BILL DWYRE

Angels lose their groove right from the get-go; can they get it back?

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He said one of the ways the Angels have attempted to address the failures of recent years, especially the slow starts, is to get more aggressive sooner. Spring training was not allowed to be a casual ease-in to the regular season.

"I didn't just like that we won a lot of games this spring," he said, "but I liked the way we won them."

He said pitching coach Mike Butcher was especially instrumental in pushing this agenda. "If we get off to the start we anticipate," Scioscia said, "Mike will deserve a lot of the credit."

Scioscia characterized much of last season's pitching problems — bullpen collapses, starters not going deep enough into the game —as shortcomings hard to conceal. "If you peeled the paint back," he said, "you could see the warts."

He said the perception he and General Manager Jerry Dipoto don't get along is wrong. "We've evolved into a good team," Scioscia said.

And he admitted some of the off-season moves, such as the acquisition of veteran third baseman David Freese and pitchers Tyler Skaggs and Fernando Salas, were tough because they came at a high price, the loss of young stars Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo.

"I winced," Scioscia said. "But I understood."

Sadly for the Angels, on this first of 162, the warts were still there. Pitching warts. Bullpen warts.

Weaver left after 61/3 with the scored tied, 3-3. Salas came in and gave up the hit that allowed the Mariners to take a 4-3 lead. Kevin Jepsen yielded a three-run homer in the ninth to Justin Smoak that made it 7-3 and Nick Maronde gave up a three-run triple to Dustin Ackley.

It was 10-3 and the Angels' bullpen wasn't putting out fire, but throwing kerosene on it again.

Poor Don Baylor was in pain. So were Angels fans.

It's a new season. Or is it?

bill.dwyre@latimes.com

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