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Angels notes: Team to open with 12-man pitching staff; Butcher in uniform

February 16, 2011 | 11:16 am

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Manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday he is leaning heavily toward opening the season with a 12-man pitching staff, which is good news for a number of relievers competing for bullpen spots.

The rotation appears set, with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, Joel Pineiro and Scott Kazmir; and four relievers are locks: Fernando Rodney, Scott Downs, Kevin Jepsen and Hisanori Takahashi.

Young right-handers Jordan Walden and Michael Kohn, who were both impressive in abbreviated big-league stints last season, are leading candidates for two spots, with Jason Bulger, Francisco Rodriguez, Rich Thompson, Matt Palmer and Trevor Bell competing for spots.

Palmer and Bell are also starting pitchers, and the Angels will probably want to stretch them out at triple-A Salt Lake in case one of their starters is injured in April.

"It looks like we'll go with 12 pitchers to start the season, but we could go to 11 at some point," Scioscia said. "Our depth is going to be real."

Pitching coach Mike Butcher, who underwent surgery to have his thyroid removed last week after a cancerous growth was found on his neck, was in uniform for the first time Wednesday, watching bullpen sessions for about an hour.

Butcher looked good but will be limited for several more days. The Angels have been taping their pitchers' bullpen workouts, and Butcher has been watching them on the Internet.

"He's feeling a little stronger," Scioscia said, "but he's not ready for the full rigors of the day."

-- Mike DiGiovanna in Tempe, Ariz.

Photo: Angels manager Mike Scioscia meets with players and coaches after the team's first spring training workout on Feb. 14. Credit: Mark Duncan / Associated Press.

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