Sports

Angels trade big-name minor leaguers: Matt Scioscia for Trevor Gretzky

SURPRISE, Ariz. — For Mike Scioscia, one question was enough.

The Angels had just traded his son, in a headline-grabbing deal. They sent Matt Scioscia to the Chicago Cubs for Trevor Gretzky, son of Wayne Gretzky, the greatest player in hockey history.

Scioscia offered a brief reaction to the trade on Thursday, after the Angels' 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

"It's part of baseball," Scioscia said. "It's a good opportunity for Matt."

Scioscia cut off a follow-up question, about whether General Manager Jerry Dipoto had discussed the trade with the manager or simply informed him after its completion.

"Let's talk about our game," Scioscia said. "I just gave you a quote. We're good."

If not for the last names, the trade of low-level minor leaguers would scarcely have attracted attention. Neither Gretzky, an outfielder from Oaks Christian High, nor Scioscia, a first baseman from Encino Crespi High, has advanced past the Class A level. Neither is ranked by Baseball America among his team's top 30 prospects.

"We had an opportunity for Gretzky. They had an opportunity for Matt," Dipoto said. "Pretty simple."

Matt Scioscia, 25, was the Angels' 45th-round draft pick in 2011, out of Notre Dame. He batted .194 with no home runs in 40 games last season.

Gretzky, 21, was the Cubs' seventh-round pick in 2011; the Cubs spent $375,000 to buy him out of a scholarship to San Diego State. He hit .274 with one home run in 41 games last season.

In tandem

Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit home runs in the same game three times last year. The Angels won all three.

So it was little wonder the Angels were encouraged on Thursday. Trout hit his second home run in two days, a monster shot to dead center. Pujols hit his first home run of the spring, and his third extra-base hit in two days.

"I think you guys are seeing a pretty healthy Albert out there," pitcher Jered Weaver said. "It's fun to see. He looks very comfortable. It's night and day from last year."

Pujols, who was limited to a career-low 99 games because of injury last season, hit a career-low 17 home runs. He has hit at least 30 in each of his other 11 seasons.

Opening up

Weaver is in line to start on opening day, which would make him the first pitcher in club history to start six openers.

On Thursday, he gave up two runs and three hits in 51/3 innings, with no walks and five strikeouts. He said he is "getting it geared up for opening day" and might make his last remaining spring start in a minor league exhibition game, where he can better control how many innings he throws and how many pitches he makes.

Scioscia routinely declines to announce his opening day starter until spring training is all but done, so Weaver later amended his comment to say "opening day or whenever."

Hamilton in flux

Josh Hamilton batted fifth Thursday, against a left-hander. In the regular season, that is where Hamilton might be in the lineup when the Angels face left-handers. He otherwise bats cleanup.

"We'll work around the middle of our order until it gets settled," Scioscia said.

Hamilton, whom the Angels are paying $125 million, batted .201 with a .596 OPS against left-handers last season, and .272 with an .802 OPS against right-handers.

David Freese, who batted .275 with an .811 OPS against left-handers last season, batted cleanup for the Angels on Thursday.

Scioscia said he could "mix and match" Hamilton, Freese, Raul Ibanez and Howie Kendrick in the middle of the lineup, behind Trout and Pujols. Scioscia did not rule out Hamilton as the Angels' full-time cleanup hitter.

"When Josh is right, there's no doubt he can hit lefties also," Scioscia said.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

Twitter: @BillShaikin

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