Angels reconsidering bullpen, utility infielder
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Two near-certainties at Angels camp were that Joe Blanton wouldn't make the team as a reliever and that the backup infielder job was basically a two-man race between John McDonald and Andrew Romine, the two guys who have Major League experience and can handle shortstop.
On Wednesday morning, Angels manager Mike Scioscia opened the door for alternative scenarios, starting Grant Green at shortstop at Scottsdale Stadium -- with Romine coming off the bench -- and raising the possibility of an eight-man bullpen, a move that could be done to make room for Blanton.
The reason for eight relievers, which would give the Angels only a three-man bench to open the season, is two-fold:
1. None of the three young starters projected to round out the rotation beyond Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson -- Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs -- have pitched a full season in a Major League rotation, which could necessitate an additional reliever.
2. It would give the Angels an avenue to keep Blanton, who's owed $8.5 million, can't be optioned to the Minor Leagues and may be useful to the club as a swingman and No. 6 starter.
"Our first focus is to get guys who can hold leads," Scioscia said. "If you look at our rotation, especially with some of the projected young guys who are trying to vie for positions, you're going to need to maybe hold some leads earlier when guys' pitch counts are getting away from them and you might have to go with some guys more. But we're still three weeks away from any decisions on that."
Green could challenge Romine and McDonald for the job as utility infielder if he proves he can handle shortstop and third base.
That's still a big question, though.
Green, acquired from the A's for Alberto Callaspo last July, is a better hitter than Romine and McDonald, but nowhere near as good a defender. He came up as a shortstop, but quickly moved out of the position, grew more comfortable at second base and has hardly played third base in his five-year pro career.
Green played six innings against the Giants and handled the only two routine grounders hit to him, charging one and ranging slightly to his left for the other.
"He had an unbelievable workout with [infield coach] Alfredo [Griffin] last week from the left side," Scioscia said. "He made some changes as far as getting his legs into the throw. His arm has more than he's shown. If he can carry it over into a game, he has the arm strength to play shortstop. There's no doubt he's in that mix."