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Angels split up to give rookies a last look

Spring training has reached a critical juncture.

Oh, sure, camps have been open for nearly a month, and there is still three weeks left before opening day, meaning the excitement of getting started has faded and it's still too early to be thinking about the first day of the season.

For some of the regulars, the biggest challenge now is fighting off boredom.

But with minor-league camps beginning to open, several teams will begin moving prospects out of their major-league clubhouses to create more playing time for their regulars. For those players, the next few days represent a final opportunity to leave an impression on the big-league coaching staff. And the Angels' minor leaguers are no exception, which is why Mike Scioscia's team will play split-squad games twice in the next four days to get a final look at some of the top players in the organization.

Thursday, Scioscia will go to Peoria, in part to see the division-rival Seattle Mariners for the first time this spring but also to take a long look at some players fighting for a place on this year's roster and others who will soon be knocking on the door.

Among the players going across town with Scioscia are right-hander Matt Palmer, in a three-way battle for the final spot on the Angels' pitching staff; third baseman Brandon Wood, who is out of options but hardly a lock for the opening day roster; Hank Conger, who is fighting Bobby Wilson for the backup catcher job; and 19-year-old phenom Mike Trout, who is batting .364 in his first big-league camp.

Staying back in Tempe to play the Royals will be most of the Angels' regulars. Bench coach Rob Picciolo will manage a team that will include Vernon Wells playing in center field for the first time as an Angel, making room for Bobby Abreu to get some much-needed time in left field. Joel Pineiro will make his third start of the spring on the mound, going four innings or 55 pitches.

Thursday's lineups:

vs. Seattle at Peoria

RF -- Reggie Willits

CF -- Peter Bourjos

DH -- Mike Trout

3B -- Brandon Wood

LF -- Chris Pettit

C -- Hank Conger

1B --Gabe Jacobo

SS -- Andrew Romine

2B -- Gil Velaquez

P -- Matt Palmer

vs. Kansas City at Tempe

3B -- Maicer Izturis

LF -- Bobby Abreu

RF -- Torii Hunter

CF -- Vernon Wells

2B -- Howie Kendrick

SS -- Erick Aybar

DH -- Alberto Callaspo

1B -- Mark Trumbo

C -- Jeff Mathis

P -- Joel Pineiro

-- Kevin Baxter in Tempe

 
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