The Angels begin their 2013 home schedule against the defending AL West champion A's as Josh Hamilton makes his regular-season home debut on Tuesday.
Oakland split a four-game series with the Mariners, swept a three-game series with the Astros, and now it's time to face the big bats of the rival Angels.
Off to a 5-2 start and sitting atop the American League West standings, Oakland gets to test itself against the new-look Angels, a popular offseason pick to win the division crown following the addition of Hamilton, as the two clubs begin a three-game series.
"I don't think we really care, to tell you the truth," A's manager Bob Melvin said about the idea that the Angels are the favorites. "We just try to do what we do and prepare for each and every game and expect to win that game. We don't get much further than that. We feel like we're a good team, and who anyone else picks, we really don't pay too much attention to that."
Hamilton entered Sunday's finale against the Rangers with just one hit in 20 at-bats -- 10 of which ended with a strikeout -- but he tallied three hits against his former team, making an already scary lineup that much more frightening.
"They're deep, there's no doubt," Melvin said. "It's not just on the offensive end.
"They've really revamped their whole pitching staff. They've got three new guys in the rotation, several new guys in the bullpen. They just look better across the board as a team, and then to add a guy like Hamilton certainly gives the lineup some more depth, too. You know you have to play your best baseball to beat them. It will be a tough series for us."
Tuesday's A's starter, Jarrod Parker, was successful in limiting the Angels in four starts last season, allowing just eight runs in 27 2/3 innings (2.60 ERA). He didn't allow a home run in those four starts.
Parker took the loss in his first start of the season, allowing four runs in five innings against the Mariners. He'll be working on six days' rest as the A's try to keep their young starters healthy for a full season.
"You try to prepare yourself for the end of the season and make sure everyone gets to the finish line," Melvin said. "In the case of a guy like Jarrod Parker, you see the innings jumped [from 136 1/3 innings in 2011 to 202 innings in '12].
"With the majority of our guys being younger guys, I think we're best suited to give them an off-day every time around when we can."
Left-hander C.J. Wilson will get the nod for the Angels. To open his fourth season as a starter, the 32-year-old tossed six innings against the Reds last week, allowing three earned runs on five hits and four walks while striking out four.
"It's always fun to start an opener," Wilson said. "Last year I felt like I didn't get to pitch at Angel Stadium until May. Most of my early starts were on the road. The home opener is going to be exciting -- the home environment, having our fans cheering for us after starting in Cincinnati and Texas. I love playing in Anaheim. It's always cool."
Wilson has pitched at least 200 innings the past three years, though he regressed a bit from '11 to '12, when his strikeout rate decreased from 7.7 per nine innings to 6.0, while his walk rate and home run rate both increased.
Wilson is 7-7 with a 3.57 ERA in 106 innings against the A's.
A's: Cespedes' off-day doesn't go as planned
With a scheduled off-day on Sunday designed to rest outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who began the year 3-for-22 with nine strikeouts, an injury to Josh Reddick interrupted.
Reddick left Sunday's 9-3 win over the Astros in the bottom of the fifth inning after colliding with the wall while chasing a foul ball. Reddick's right arm took the impact during the fall.
Reddick said he lost feeling in the arm, but felt relieved to find out there were no broken bones and he likely will avoid the disabled list with a right wrist sprain. He's not expected to play on Tuesday.
Cespedes went 0-for-2 as a replacement. Melvin said the outfielder may be pulling off the ball too much and he was hoping the off-day would help.
Angels: Closer Madson not quite there
Ryan Madson, signed to a one-year contract in the offseason, is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery. It's been about a year since the surgery, but Madson said he's not quite pain-free and not at 100 percent, but he's making progress.
"I'm not game speed yet, but I'm inching closer," he said. "I'm throwing every third day now."
For now, Ernesto Frieri has handled the closing duties. Frieri is 1-for-1 in save opportunities this season after going 23-for-26 last year.
• The Angels' home opener against the A's on Tuesday night will mark the first time they've opened at Angel Stadium against Oakland since 2009 and eighth all-time against the A's, who hold a 5-2 advantage. The Angels took eight of 10 at home from Oakland last season but lost the season series 10-9. The A's took the last three series against the Angels in 2012.
• Albert Pujols looked good in his first start of the season at designated hitter on Saturday, going 2-for-2 with two home runs and three walks, and he went 1-for-3 and drew two more walks in the DH slot on Sunday.
• A's outfielder Coco Crisp is off to a booming start with the bat this season. He homered and doubled on Sunday and now has five doubles and three home runs in seven games. He hit 11 home runs in 120 games in '12. He has yet to steal a base.
• A's shortstop Jed Lowrie hit his third home run of the season and second against the Astros, his former team, on Sunday. Lowrie, who has battled various injuries over the past few years, is batting .500 (13-for-26).