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Angels to sort out 6-man rotation this spring

Extra starter could ease Ohtani's transition, keep arms fresh
MLB.com @mi_guardado

TEMPE, Ariz. -- A six-man rotation has been mentioned as a possibility for the Angels for much of the offseason, and the idea received a level of confirmation Tuesday when pitchers and catchers reported to Tempe Diablo Stadium for the official start of Spring Training.

Manager Mike Scioscia said the Angels intend to use an expanded rotation in an effort to keep their starters healthy and smooth Shohei Ohtani's highly anticipated entry to the Majors this season.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- A six-man rotation has been mentioned as a possibility for the Angels for much of the offseason, and the idea received a level of confirmation Tuesday when pitchers and catchers reported to Tempe Diablo Stadium for the official start of Spring Training.

Manager Mike Scioscia said the Angels intend to use an expanded rotation in an effort to keep their starters healthy and smooth Shohei Ohtani's highly anticipated entry to the Majors this season.

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"I think a lot of times it's hard to find that fourth or fifth starter in the rotation, but if everyone comes back and is healthy for us, we're going to have some exceptional depth," Scioscia said. "I think with a six-man, it'll take a little bit of the burden off of guys to have to bounce back. We're going to be flexible, but right now that looks like the way we're going to map things out."

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Ohtani is expected to be joined in the Angels' rotation by Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney and Matt Shoemaker, with Nick Tropeano, JC Ramirez and Parker Bridwell likely competing for the sixth spot this spring.

The six-man rotation will be familiar territory for Ohtani, who pitched once a week in Japan, but the configuration will require adjustments from the Angels' starters accustomed to pitching in a five-man rotation. Still, most of the club's staff expressed a willingness to adapt to the new format.

"If it's a way for everybody to stay healthy and we can win ballgames, then I'm all for it," Richards said. "I'm sure it'll be something that will take awhile to get used to, and I'll have to kind of mold a little bit, but like I said, if we're winning ballgames, I don't really care."

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The Angels endured a rash of rotation injuries over the past two years, with Richards, Heaney, Skaggs, Shoemaker, Ramirez and Tropeano all missing significant chunks of the 2017 season. Richards, who has been limited to 12 starts over the past two seasons, said he thinks moving to a six-man rotation could help prevent injuries.

"I don't think it would do the opposite, right?" Richards said. "You're getting an extra day's rest in between, so theoretically you would think that it would be a beneficial thing."

Richards said he has already given some thought to how he would alter his in-between starts routine to accommodate a six-man rotation and mentioned throwing his bullpen on his fourth day of rest instead of his third as one possibility. Others said they would use the coming weeks to tinker with their routines if necessary.

"It's going to be interesting to see how we incorporate either a shorter, smaller bullpen or another workout day or another rest day," Shoemaker said. "Depending on what we do, maybe we'll toy with it now and see what works for us, because everybody is going to be different."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani