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Angels start three competitors in outfield

Young, Liriano, Hermosillo each vying for same spot
Special to MLB.com

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Angels' outfield on Monday against the Reds featured a trio of players competing for one spot -- at best. Eric Young Jr. in center, Rymer Liriano in left, and Michael Hermosillo in right could all figure into the outfield mix at some point, but there may not be a position for them on Opening Day.

Manager Mike Scioscia is looking at a three-man bench, a result of his six-man rotation, an eight-man bullpen, and the fact that starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani can also serve as a DH when he's not pitching.

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Angels' outfield on Monday against the Reds featured a trio of players competing for one spot -- at best. Eric Young Jr. in center, Rymer Liriano in left, and Michael Hermosillo in right could all figure into the outfield mix at some point, but there may not be a position for them on Opening Day.

Manager Mike Scioscia is looking at a three-man bench, a result of his six-man rotation, an eight-man bullpen, and the fact that starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani can also serve as a DH when he's not pitching.

View Full Game Coverage

"Right now, with the template of our roster, you're looking at four outfielders," Scioscia said. "Our bench will need to be versatile, but we need the infielder, we need the catcher and we need an outfielder."

Hermosillo doesn't realistically see himself in the mix for Opening Day, with Chris Young slotted into the fourth outfielder slot.

"I know that I'm probably going to start at Triple-A, and I'm definitely not disappointed about that," Hermosillo said. "I understood that would probably be the case. I'm still trying to do whatever I can just to keep [myself] in their mind."

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Hermosillo, 23, has been moving quickly through the system, playing at Class A Inland Empire, Double-A Mobile, and Triple-A Salt Lake City in 2017, hitting a combined .267 with nine homers and 44 RBI in 120 games. The Angels likely want to see him playing every day somewhere, and with only 30 games at Triple-A under his belt, he's probably right to set his expectations there.

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Eric Young Jr., 32, comes from another perspective. In 2017, Young played 47 games for the Angels, much of it filling in for the injured Mike Trout, and hit .264 (29-for-110). It was his best season since 2012, when he hit .316 in 98 games for the Rockies.

"At this stage in my career it doesn't really matter what my role is," Young said. "Just any way I can help the team. Whatever they ask me, I'm ready to do."

Young has the versatility that can come into play on the Angels' bench, with most of his playing time coming in left. He's played 77 games in center, including 15 last season, and he's played 54 games at second base.

"I still take my grounders, so I'm ready for whatever," Young said. "That way the team has options in case anybody gets hurt -- they don't necessarily have to panic. We're capable of doing a lot of things."

Video: SEA@LAA: Young Jr. crushes a three-run homer in 7th

With Chris Young nursing a calf injury in Spring Training, the potential to draw on the depth in the system could come into play earlier than expected, and the ability to fill multiple roles will elevate a player's stock.

"Anybody that's going to make our team as a fourth outfielder certainly needs to have the versatility to play all three [positions]," Scioscia said. "Center field obviously becomes a priority. That could be a difference maker if a guy can't play center."

Eric Young is less than five years removed from a 46-steal season split between the Rockies and Mets in 2013, and his 12 steals last year show he's still got legs.

"I'm still moving," Young said. "I'm pretty sure my teammates would say I'm still moving pretty fast, so I'll take it."

While Hermosillo is soaking up the big league atmosphere, picking brains of fellow outfielders like Trout and Justin Upton and hoping his number gets called at some point in the season, Young is preparing himself for Opening Day in what would be his 10th big league season.

"You want to work on your timing, get the reps out on the defensive side," Young said. "The main part is staying healthy. You see a lot of guys get banged up in Spring Training. I just want to make sure the body's ready to go on all cylinders when Opening Day comes."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels, Michael Hermosillo, Eric Young Jr., Rymer Liriano