Drew Rucinski, Marc Krauss make strong bids for spots on Angels roster

Pitcher Drew Rucinski, outfielder-first baseman Marc Krauss vie for spots on Angels

Baseball uses numbers to measure just about everything. But not who makes the team.

Who sticks on a major league roster, and who heads to the minor leagues or gets cut, is the subjective decision of the manager, coaching staff and front office. Beyond how he produces, a player has little control of the situation.

"You can't worry about it," Angels pitcher Drew Rucinski said, summing up the feeling of a vast majority of players. "Pieces will fall where they will."

Added outfielder-first baseman Marc Krauss: "Whatever happens will happen. I'm not really too worried about it."

With the season opener only two weeks away, Rucinski and Krauss are on the roster bubble.

Rucinski, 26, arrived at spring training with only an outside shot of making the team after a three-game trial last summer. But he is in contention for a bullpen spot by striking out 12 batters in 12 innings. He hasn't given up a run in his last 8 2/3 innings, giving up only two hits.

Also working in Rucinski's favor is the loss of long reliever Cory Rasmus, who had abdominal surgery and is expected to sit out about two months.

"You can't ask for a guy to do more than he's done," Manager Mike Scioscia said of Rucinski. "We'll evaluate where our staff is and what's going on. But he's got a number of opportunities to earn a spot on our staff."

Knowing he's close won't change his approach, Rucinski said.

"Focus and keep going," he said. "Keep throwing strikes. Keep just working on stuff, getting better. Nothing crazy."

Rucinski made 26 starts for double-A Arkansas last season, when he had a 10-6 record and 3.15 earned-run average. Scioscia said the Angels continue to project Rucinski as a starter, but if the right-hander makes the team this spring it will be as a long reliever.

"Anyway you can get to Anaheim, then get to Anaheim," Rucinski said. "It doesn't matter. Whatever you want me to do."

Krauss' odds of making it to Anaheim are longer, especially now that he's fighting back spasms that sidelined him Monday. He is no better than fifth on the outfield depth chart and at first base he is behind Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron.

That leaves him in competition with Efren Navarro, another left-hand-hitting outfielder and first baseman, to be the final reserve among position players.

"He's done really well. I don't know if anyone's had more consistent at-bats than Marc," Scioscia said of Krauss, who, in 18 at-bats, is hitting .500 with a home run and seven runs batted in.

Krauss credited his quick start to a dedicated off-season training program. After being put on waivers twice over the off-season, first by the Houston Astros and then by the Angels, Krauss worked six days a week in a batting cage to rebuild his swing.

"I was trying to break some bad habits. So that's what I needed to do on a daily basis," said Krauss, 27, who hit .200 in 119 games with the Astros over the last two seasons. "It was just me and the tee most of the time."

Navarro is hitting .469 in 32 at-bats, and if he wins that final roster spot, Krauss said he can accept that. Now that he's done all he can do, the decision is out of his hands.

"There's a lot of good players in this clubhouse," he said. "If I was to start in triple A I wouldn't take it the wrong way.

"It's such a long season. There's always going to be some injuries and whatnot. I can help the team at some point if I do my job. If that's to start in triple A, I'll just embrace it, have fun and try to get on a roll playing every day and go from there."

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