Trade stirs excitement — and a little sadness — for Angels

on Sep2

Most of the Angels convened at Angel Stadium after noon Thursday to board a 1 p.m. bus headed for the Long Beach Airport. By then, the news had splashed across their televisions and onto their phones: Their team arranged an unexpected trade for Justin Upton, the Detroit Tigers’ power-hitting outfielder.

Excitement abounded, members of the traveling party to Texas reported. Many Angels also felt conflicted, because minutes after they heard the news of Upton’s arrival, they discovered that clubhouse favorite Cameron Maybin was departing. The Angels ceded their energetic left fielder to Houston, who claimed him off waivers.

Hours later, players learned the team would also be adding veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips.

“It was a day of mixed emotions,” reliever Jesse Chavez said. “Obviously, there was a plus side that outweighed the mix. Cam and I became real close talking off the field. For me, in my eyes, that was a little bit of a dagger. But then again, you look at who you got. So you weigh both pros and cons, and the pros outweigh the cons, at this moment.”

Mike Trout was not on the team plane. He flew ahead to Texas and learned of the Upton acquisition through the in-air Wi-Fi.

“I loved it,” Trout said. “Obviously when you bring in two guys like that, having great years, have been in the league for a while, veteran guys, it definitely helps you, for sure.

“We’re in the thick of things. We’re right where we want to be. These additions definitely will help us.”

Right-hander Garrett Richards asked what there was to not be excited about.

“Maybin was a great guy,” he said. “We all love him in here. He’s a great teammate. He’s a big reason why we’re in the position we’re in. It’s sad to see him leave, but I’m glad that he got to play with us.”

Trout deflected a question about whether he expected the moves after general manager Billy Eppler declined to add talent at the July 31 deadline. Chavez said he interpreted the previous inaction as a front-office gesture to the players, who responded with an 18-10 August record.

“They just put the ball in our court, for this last month, the month of August, to see what we were going to do,” Chavez said. “Were we going to take it and run with it? Or were we just going to go about our business and see what happens?”

As an Angel, Upton is wearing No. 9, his childhood number but one he has never before worn in the major leagues. Phillips is wearing his standard No. 4, after first-base coach Alfredo Griffin agreed to move down to No. 3.

Upton and Maybin have been friends for more than a decade, as members of the same 2005 draft class from neighboring states and teammates in Detroit last year. Upton said Maybin called him a few hours after Thursday’s transactions.

Richards to throw bullpen

Joining the the big league team after one triple-A start on rehab assignment, Richards will throw a bullpen session Saturday in Texas to test his readiness for a possible start Monday in Oakland.

“I feel as normal as I ever have,” he said Friday. “There’s no concern on my end. Obviously, they’re gonna make a plan and kind of stick to it, and I’m just kind of at the mercy of that.”

If he starts in Oakland, his return will come on the same field where he first experienced the nerve irritation that forced him to miss five months.

“It would only be proper, right?” Richards asked, grinning. “I’m down. I just want to play. I’m ready to pitch. Whenever they want me to go, I’ll be ready to go.”

Short hops

As promised, Trout gifted first baseman C.J. Cron a pair of Phoenix Suns season tickets, a few rows up from the floor at center court. Trout offered Cron the tickets if he homered twice Tuesday. …With rosters expanding Friday to allow up to 40 players per team, the Angels called up right-hander Noe Ramirez, left-hander Jason Gurka, catcher Carlos Perez and infielder Nolan Fontana. They will add others, including infielder Jefry Marte and right-hander Eduardo Paredes, in the coming days. To create space for Gurka on their 40-man roster, the Angels moved JC Ramirez to the 60-day disabled list, formally ending his regular season. …Right-hander Bud Norris (right-knee soreness) played catch. He is eligible to be activated from the disabled list Wednesday in Oakland and expects to be fit to pitch then.

Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura

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