Roster squeeze not so tight after all

TEMPE, Ariz. – If the Angels open the season with Joel Pineiro joining Kendrys Morales, Scott Downs and Reggie Willits on a crowded disabled list, they won’t have as many difficult roster decisions to make as originally projected.

There will be room for Brandon Wood and Mark Trumbo, for Chris Pettit and Hank Conger, for Rich Thompson and Jason Bulger. All had been considered possible Opening Day discards.

Thompson, Bulger, Wood and Bobby Wilson are all out of Minor League options and must be on the 25-man roster or disabled list to avoid being subjected to waivers.

With three off days surrounding the first 12 games of the season, the club can get by with four starting pitchers. This gives Pineiro the opportunity to fully recover from a muscle issue in his back by recovering at his own speed in camp.

Willits has been slowed by a left calf strain, clearing the way for Pettit to show he’s capable of being a quality backup outfielder with his slashing hitting style.

Wood’s has the ability to play three infield positions well and bring the threat of thunder off the bench along with depth at third with Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo.

Trumbo will open at first base in Morales’ absence. Coverage there will come from Howard Kendrick, Wood and Wilson, who figures to open as Jeff Mathis’ backup behind the plate.

Thompson and Bulger provide middle relief support in the early going. When Downs returns, his left big toe mended, and a decision will have to be made, assuming Pineiro already has returned to the rotation.

If Conger is dispatched to Triple-A Salt Lake, it will be with the specific purpose of keeping him sharp catching regularly. He has the ability to be a switch-hitting weapon off the bench, but that doesn’t come into play in the American League as much in the National League.

Sure-handed shortstop Andrew Romine is a candidate to break camp with the club if Conger is sent to Salt Lake.

Reliever Kevin Jepsen, who felt tightness in his left hip while warming up on a cold, rainy Monday in Tempe, was feeling better on Wednesday and expects to be back in game conditions as early as Thursday. – Lyle Spencer


  1. angel61

    Actually, not all the players mentioned above will be on the DL. I expect our opening day 25 to look like this: Pitchers (12) – Weaver, Haren, Santana, Pineiro, Kazmir, Rodney, Jepsen, Takahashi, Thompson, Kohn, Walden and…..Bell. Bulger has had a poor Spring, but is out of options and could be released. Since Takahashi is the only left-hander in the pen, I expect another pitcher to be named to fill the “swing” role. This will be either Palmer or Bell. Palmer has had a poor Spring, making Bell the probable candidate. Palmer, on the other hand, has more experience at the major league level. Catchers – Mathis, Wilson. Infielders – Izturis, Trumbo, Kendrick, Aybar, Callaspo and Wood. Outfielders – Abreu, Hunter, Bourjos, Wells and Willits. That’s our 25. The only debate in my mind is whether Scioscia will select Palmer, rather than Bell. I think Bulger is history, though he has great stuff. His selection would be a safe choice, as he is out of options.

  2. angelsfan6

    i appreciate you trying to find a silver lining in this whole situation mr. spencer, but there is absolutely nothing good that can be said about brandon wood & chris pettit being on the opening day roster instead of pineiro, morales, & downs, regardless of the circumstances. and the fact that scott kazmir will be our #4 starter for even the shortest time is enough to make any realistically thinking fan vomit. let’s not kid ourselves. the rangers (and possibly even oakland) are better than us this year. that doesn’t mean we can’t win the division, (san fran won the world series last year & they weren’t the best team in baseball) but we cannot afford to lose quality veterans to the disabled list and replace them with triple-a trash. you just simply can’t sugarcoat the fact that every game counts for us this year, and having our #1 hitter, (morales) our #1 relief pitcher, (downs) and one of the top 5 #4 starters in the league (pineiro) out with injuries for any time period could come back to haunt us @ the end of the year, particularly in the case of morales. we already know that our lead-off hitter (izturis) will be making his annual trip to the disabled list, and with our other lead-off options looking about as poor as a typical scott kazmir pitching line, that will be more than enough. we need a healthy year in order for this team to have a realistic shot at the postseason and this is not the start we wanted to get off to.

  3. muzikman1

    I not only see this as a silver lining… I think the ripple effects can have some long term benefit for the ballclub that far outweigh the few weeks to month without the guys in question.

    Brandon Wood I have always believed is the Angels 3rd baseman of the future. While he got a late start on his productive spring, this buys time to avoid a choice that could be viewed as a HUGE mistake later. Brandon Wood looks confident… but more than that, he looks like a ballplayer who can live up to his lofty billing. His approach at the plate is light years from where it has been… he is driving through the hips, he is attacking hitter pitches and for the seemingly the first time laying off pitchers pitches. He is fouling off or laying off his achilles heel (outside curveballs). We always knew the physical tools were there, but confidence, approach and plate discipline all seemed lacking.

    This is the brandon Wood that the Angels always told us they had. Now give him another shot… By May or June I expect he will have nailed down the job and wont be giving it up for years….
    Giving Thompson and Bulger a chance to stick can also have some tremendous benefit to the organization not only this year… but beyond.

  4. brianx

    OK panic-monkeys…
    I would venture to say that anyone who jumped on the wagon after 2002 will be completely frustrated after all the miss ludicrous signings that would have been extrememly bad business, the bad calls in the playoff’s and of course the under-achieving of top prospects. The best definition I can give you of that syndrome is… MBUA or “modern baseball unnecessary aggravation”.

    In this day of ROI and Working Capital/Cash is King business, we need to be realistic and know that MLB and it’s owners are trying to survive in some cases and fill pockets in others. We have one of the best owners in baseball period. He is a smart business man, a baseball fan and really appreciates the fan base. The coaches and players are competitive winners all with extremely high baseball IQ’s.

    So all that said, your lineup is as good as any… and has tons of potential. The same guys who gave us Kendrys brought us Woody. The worst thing we could do with Woody is give up, and the coaches and GM know that. But, they might have to cut their losses to, another reallity of the business of baseball.

    So all we can do right now is predict, hope and watch. I for one like this look until it proves to need a tweak or two.

    1.EA ss
    2.BA dh
    3.TH rf
    4.VW lf
    5.MT 1b
    6.HK 2b
    7.BW 3b
    8.JM c
    9.PB cf

    If BW goes under 200 in first April, then platoon in MI or AC. If BW cannot find it by May, then get ready to trade. Same process for PB, but maybe a little more time, in that case, put VW back into center and stick BA in lf and give Trumbo lot’s of AB’s out of DH and train him defensively in the outfield or 3b.

    Go Halo’s!!! I believe!!!!
    Pitching will be fine, that is just a shuffling job.

  5. blithescribe

    Thanks for keeping us updated even beyond the MLB articles, Lyle. Of course I wish Kendrys didn’t have to start the season on the DL but given his plateau I was actually glad to hear the team made it official and took the pressure off of him to even try to be ready for opening day. I want him to play, but not before he?s really ready. That said, I’m really excited to see what Mark Trumbo can do in the regular season now that he’s adapted to major league pitching. If he proves to be a good temporary fix at first, I hope there room to keep him on to spell Kendrys throughout the season. And I really hope that Pineiro doesn’t have to start the season on the DL – though I would rather take precautions early in the season if it’s necessary. I’m not crying gloom and doom at all, but our starting rotation is one of our biggest assets and I don’t want to lose a key piece of it for even a few starts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s