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Tropeano dazzles with 9 K's in rotation audition

Scioscia happy with veteran second baseman Kinsler atop lineup
Special to MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Nick Tropeano had an impressive start against the Rangers, allowing two hits over 5 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out nine and walking two.

He struck out five in a row at one point, sitting down all three hitters he faced in the second inning and the first two in the third.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Nick Tropeano had an impressive start against the Rangers, allowing two hits over 5 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out nine and walking two.

He struck out five in a row at one point, sitting down all three hitters he faced in the second inning and the first two in the third.

"This is the first time I really had the regular 'D' behind me," Tropeano said. "Just looking behind and seeing those guys with that defense, it gave me great confidence to go out there and just throw strikes."

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Tropeano did not pitch last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2016.

"Every time you go out there, you want to do well," Tropeano said. "No matter how good you're feeling, you want good results. Sometimes it doesn't happen.

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"In spring, most guys are working on stuff. Like me, I'm working on a lot of stuff. Today was working on all of my pitches, trying to be down in the zone, try not to fall behind counts and minimize batters."

He is trying to forge his way into the Angels' rotation but could open the season with Triple-A Salt Lake.

"There's what eight of us competing for the five, six [rotation] jobs," Tropeano said. "We're all MLB caliber. Either I start at Triple-A or someone else starts. We're all going to be up there. In order for us to win a championship like we want to, all of us will have to contribute. It's really what it comes down to."

Halos happy with Kinsler
Ian Kinsler should provide what the Angels' offense lacked last season: a second baseman with some pop in his bat.

A conglomeration of Angels second basemen combined to hit .206 last season. Their .327 slugging percentage and .601 OPS ranked last in the Majors, while their .274 on-base percentage ranked 29th.

Enter Kinsler, who was acquired in a Dec. 13 trade with the Tigers. He had a .313 on-base percentage, a .412 slugging percentage and a .725 OPS last season. Angels second basemen hit 14 home runs in 2017, while Kinsler hit 22.

Video: CIN@LAA: Kinsler cranks his first homer as an Angel

The 35-year-old Kinsler will bat leadoff, as he has for the majority of his 12 big league seasons.

"I think he's doing what we anticipated in the small sample of games that we see," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Sunday. "We've seen him set the table. We've seen him with big hits. We've seen the defensive presence. He's more than just a guy that is going to hit first for us. He's an important part of our lineup. That's what we're going to focus on."

Kinsler is hitting .290 in Cactus League play.

Camp battle
Right-hander Luke Bard, a Rule 5 Draft pick, gave up a run on two hits, including a triple to Drew Robinson in the eighth inning. Bard has a 7.00 ERA in eight relief appearances, allowing nine hits in nine innings and has struck out seven, walked two and hit a batter.

Up next
Angels right-hander Osmer Morales will start Monday night against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Morales has a 7.36 ERA in four relief appearances this spring. First pitch is at 6:10 p.m. PT, and the game can be watched live on MLB.TV and heard live on Gameday Audio.

Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels, Luke Bard, Ian Kinsler, Nick Tropeano