As the Angels open camp this week in Tempe, Arizona, the club's coaching staff and front office have few decisions to make prior to the end of spring training. Heading into the 2011 season, the Angel roster, with just a couple exceptions, is already set:
Starting pitchers: Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, Joel Pineiro, and Scott Kazmir.
Relief pitchers: Fernando Rodney, Scott Downs, Hisanori Takahashi, Kevin Jepsen, Rich Thompson, Jordan Walden, and Jason Bulger.
C: Jeff Mathis
1B: Kendry Morales
2B: Howie Kendrick
3B: Alberto Callaspo
SS: Erick Aybar
LF: Vernon Wells
CF: Peter Bourjos
RF: Torii Hunter
DH: Bobby Abreu
Utl: Bobby Wilson, Maicer Izturis, Reggie Willits, and Brandon Wood.
Players out of options: Rich Thompson, Jason Bulger, and Bobby Wilson.
Things to watch for:
- Brandon Wood playing first base. Although he's only played 43 major league innings at first base, Wood is the only player on the above roster, other than Howie Kendrick, capable of giving Morales some time off. From early reports, Morales may not be completely healed from the broken leg he suffered on May 29th of last year and may need some extra time early this season.
- What about Hank Conger? Unless something drastic happens such as an injury or trade, expect Conger to open the season in Salt Lake City. The Angels' love affair with Jeff Mathis and with Bobby Wilson being out of options leaves Conger the odd man out behind the plate.
- Final spot in the bullpen. How the Angels use the final spot in the bullpen will depend on how well Scott Kazmir pitches this spring. If Kazmir is able to bounce back from last season's disappointment on the mound to have a strong spring, the Angels could put either Jordan Walden or Francisco Rodriquez in the pen. However, if Kazmir continues to struggle, the bullpen will need a pitcher such as Trevor Bell or Matt Palmer who is able to give them more than a couple innings. Another option in the Angels rotation or long relief may be newly acquired Hisanori Takahashi. Takahashi started 12 games for the New York Mets in 2010, but pitched much better out of the bullpen (5.01 ERA as a SP, 2.04 in relief).