Collin Cowgill edged out J.B. Shuck for a reserve outfield spot, Ian Stewart beat out Grant Green for a backup infield job, and Matt Shoemaker was added to the bullpen as a long reliever, as the Angels made their final cuts and announced their 25-man opening-day roster Saturday night.
The left-handed-hitting Shuck earned several American League rookie-of-the-year votes after hitting .293 with 128 hits in 129 games last season, and he had a solid spring, hitting .281 (16 for 57) with five triples in 21 games through Friday night.
But Cowgill, who hit .260 (13 for 50) with two homers and nine runs batted in this spring, is a slightly better defender than Shuck, he can play all three outfield positions, and his right-handed bat is a better complement to left-handed-hitting corner outfielders Kole Calhoun and Josh Hamilton.
“A tough one, about as tough as it gets,” Manager Mike Scioscia said of the decision to demote Shuck. “He had a great year last year and a great spring, but he wasn’t going to get many at-bats unless someone went down. If someone does get hurt, he’ll be right back up here.”
Stewart, who can play third base, second base and first base, probably benefited from the fact that he hits left-handed, making him a better complement to right-handed-hitting third baseman David Freese and second baseman Howie Kendrick.
But the former Westminster La Quinta High School star, who signed a minor league contract with the Angels in January, also improved steadily throughout a spring in which he hit .298 (14 for 47) with three homers and six RBIs.
The right-handed-hitting Green hit .340 (18 for 53) with one homer and 11 RBIs in 22 games, but his limited experience at third base and shortstop — and the addition of slick-fielding utility infielder John McDonald on the team — decreased his odds of opening the season in the big leagues.
Shoemaker, who went 1-1 with a 3.09 earned-run average, 12 strikeouts and one walk in 11 2/3 innings this spring, will serve a long-relief role, but the right-hander is expected to return to triple-A Salt Lake, where he will start, when reliever Dane De La Rosa (forearm strain) comes off the disabled list.
“He has the potential to give us functional length,” Scioscia said of Shoemaker, who has only five inning of big-league experience. “Like on a game like tonight, where we have a lead and our starter is struggling, he can throw multiple innings and bridge the gap to our back-end guys.”
As expected, left-handers Sean Burnett, who has been slow to recover from elbow surgery, and Brian Moran (sore elbow) will open the season on the DL. Veteran right-hander Brandon Lyon, who had a 4.50 ERA in eight spring innings, accepted an assignment with triple-A Salt Lake.
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