TEMPE, Ariz. -- With less than two weeks to go until Opening Day, the Angels will soon be faced with tough roster decisions regarding players who are out of options.Cam Bedrosian, Richard Parker, Jose Alvarez and JC Ramirez are among the Angels who are on the 40-man roster and are
TEMPE, Ariz. -- With less than two weeks to go until Opening Day, the Angels will soon be faced with tough roster decisions regarding players who are out of options.
Cam Bedrosian, Richard Parker, Jose Alvarez and JC Ramirez are among the Angels who are on the 40-man roster and are out of options, but they are projected to earn spots on the Angels' pitching staff. Others are still fighting for the few jobs that remain up for grabs, including Noe Ramirez, Jefry Marte and Carlos Perez.
Noe Ramirez is in the mix for the final bullpen spot and has enjoyed a strong spring so far, logging a 2.45 ERA with nine strikeouts and two walks over 7 1/3 innings. The 28-year-old right-hander also impressed after being claimed off waivers from the Red Sox last summer, with a 2.16 ERA over 8 1/3 innings with the Angels in September. Rule 5 Draft pick Luke Bard, Felix Pena and Ian Krol are also candidates for the final relief job.
Marte is competing for a bench job, but the Angels seem more likely to fill out their three-man bench with an infielder who can handle second base, such as Kaleb Cowart, Jose Fernandez or Nolan Fontana. Marte, who plays first and third base, has been slowed by a groin injury this spring but has batted .529 (9-for-17) in nine Cactus League games.
Perez's odds of making the team currently appear slim, as Martin Maldonado and Rene Rivera are currently ahead of him on the depth chart at catcher.
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Alex Meyer is also out of options, but he will open the season on the 60-day disabled list, as he is expected to miss most of the 2018 campaign while recovering from shoulder surgery.
The Angels optioned Jabari Blash to Triple-A Salt Lake and reassigned Jose Briceno, Francisco Arcia and Colin Walsh to Minor League camp after Friday's 18-6 loss to the Rockies.
Valbuena gains American citizenship
Luis Valbuena was back in the Angels clubhouse on Friday morning after passing his U.S. citizenship test in Orlando on Thursday.
"I've been playing here in the United States for a lot of years," said Valbuena, who was born in Venezuela. "I already had a green card, so I wanted to take that next step, especially for my family and my kids."
Valbuena said he had been studying for the exam throughout the spring, often listening to the questions at his locker before morning workouts. In the process, he learned a lot about American government and history, including Communism and the two World Wars.
"Oh my god," Valbuena said. "I was going crazy. I studied a lot because I didn't want to fail or go back and take it again. I studied a lot here in the morning, every moment that I could. I wasn't listening to music, it was the questions. Thank God, it went well."
A few minutes later, Valbuena's knowledge of U.S. presidential history was put to the test.
"Luis, who was the 35th president of the United States?" Kole Calhoun asked.
"I forgot everything," Valbuena said.
Jose Pujols received a "recharge day" and was out of the lineup against the Rockies on Friday at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Pujols, 38, is 7-for-32 (.219) in 12 Cactus League games and has been re-acclimating to first base this spring.
Bedrosian and Parker, who are closing options for the Angels, had rocky showings against Colorado on Friday. Bedrosian, who had logged four scoreless innings to start the spring, gave up a two-run homer to Gerardo Parra while walking two and striking out two over two-thirds of an inning. Parker surrendered two runs on three hits over 1 1/3 innings and now has a 17.47 ERA in Cactus League action.
With Shohei Ohtani on the mound for Friday's Cactus League game, JC Ramirez started a Minor League game against the Brewers at Angels camp and gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits over 4 2/3 innings. Ramirez walked one and struck out eight in his fourth outing of the spring.
Before Friday's game, star center fielder Michael Trout was inducted into the Arizona Fall League's Hall of Fame. The AFL is regarded as the top developmental league for prospects, as clubs annually send their most promising young players to accelerate their development against strong competition. Trout played for the Scottsdale Scorpions in 2011, when he was ranked the top prospect in baseball.
Garrett Richards is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Saturday, so left-hander John Lamb will get the start in the Angels' Cactus League game against the Mariners in Peoria. Lamb, a non-roster invitee who is projected to open the season at Triple-A Salt Lake, has recorded a 3.24 ERA over 8 1/3 innings in four appearances this spring. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. PT, and the game can be viewed on MLB.TV.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.