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Rotation questions could force Angels to open with eight-man bullpen

Rotation questions could force Angels to open with eight-man bullpen
Veteran right-hander Joe Blanton is not expected to win a spot in the Angels' rotation but could provide depth in case of injury. (Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday that the Angels could open the season with eight relief pitchers, an acknowledgement that a youth-filled rotation may not be able to pitch as deep into games as the team would like.

Jered Weaver, who has thrown 200 innings or more in three of the past five seasons, is an established ace, and C.J. Wilson, who surpassed the 200-inning mark in each of the past four seasons, is a solid No. 2 starter.

But none of the other three projected starters — Garrett Richards, 25, Hector Santiago, 26, and Tyler Skaggs, 22 — has thrown more than 158 innings in any of the past three seasons.

"With our young guys, you're going to need to hold some leads earlier in games when pitch counts are getting away from some guys," Scioscia said. "The season is still three weeks away, and a lot can happen. What the numbers and makeup of the bullpen are, we don't know."

Carrying an extra reliever and a five-man rotation would limit the Angels to a three-man bench consisting of a backup catcher, utility infielder and outfielder. But it would probably allow the Angels to retain veteran right-hander Joe Blanton, who is not expected to win a rotation spot but could provide depth in case of injury.

Blanton went 2-14 with a 6.04 earned run average last season and is guaranteed $8.5 million this season. If he doesn’t make the team and the Angels are unable to trade him, he would most likely be released, leaving the Angels with Matt Shoemaker and Wade LeBlanc as their top minor league rotation options.

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