GOODYEAR, Ariz. — It's not that Grant Green was rooting for second baseman Howie Kendrick to be traded over the off-season, but he wouldn't have been terribly disappointed if one of the many rumors involving Kendrick came true.
"Yeah, it would have been good for me, but I enjoy having Howie here," Green said. "Does it hinder my playing time at second base? Of course. But he's helped me with everything I've asked. I can't imagine having a better guy here than him."
Green, the former USC shortstop who was acquired in July from Oakland for Alberto Callaspo, filled in for the injured Kendrick in August and September and hit .250 in 40 games.
But with Kendrick and shortstop Erick Aybar returning and the Angels acquiring third baseman David Freese from St. Louis, Green's only shot of making the team is to beat out John McDonald and Andrew Romine for a utility infield job.
Which is why Green, 26, has played more innings at shortstop (12) and third base (11) this spring than he has at second base (72/3 ). He started at third in the Angels' 8-3 exhibition victory over the Cleveland Indians on Monday at Goodyear Ballpark.
Green looked good at shortstop Saturday, handling five grounders flawlessly. But he did not get a chance Monday at third base, a position he has played sparingly but is working extensively at this spring.
"I'm getting used to the view off the bat, and the throw across the diamond is a different angle," Green said. "It's more of a reaction position, but as long as you get in a good ready step, you're going to be fine."
McDonald is clearly the best defender of the utility candidates, but if the Angels prefer more of an offensive threat in that spot, Green would have a clear edge. He doubled and singled in four at-bats Monday and is hitting .429 (nine for 21) with five doubles and three runs batted in.
"The first thing for anyone in that job is the ability to play shortstop and bring some versatility," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Once guys show that, you can look at offense to see if there's a plus or minus there. Grant can generate bat speed and leverage the ball well, and he's looking strong on the left side of the infield."
It wasn't a "full-gorilla" bullpen session, as Scioscia likes to say, but Sean Burnett threw 30 pitches off the slope of a mound Sunday, a workout the left-hander called "a positive step."
Burnett was limited by elbow injuries to 13 appearances in 2013 and had surgery for a small tear in August. With so many powerful left-handed bats in the American League West, a healthy Burnett would be a huge boost to the bullpen.
"It was good considering it had been about seven months since I threw off a mound," Burnett said. "I had some fatigue at the end, but the big thing is coming in [Monday] and feeling good. I played catch for half an hour and feel loose."
Scioscia expects Burnett to progress to a true bullpen workout, in which he throws from the rubber, within a week. It's doubtful Burnett will be ready for the season opener, but he could return in early April.
"My job is to get ready and make it a tough decision for them," Burnett said. "At the same time, I'm going to be conservative enough to know it's my body. I don't want to push it too much. But I did push it a bit [Sunday] and got good results."
The Angels optioned pitcher Michael Roth to triple A and reassigned pitchers Jarrett Grube, Michael Morin, Mark Sappington and Justin Thomas to minor league camp.
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