Hector Santiago hopes for a spot on Angels roster

With the Angels acquiring Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano, it could be tough to claim the fifth rotation spot

Hector Santiago entered his first spring training with the Angels in 2014 with a rotation spot secured. This spring, the left-hander is fighting for a roster spot with no guarantee of a job as a starter or reliever.

"It's disappointing, but I really can't be mad at anybody," said Santiago, who was acquired from the Chicago White Sox before 2014. "I put myself in this situation."

Santiago, 27, was demoted to the bullpen after going 0-6 with a 5.19 earned-run average in his first seven starts last season. He made two relief appearances and was sent to triple-A on May 21.

Santiago was recalled on June 10, and though he often ran his pitch counts up and gave up a few big innings, he was solid, going 6-3 with a 3.30 ERA in 21 games, 17 of them starts, striking out 77 and walking 35 in 90 innings.

But the Angels acquired highly touted pitching prospects Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano this winter, and both are candidates for the fifth rotation spot behind Jered Weaver, Garrett Richards, C.J. Wilson and Matt Shoemaker.

The Angels also acquired veteran left-handed reliever Cesar Ramos from Tampa Bay and have better overall bullpen depth, which could make it tough for Santiago to claim a long-relief job.

Santiago will be stretched out as a starter this spring, and with Richards possibly opening on the disabled list while he recovers from knee surgery, Santiago will have a good shot of winning a rotation spot in April. But he will have to remain flexible.

"I like starting, and I'm ready to prove myself again," Santiago said. "But if I'm a swing man out of the bullpen, a one-inning guy, a long reliever, a spot starter, I'm ready for anything. I've done it all before."

Breaking rank

Matt Joyce, a 2011 All-Star acquired from the Rays, hopes to shed his reputation as a platoon player, and it appears the Angels will give him that chance. Manager Mike Scioscia said Joyce will "definitely" be an option as an everyday corner outfielder or designated hitter.

Joyce, who bats left-handed, has a .261 average, .356 on-base percentage and .463 slugging percentage in 1,859 career at-bats against right-handers. But he's had only 323 at-bats against left-handers, with a .189/.258/.316 slash line.

"I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to face left-handers," Joyce said. "It's weird how it's become such a stigma around the game that left-handers can't hit left-handers. It makes no sense. You face them through high school, college, the minor leagues. It's really nothing crazy. Like anything, it becomes a lot harder when you don't do it a lot."

Against right-handers, Joyce could bat either ahead of Mike Trout or behind Albert Pujols.

"Wow, I don't know how you can go wrong with either," Joyce said. "To hit in front of Trout … I could fall in love with that."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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