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Angels not interested in Jake Locker …

The Angels will pass on Jake Locker, thank you very much.

Locker, still only 26, announced his retirement from an injury-plagued career as an NFL quarterback on Tuesday. The Angels selected Locker in the 10th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, signing the two-sport star for $300,000 even though he was focused primarily on football because they’d hold his rights as a baseball player until August 2015.

But Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto, who didn’t arrive until November 2011, doesn’t see a fit.

“We’re not interested in him as a baseball player,” Dipoto said. “We’re going to focus on the guys we have. We have enough going on.”

Locker was a star pitcher, outfielder, quarterback and defensive back at Farndale High School in Washington. The Angels originally drafted him in the 40th round in ’06, but Locker didn’t sign so he could play quarterback at the University of Washington. They drafted him again three years later, even though Locker hadn’t played baseball regularly since high school.

Locker considered baseball merely as a fallback option, so remained in college for two more seasons, was drafted eighth overall by the Tennessee Titans in 2011, started only 12 games from 2013-14 and hung it up while in the early stages of free agency.

The Angels signed Locker under former GM Tony Reagins, while Dipoto was working in the D-backs’ front office.

“I knew his background only because he was a baseball prospect, football guy,” Dipoto said. “We weren’t really on him when I was in Arizona. Generally with the two-sport guys who we don’t think have interest in being a baseball player we don’t waste our time.”

Alden

ST Game No. 6: Angels 5, Rangers 4 …

Ranger Angels Spring BaseballJohnny Giavotella hit a one-out double in the left-center field gap, moved to third on a single by Eric Staments and scored on a wild pitch by Rangers reliever Lisalverto Bonilla, giving the Angels a walk-off win after three straight losses in the ninth inning.

Most important thing: C.J. Cron, who figures to get most of the DH at-bats, hit a majestic home run that landed at the edge of the grass in left-center field. He’s 5-for-14 so far this spring.

Second-most important thing: Hector Santiago served up a two-run homer to Leonys Martin, but he issued no walks and said he only got in one three-ball count during his three-inning outing. That’s the most important factor for him.

Third-most important thing: Marc Krauss, who has an outside shot at winning a spot on the roster as an additional left-handed bat, hit a two-run shot to center field in the eighth.

Fourth-most important thing: Dark-horse rotation candidate Jose Alvarez had four baserunners, gave up two hits and allowed a run in the eighth inning. Perhaps even more telling: He only pitched one inning, and it was the eighth.

Fifth-most important thing: Scott Snodgress came in with two on and two outs in the fourth, got left-handed hitter Rougned Odor to line out and pitched a clean fifth inning. Jerry Dipoto identified Snodgress as his best lefty reliever prospect today, which sounds weird because he was signed as a Minor League free agent. But he’s only 25 and is still transitioning to the bullpen.

Best defensive play (that I actually saw): To end the fourth, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus ranged deep in the hole, fielded an Alex Yarbrough grounder and retired him with a nice jump throw. He’s fun to watch.

Quotable: Santiago: “Last game I got a little amped up. This game, I was under control and it went exactly the way it went in the offseason [bullpen sessions].”

Alden

Dipoto: Hamilton ‘getting after it’ in injury rehab …

The Angels are still waiting word from Major League Baseball on a likely suspension for Josh Hamilton, who sources said had a drug-related relapse late in the offseason. There’s no sense for when a decision could come down, and general manager Jerry Dipoto still can’t comment on it.

For what it’s worth, though, Hamilton continues to rehab from surgery and is progressing towards baseball activities.

“What I understand from the [physical therapy] end of things is that he’s in there, he’s getting after it, he’s recovering very well,” Dipoto said. “I believe he’s taken a round of batting practice already. I don’t know if that’s ahead of schedule or on schedule, but he’s gone out and tried it. From what I understand, he’s recovering well and that part of the exercises is a net positive so far.”

That rehab, from surgery to his right AC joint in early February, could be meaningless, depending on how long MLB decides to suspend Hamilton. The Angels may eventually have to go find a bat, and will have the money to do so. But at the moment, Dipoto feels comfortable with the group he has and said he hasn’t really checked in on anybody.

Asked if he believes bats will be readily available in-season, Dipoto said, “It’s too early to tell. It’s really early. Even in the spring it’s really early. But there’s always guys available. It’s just a matter of what you have to give and what you’re willing to give. Right now we have a very flexible roster; we like our team. We’re not worried about the way the offense lines up.”

Daniel Robertson, CF
Collin Cowgill, RF
Matt Joyce, LF
David Freese, DH
C.J. Cron, 1B
Josh Rutledge, SS
Alex Yarbrough, 2B
Drew Butera, C
Taylor Featherston, 3B

SP: LH Hector Santiago

  • Garrett Richards threw to hitters in a live batting-practice session for the second time today, throwing somewhere in the vicinity of 40 pitches and taking a break at the midway point to simulate his normal time between innings. Dipoto watched the session and said his command is “pretty much” where it needs to be. “Physically, he’s probably ahead of 99 percent of the pitchers in Major League Baseball right now,” Dipoto added. “But we have to make concessions for where he’s been and take it day by day.” Richards could pitch in a game early next week.
  • Roberto Baldoquin is currently stuck in Haiti. The Cuban infielder initially established residency there, had to go back on Friday and has basically been sequestered in his hotel room while the government is in shutdown mode. He has all his paperwork to obtain his passport and come to the U.S., he just needs to have it physically in hand and can’t until the situation in Haiti gets settled. It could be any day, it could be a while.
  • Huston Street, Fernando Salas, Mike Morin, Vinnie Pestano, Jose Alvarez, Frank Herrmann, Danny Reynolds and Scott Snodgress are also slated to pitch on Tuesday. Joe Smith will make his first appearance later this week.
  • Freese is at DH because the Angels need to find someone who can be the backup third baseman. They don’t have a natural fit there at the moment. Featherston could help his chances greatly by showing well there this spring.

Alden

ST Game No. 5: Reds 7, Angels 5 …

Angels Spring BaseballMost important thing: Andrew Heaney (pictured) looked OK in his Cactus League debut, giving up a hit and a run, walking two and striking out three (including Joey Votto) in his three-inning outing. His main competition for a rotation spot, Nick Tropeano, struggled with his fastball command and it hurt with three straight long drives in the fifth — a double by Skip Schumaker off the right-center-field wall, a homer by Kyle Skipworth right around the same place and another homer to left by Jason Bourgoeis.

Second-most important thing: Up one with two on and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Mattheus — a long shot to make the Opening Day bullpen — served up a line-drive, walk-off three-run homer off the top of the right-field fence to Reds Minor League outfielder Juan Duran. It was the third straight game the Angels have lost in the ninth inning, after Edgar Ibarra gave up a couple of runs to the A’s on Saturday and Jeremy McBryde gave up four runs to the Royals on Sunday. You can officially get worried if it happens to Joe Smith and Huston Street.

Third-most important thing: Albert Pujols went 2-for-3 and drove in a couple with a line-drive single up the middle in the third. That’s four hits in the last two days for the Angels’ first baseman.

Fourth-most important thing: Johnny Giavotella sent a high fastball out to left-center field, Grant Green and Josh Rutledge each had opposite-field hits, and Taylor Featherston singled to left and stole a base. And that was your second base update for the day.

Fifth-most important thing: Mike Trout drew a walk on four straight pitches with first base open in the third and hit an infield single off Aroldis Chapman in the fifth. And that was your Mike Trout update for the day.

Best defensive play (that I actually saw): Non-roster outfielder Roger Kieshnick tracked a long fly ball from Brayan Pena, leaped up against the right-field fence and made a nifty catch for the second out of the sixth.

Quotable: Mike Scioscia on Tropeano and Heaney: ““For their first outing, they did fine. Chris [Iannetta] is trying to work with them to understand their stuff a little bit. It’s gonna take a little time. But I think the first impressions were very good. Nick Tropeano has terrific stuff. He just missed with his fastballs and those guys crushed them. Heaney looked strong. He has a lot of his life to his fastball.”

Alden

Matt Joyce: ‘I’ll be in there tomorrow’ …

Angels outfielder Matt Joyce took the last couple of days off due to stiffness in his right side but expects to be back in the lineup on Tuesday, when the Angels host the Rangers at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Joyce took some swings on Monday morning and said he feels “great.” The 30-year-old left-handed hitter felt soreness from swinging the bat on Saturday and the Angels told him to take a couple of days off as a precaution.

“I guess it’s just one of those things — it’s early, and every time you deal with your side, there’s a chance of having the oblique involved,” Joyce said. “They really want to be cautious. I’m not worried about it.”

A lot of starters are playing in back-to-back games for the second time this spring, and traveling all the way to Goodyear to do it …

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Erick Aybar, SS
C.J. Cron, DH
Chris Iannetta, C
Collin Cowgill, LF
Josh Rutledge, 2B
Kyle Kubitza, 3B

SP: LH Andrew Heaney

  • Nick Tropeano will also pitch, which officially makes this the start of what should be a fun competition between Tropeano and Heaney for a rotation spot. With Garrett Richards slated to start the season on the disabled list and Hector Santiago having far more experience, it could very well come down to these two.
  • Richards is slated to do some more pitchers’ fielding practice on Monday morning, which involves covering first base and basically simulating the play that led to a ruptured left patellar tendon on Aug. 20. Richards will throw to hitters for the second time on Tuesday and looks to be on track for Cactus League games by early next week. Mike Scioscia said he’s doing the PFP drills “as hard as he can.” “He really showed no favoring of his gait,” Scioscia said. “Right now there’s a conditioning component he needs, but he’s doing fine.”
  • The Angels expect Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin to report for Spring Training at some point this week. Baldoquin has been delayed by visa issues in the Dominican Republic. He was slated to spend the spring in Minor League camp, which recently began, but Angels coaches were looking forward to having him on the Major League side for drills earlier in camp.
  • Cesar Ramos, Matt Lindstrom, Frank Herrmann, Ryan Mattheus, Danny Reynolds, Scott Snodgress and Edgar Ibarra are also slated to pitch today.
  • Reds lineup is here.

Alden

ST Game No. 2: Angels 3, Rockies 0 …

Most important thing: The Angels put together another strong pitching performance, holding the Rockies to four hits. Jered Weaver threw 44 pitches in 2 2/3 innings (two hits, one walk, one strikeout); Drew Rucinski looked good in a two-inning outing; and bullpen candidates Matt Lindstrom, Ryan Mattheus and Frank Herrmann each threw scoreless frames.

Second-most important thing: The Angels made some nice defensive plays, too. Collin Cowgill gunned down Daniel Descalso trying to score on a sac fly with a perfect one-hop throw; Drew Butera showed off his nice arm by gunning down D.J. LeMahieu trying to steal second; Grant Green made a nice sprawling play on a short-hop to his right at second base; and Erick Aybar made a leaping catch.

Third-most important thing: For the second straight day, third base prospect Kyle Kubitza had a hard grounder eat him up at the hot corner. Mike Scioscia blamed that on the hard Arizona infield, which many say is tough to get accustomed to, and said Kubitza is a good defender who has looked good in drills.

Fourth-most important thing: Cesar Ramos broke an opposing left-handed hitter’s bat (Ben Paulson). It’s significant, somewhat, because Scioscia wants to use him as a lefty specialist.

Fifth-most important thing: Outfielder Daniel Robertson hit lefties well in a stint with the Rangers last year, but the scrappy right-handed hitter laced two hits against righties today. He’s a dark-horse candidate for the last bench spot.

More on the game here.

Alden

Lineups and Notes, ST Game 2 …

The first five hitters are starting off the Cactus League schedule playing in back-to-back games and the Angels’ Opening Day starter gets his first outing against the Rockies …

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Matt Joyce, DH
Erick Aybar, SS
Collin Cowgill, LF
Drew Butera, C
Grant Green, 2B
Kyle Kubitza, 3B

SP: RH Jered Weaver

  • When Cesar Ramos was acquired in early November, the Angels made him one promise and only one promise: “You’ll pitch.” It was a refreshing sentiment for the 30-year-old left-hander who frequently went 15 days without pitching in Tampa Bay. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said “his best role is to match up against a lefty. He spins the ball wall, but he can give you long or multi-innings if you have to.” Ramos has never really been used as a lefty specialist. He has a four-pitch mix, but could shorten that if he’s pitching to only one or two batters a game. Scioscia said the Angels “need enough length in our staff” in order to free Ramos up to be a lefty specialist. The presence of Cory Rasmus could accomplish that.
  • Matt Harvey made his first post-Tommy John surgery start for the Mets on Friday, and Tyler Skaggs — in the early part of his own recovery from TJ — is monitoring his progress, as well as Jose Fernandez‘s. “I want to see how they do,” Skaggs said. “I would think that I’ll come back stronger, better. I want to see if these guys are going to do that.”
  • Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano will both pitch in Monday’s game, with Heaney likely starting. After that it’ll go to Hector Santiago once again. C.J. Wilson and Matt Shoemaker go Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
  • Rockies lineup here. In case you missed it, here’s a handy little Spring Training guide.

Alden

ST Game No. 1: Angels 3, Brewers 2 …

Brewers Angels Spring BaseballMost important thing: Mike Trout swung at the very first pitch he saw and flied out to deep right-center field, then talked about how he wants to be more aggressive early in counts in hopes of avoiding a high strikeout total. Maybe not super significant, but hey, it’s Mike Trout.

Second-most important thing: C.J. Cron lined a double and a single to the opposite field against opposing right-handed pitchers. The young, right-handed power hitters is looking to get everyday at-bats at designated hitter with Josh Hamilton‘s situation so unclear. Seeing the ball well against righties is a good start.

Third-most important thing: Josh Rutledge started the game and hit an RBI single.

Fourth-most important thing: Hector Santiago threw two scoreless innings and said he was able to slow everything down mentally in an 11-pitch second inning.

Fifth-most important thing: New third base prospect Kyle Kubitza struck out both times he came to bat, then saw a sharp grounder go under his glove in a backhand attempt.

Best defensive play (that I actually saw): To end the first inning, Chris Iannetta fired to second and picked off Brewers leadoff hitter Scooter Gennett, who was ultimately tagged out in a rundown.

Quotable: Mike Scioscia, when asked what stood out to him most about the first game: “I thought Chris looked really good behind the plate, and I thought Carlos Perez looked good behind the plate. On the infield, [Johnny] Giavotella and Rutledge looked comfortable on their side. And I think Jose Alvarez looked like he was attacking the zone well.”

Taco Power Rankings (updated every Thursday): 1. Los Taquitos, 2. The Mission, 3. El Hefe, 4. Tortas El Rey, 5. Sombrero’s Mexican Grill, 6. Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, 7. Comedor Guadelajara, 8. Senor Taco, 9. Carolina’s Mexican Food, 10. Poliberto’s Taco Shop, 11. Salty Senorita

Alden

Opening Day lineup? Possibly …

Asked if his first lineup of Cactus League play will be the same as his Opening Day lineup, Angels manager Mike Scioscia just laughed. But it sure is possible, perhaps likely (except Jered Weaver would be starting, of course).

Here’s what it looks like …

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Matt Joyce, LF
David Freese, 3B
Erick Aybar, SS
C.J. Cron, DH
Chris Iannetta, C
Josh Rutledge, 2B

SP: LH Hector Santiago

  • Each player will get at least two at-bats, with Santiago — who has thrown like 25 bullpen sessions before this start — will go two or three innings.
  • Jose Alvarez, Adam Wilk, Cory Rasmus, Trevor Gott and Jeremy McBryde are slated to pitch in this game, as well.
  • Scioscia doesn’t think it’ll tough to get all the rotation candidates innings. They have a split-squad game on the 14th and a “B” game on the 19th.
  • Garrett Richards will repeat the PFP drills he completed yesterday, and his next step could be throwing to hitters in live BP. That could be his final stage before making his Cactus League debut.
  • The Angels still plan to fold Joyce into first base to see if he’s an option to play there part time.
  • In case you missed it, I categorized each of the 63 players who were invited to Angels Spring Training here.

Alden

We’ll start with 61 …

Angels Spring BaseballThe Angels’ Spring Training roster is officially at 63 players. One of those guys is Josh Hamilton, who has spent the spring in Houston and is awaiting a potential suspension from Major League Baseball. The other is Tyler Skaggs, who will spend the entire year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

As for the 61 others?

With the Angels’ Cactus League schedule starting Thursday, I’ve categorized each of those 61 players based on where they stand in Spring Training. Hopefully it’ll help make everything a lot easier as you watch these games and see all those high uniform numbers march to the field.

First, a few points worth making …

  • Alex Yarbrough is included in one of the competitions, but it’s a bit of a reach. He doesn’t really have a shot at being the starting second baseman, but Mike Scioscia (pictured) said they’re trying the young second baseman out at third base, first base and left field to see if he has some versatility, so there’s a chance he can make the team as a utility guy. Otherwise, he’d be listed as a prospect.
  • Backup catcher is listed as a competition, but Drew Butera is out of options and is pretty much a lock.
  • Johnny Giavotella is also out of options.
  • Garrett Richards is expected to start the season on the disabled list, so two rotation spots are up for grabs.
  • If Hector Santiago doesn’t crack the rotation — I expect him to if Richards is starting the season on the DL — he’ll be used out of the bullpen.
  • Cory Rasmus is listed among the competitors for the starting rotation because he’ll be stretched out this spring, but I think it’s a lot more likely that he makes the Opening Day roster as a reliever.
  • In tune with all that, I pretty much consider the the last two rotation spots a three-man race between Santiago, Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano, but hey, anything can happen.
  • Matt Lindstrom is an XX(B) free agent, which in most cases is a player who has six years of Major League service time and signs a Minor League contract. Because of that, he can opt out of his deal (or be paid a $100,000 retention bonus) if he isn’t on the Opening Day roster.
  • There’s a good chance three of the five guys vying for the second base/utility job make the team.
  • C.J. Cron is pretty much a lock and I expect him to get a lot of at-bats at designated hitter, especially against left-handed pitching. Collin Cowgill should also find his way into the lineup a lot of times.
  • Cracking the Opening Day roster is basically a nominal distinction. Rosters change a gazillion times over the course of a season.

Angels Spring BaseballLOCKS

Lineup

17: Chris Iannetta, C
05: Albert Pujols, 1B
06: David Freese, 3B
02: Erick Aybar, SS
20: Matt Joyce, LF
27: Mike Trout, CF (pictured)
56: Kole Calhoun, RF

Rotation

36: Jered Weaver, RH
43: Garrett Richards, RH
33: C.J. Wilson, LH
52: Matt Shoemaker, RH

Bullpen

16: Huston Street, CL
38: Joe Smith, SU
64: Mike Morin, MR
59: Fernando Salas, MR
37: Cesar Ramos, MR

Bench

07: Collin Cowgill, OF

Angels Spring BaseballCOMPETING

Second baseman/utility infielder

08: Taylor Featherston, 2B/SS
12: Johnny Giavotella, 2B/3B/LF
10: Grant Green, 2B/LF
13: Josh Rutledge, 2B/SS
81: Alex Yarbrough, 2B/3B/1B/LF

Starting rotation

58: Jose Alvarez, LH
28: Andrew Heaney, LH (pictured)
46: Cory Rasmus, RH
51: Drew Rucinski, RH
53: Hector Santiago, LH
35: Nick Tropeano, RH

Bullpen

68: Cam Bedrosian, RH
41: Frank Herrmann, RH
22: Matt Lindstrom, RH
47: Ryan Mattheus, RH
60: Jeremy McBryde, RH
63: Vinnie Pestano, RH
65: Danny Reynolds, RH
71: Atahualpa Severino, LH
73: Scott Snodgress, LH

Additional bat

24: C.J. Cron, 1B, RHH
54: Roger Kieschnick, LF/RF, LHH
39: Marc Krauss, 1B/LF/RF, LHH
57: Alfredo Marte, LF/CF/RF, RHH
19: Efren Navarro, 1B/LF/RF, LHH
44: Daniel Robertson, LF/CF/RF, RHH

Backup catcher

22: Drew Butera, RHH
99: Carlos Perez, RHH
98: Jett Bandy, RHH

Angels Spring BaseballMINORS BOUND

Prospects

84: Trevor Gott, RP
75: Kyle Kubitza, 3B (pictured)
86: Sean Newcomb, SP
85: Nate Smith, SP
74: Eric Stamets, SS

Veterans

97: Charles Cutler, C/1B/LF
96: Stephen McGee, C
79: Edgar Ibarra, RP
87: Sherman Johnson, 2B/3B
80: D’Arby Myers, LF/CF/RF
40: Alex Sanabia, SP
88: Albert Suarez, SP
49: Ryan Wheeler, 1B/3B
72: Adam Wilk, SP
48: Jackson Williams, C

PROJECTED OPENING DAY ROSTER (I reserve the right to change my mind)

Starters: Weaver, Wilson, Shoemaker, Santiago, Heaney
Relievers: Street, Smith, Morin, Salas, Ramos, Lindstrom, Rasmus
Lineup: Iannetta, Pujols, Rutledge, Freese, Aybar, Joyce, Trout, Calhoun, Cron
Bench: Butera, Featherston, Giavotella, Cowgill

Photos courtesy of The Associated Press.

Alden

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