Angels set roster for opening day

Angels set their opening day roster with four new arms, two lefties and two righties, in the bullpen

The Angels finalized their opening day roster after Saturday’s final spring training exhibition at Dodger Stadium, awarding bullpen spots to left-handers Jose Alvarez and Cesar Ramos as well as right-handers Vinnie Pestano and Drew Rucinski.

First baseman/outfielder Efren Navarro and infielder Taylor Featherston, a Rule 5 selection, also made the team as bench players.

To get down to the 25-man roster limit, the Angels also placed four players -- outfielder Josh Hamilton, right-handers Cory Rasmus and Garrett Richards as well as left-hander Tyler Skaggs -- on the 15-day disabled list. Catcher Carlos Perez and outfielder Daniel Robertson were optioned to triple-A Salt Lake while right-hander Ryan Mattheus was reassigned to minor league camp.

“Right now, where we are, this roster has some versatility that will help us,” Manager Mike Scioscia said of the team that was left. “There’s a lot of youth in it. Probably a little bit of experience. But for most part, we had some tough cuts to make the last couple of days. And it shows some of the depth we’ve established.”

The Angels open the season Monday in Seattle with Jered Weaver starting against the MarinersFelix Hernandez. The Angels’ home opener is April 11 against the Kansas City Royals, who eliminated the Angels from the American League playoffs last fall on their way to the World Series.

Scioscia is especially pleased with his bullpen. Last season, Angel relievers combined to pitch more innings than any other big-league bullpen. This year’s bullpen has a nice match of left-handers and right-handers, with some pitchers who can eat innings, if needed.

“Our bullpen right now lines up as well as we’ve had here in a long time as far as starting the season,” Scioscia said. “And the middle of our lineup is getting a little more balanced as we move forward. There are some nice matchups we can get into to get good lineups out there.”

None of Saturday’s moves were really surprising; the drama came Friday when infielders Josh Rutledge, Grant Green, Kyle Kubitza and left-hander Andrew Heaney were optioned to triple-A Salt Lake.

The Angels also reassigned outfielder/first baseman Mark Krauss and left-handed reliever Scott Snodgress to the minor leagues Friday.

For Krauss, who spent the last two seasons with the Houston Astros, the demotion was disappointing but not surprising.

“It’s not that I didn’t perform,” Krauss, who batted .367 in spring training, said Saturday. “I just have to go down there and do the best I can.”

The Angels’ decision to send down Rutledge and Green ended a four-man battle for the vacant second-base job, which will go to Johnny Giavotella. Featherston will be the backup.

“Josh is a much better player than he showed this spring,” Scioscia said of Rutledge, who hit .189 with 14 strikeouts in 53 spring at-bats. “We know that, and we have a lot of confidence he’s going to get back to where he needs to be. He just needs at-bats. He never got on track. He never felt comfortable in the batter’s box from the get-go.”

“As we start the season, the best course of action with Josh is to let him find his swing, because when he does, he can hit.”

Heaney is another player the Angels expect to see in Anaheim before long. The team will need a fifth starter next week, making Heaney a leading candidate for an early call-up -- although Scioscia said Saturday that long reliever Drew Rucinski could also make that start.

“I want to show these guys what I can do, whether I’m on the team or not,” Heaney said after holding the Dodgers without a hit for 5 1/3 innings Friday in his final start before leaving for the minors. “Yeah, I’d love to make the team. That’s everybody’s goal. But I know if I can go out there and do what I did [Friday] and build on that, I’ll be here eventually. I fully believe in myself.”

Acquired from Miami via the Dodgers for second baseman Howie Kendrick in December, Heaney closed the spring with a 1-2 record and 7.03 earned-run average.

The Angels' opening day roster:

Pitchers (12): LH Jose Alvarez, RH Mike Morin, RH Vinnie Pestano, LH Cesar Ramos, RH Drew Rucinski, RH Fernando Salas, LH Hector Santiago, RH Matt Shoemaker, RH Joe Smith, RH Huston Street, RH Jered Weaver, LH C.J. Wilson

Catchers (2): Drew Butera, Chris Iannetta

Infielders (7): Erick Aybar, C.J. Cron, Taylor Featherston, David Freese, Johnny Giavotella, Efren Navarro, Albert Pujols

Outfielders (4): Kole Calhoun, Collin Cowgill, Matt Joyce, Mike Trout.

Times staff writer Mike Digiovanna contributed to this story.

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