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Injuries will delay Angels' toughest roster decisions

March 23, 2011 | 11:55 am

Downs_240 With reliever Scott Downs and first baseman Kendrys Morales opening the season on the disabled list and starting pitcher Joel Pineiro and reserve outfielder Reggie Willits expected to open on the DL, the Angels will be able to put off some of their tougher roster decisions involving players such as infielder Brandon Wood, catcher Hank Conger and relievers Rich Thompson and Jason Bulger.

The Angels have two off days in the first week of the season and won't need a fifth starter until April 10, so they will likely open the season with four starters -- Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Scott Kazmir -- and seven relievers.

The bullpen will include Fernando Rodney, Kevin Jepsen, Hisanori Takahashi, Jordan Walden, Michael Kohn and Thompson, with Bulger, Francisco Rodriguez and possibly Bobby Cassevah battling for the final spot.

But when Pineiro and Downs return, the Angels would trim at least one, and possibly two relievers, which would leave Thompson and Bulger, who are out of options and have to clear waivers before being sent to the minor leagues, exposed.

Morales is out indefinitely as he tries to recover from a broken left leg and sore left foot, and it appears Mark Trumbo will open at first base. But Morales' injury will open a spot for Wood, who is also out of options. As of now, it appears the Angels will carry six infielders -- Erick Aybar, Alberto Callaspo, Maicer Izturis, Howie Kendrick, Trumbo and Wood.

Willits' injury means Chris Pettit will likely make the team as a fifth outfielder, joining Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos and Bobby Abreu.

Catcher Jeff Mathis and Bobby Wilson are locks, but if the Angels go with only four starting pitchers, that would open up a roster spot for them to carry an extra position player, which would probably be Conger.

So, if you're scoring at home, that's 11 pitchers, six infielders, five outfielders and three catchers for a total of 25 players.


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-- Mike DiGiovanna in Tempe, Ariz.

Photo: Scott Downs. Credit: Charlie Riedel /Associated Press.