10 1/2 games back of the first-place Rangers in the American League West while sporting the fourth-worst run-differential in baseball.
But Moreno, who also dismissed speculation regarding Dipoto's job status, said he has "no questions about Mike." Scioscia came on board in 2000, three years before Moreno purchased the Angels from the Walt Disney Company, but it was Moreno who signed Scioscia to the 10-year extension that runs through 2018.
"Mike has zero problems, OK?" Moreno told FOXSports.com. "This is his 14th year. Mike goes beyond what he does on the field. He's a good person. He's a good person in the community, a very good baseball guy. You don't have to ask me. You just ask other managers, other baseball people.
"I try not to live with that victim mentality that I want to blame everyone. If you're going to blame anyone, you've got to blame me. I'm the one at the end of the day that has the final call."
Scioscia has been on the proverbial "hot seat" before, going way back to the slow start of 2002 (when he eventually brought the franchise its first and only World Series title). Now, Scioscia's team is in danger of missing the playoffs for a fourth straight season despite sporting the sixth-highest payroll in baseball.
If nothing else, Moreno's comments could help quell outside speculation.
"The outside speculation is neither here nor there; the chatter is neither here nor there," Scioscia disputed. "Going on 14 years, this isn't the first time you deal with this kind of chatter. It happens; it's happened before. It certainly doesn't affect what we need to do on a day-to-day basis with our team, and that's what we're going to focus on."
Madson to make additional rehab stop at Triple-A
ANAHEIM -- Ryan Madson was hopeful of being activated by the end of this week, but the Angels have called an audible. Instead of bringing him back after two rehab outings in the California League, they'll send him out on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Salt Lake -- probably before the end of the week -- so he can get more outings under his belt and iron out his mechanics after his yearlong recovery from Tommy John surgery.
"Last couple times he's been on the mound, on any given day that he's pitched in his rehab, he's had enough stuff to pitch in the Major Leagues," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Now he just needs to work on fine-tuning some things, the command, having some guys on base -- just finish off a couple things that he's going to face in a Major League game and seeing how he bounces back."
Madson got really aggressive in his rehab recently, throwing off a mound with high intensity every other day leading up to his first rehab appearance for Class A Inland Empire on Monday, when he pitched a clean ninth inning and recorded a strikeout. The 32-year-old planned on making one more appearance there, either Wednesday or Thursday, before being activated.
But the Angels decided to play it safe, even though Madson's arm only feels "normal soreness" at this point.
"I respect that," Madson said. "They want to make sure the experience here is not too much on my arm too early. It shows they care. They don't want me going out too early and getting hurt. I totally get it. I respect the decision."
With the Salt Lake Bees, Madson will pitch in what he described as "normal-use situations" rather than every other day. Neither he nor the Angels feels he needs to pitch in back-to-back games before being deemed ready.
As for how long he'll pitch in Triple-A, Madson mentioned "a couple weeks," but Scioscia -- who reiterated that Madson is "very close" -- was hesitant to put a timeline on it.
"If everything goes the way we anticipate," Scioscia said, "not very long at all."
Pujols not blaming balky knee, foot for dip in power
ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols' surgically repaired right knee was feeling just fine until he played first base for 19 innings on April 29 in Oakland. Ever since, a sore right knee has joined the plantar fasciitis in his left foot as ailments that have weakened the No. 3 hitter's lower half and sapped some of his trademark power.
"Those are things you can't control," said Pujols, who started Wednesday's game at designated hitter. "There are days [the knee] bothers me, there are days it doesn't bother me. Same as the foot. Some days you'll see me running fine, and then other days I don't feel good enough to run. Now, thankfully, I'm feeling better with both, with the knee and the foot. I'm running a little bit better, I'm feeling more comfortable at the plate."
Pujols snapped a nine-game homerless drought on Tuesday, belting his sixth of the year and the 481st of his career. But he entered the series finale against the Royals sporting a .242/.320/.416 slash line, while continuing to split his days at DH and first base.
With his legs not 100 percent, it's been difficult for Pujols to drive the ball.
"It's been really hard, man, but I don't want to make excuses," said Pujols, who has started 19 of his 39 games at DH. "I'm not a guy who makes excuses. I'm not going to say it's why I'm batting .240. It's bothering me, sure, but .240 -- I'm not going to use that as an excuse. I don't want people to look at me and say, 'Oh, it's because he's injured.' I'm not that kind of person. Sure, if I were 100 percent, [the numbers] would be better. I'm not there 100 percent, but I'm giving my team all I can in the meantime."
Angels to honor military with Armed Forces Day
ANAHEIM -- The Angels, in partnership with State Farm, will pay tribute to the U.S. military by hosting Armed Forces Day during Saturday's 1:05 p.m. PT game against the White Sox at Angel Stadium, which will see both teams sporting new camouflage caps.
The pregame ceremony, slated for 12:30 p.m., will include a World War II aircraft flyover, a joint forces color guard, an on-field military presentation and a first pitch and national anthem performed by veterans. During the ceremony, renowned astronaut Buzz Aldrin will raise an American flag that was previously flown at a North Kabul NATO base in Afghanistan.
A half-hour after the game, a three-inning Purple Heart Baseball game will ensue, pinning wounded warrior teams from Fort Sam Houston (San Antonio) and Camp Pendleton (Oceanside, Calif.) against each other.
Angels Baseball has partnered with season-seat holders and State Farm to donate tickets to local military branches. On game day, veterans and active-duty military can purchase tickets at the stadium box office for 50 percent off selected seating with a military ID or VA card.
• Right-hander Jered Weaver (broken left elbow) came out of his bullpen session Tuesday feeling fine and is still scheduled to throw an 80-pitch, up-and-down 'pen on Friday, which could be his final step before a rehab assignment.
• Left-hander Sean Burnett (left forearm irritation) is expected to throw his first bullpen session since landing on the disabled list Thursday.
• Outfielder Peter Bourjos (left hamstring strain) has been riding the elliptical, playing catch, doing lunges and taking part in aquatic exercises. But there's still no date for when he can run on the field, hit or shag fly balls.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.