The Angels have four players -- pitchers Rich Thompson and Jason Bulger, catcher Bobby Wilson and infielder Brandon Wood -- on their 40-man roster who are out of minor league options, meaning if the team tries to send them down to the minors the players must pass through waivers first, giving every other team a chance to claim them.
And that possibility will definitely affect the way Manager Mike Scioscia sets his opening day roster.
"Hopefully we’re going to be at 12," he said. "Realistically we do have some off-days early. We have a couple of guys who don’t have flexibility as far as going to the minors."
With three off-days in the first 15 days of the season, Scioscia now says the team could probably get through the first three weeks with just 11 pitchers. That would allow the team to keep both Wood and rookie Mark Trumbo as an insurance policy if Kendrys Morales and his bad ankle are less than 100% coming out of spring training.
Wilson and Bulger are both highly likely to make the team under any circumstances. Thompson, however, is on the bullpen bubble and any reduction in the size of the pitching staff could cost him a job. Putting someone on the disabled list for opening day would create another option, though.
"If somebody’s banged up at the end and on the DL we might have the option of being at 11 [pitchers] at the start of the season," he said.
Other Wednesday morning notes as the Angels prepare for their Cactus League exhibition with the Colorado Rockies:
- Scioscia said Morales is in the final stages of his treadmill program and is taking part in defensive drills at first base. There is still no timetable for when he'll be able to play in a game. But his swing is already in midseason form. Morales, batting left-handed, was impressive in batting practice Wednesday as the ball jumped off his bat. The switch-hitting slugger hit several balls over the wall, both towering fly balls and line drives. When he hits the ball it just sounds different, hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said. Scioscia added a note of caution. "There's a difference between hitting a ball at 50 mph in batting practice and hitting in a game," he said.
- No. 1 prospect Mike Trout has been limited to designated hitter duties because of a sore shoulder and Scioscia said the 19-year-old outfielder, a nonroster invitee to spring training, will be reassigned to minor league camp within a week. But he'll be leaving an impression behind. Scioscia said Trout got from home to first in 3.98 seconds after hitting a ground ball to short in a recent exhibition. That time ranks him among the fastest players in baseball history.
- Right-hander Trevor Bell, who hasn't pitched since coming out of his March 2 appearance with some stiffness, was scheduled to throw batting practice Wednesday and could be back in a game soon.
- With Morales' status for opening day uncertain. Wood has been seeing more and more action and first base during defensive drills.
- Infielder Alberto Callaspo's sore shoulder is recovering nicely and Scioscia said he could play in the field for the first time this spring in a couple of days.
-- Kevin Baxter in Tempe, Ariz.
Bottom photo: Jason Bulger. Credit: Jake Roth / US Presswire
Top photo: Bobby Wilson. Credit: Matt York / Associated Press