C.J. Cron, Grant Green vying for a chance to stay with Angels

C.J. Cron, Grant Green vying for a chance to stay with Angels
Angels second baseman Grant Green makes the throw to first base to complete a double play after forcing out White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez in the fourth inning Friday night in Anaheim. (Victor Decolongon / Getty Images)

Both C.J. Cron and Grant Green were in the Angels' lineup Friday night, Cron at first base and Green at second, giving the on-the-bubble players what seemed like a last chance to impress Manager Mike Scioscia and General Manager Jerry Dipoto before one is sent to triple A.

Scioscia hinted after an 8-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox in Angel Stadium that the much-anticipated move to add a reliever and demote Green or Cron — or, possibly, release struggling designated hitter Raul Ibanez and his .143 average — will probably come Saturday.


"We're evaluating some stuff right now," Scioscia said, when asked whether he was still comfortable carrying a six-man bullpen, as he has for a week. "Some of these guys have been throwing a lot, and we might have to get some coverage."

Green, who singled during a five-run fourth inning and turned two double plays Friday night, is batting .359 in 22 games, and he is far more versatile than Cron, able to play four infield positions and left field.

But Cron, with his power and knack for delivering in the clutch, is the clear front-runner in the race to retain a big league spot.

With two outs, runners on second and third and the Angels leading, 2-1, in the fourth inning Friday, Cron laced a two-run double to left field to give the Angels a 4-1 lead and spark a five-run rally that made it 7-1.

The former University of Utah standout is batting .299 in 28 games, with three homers and 14 runs batted in. He is hitting .444 (12 for 27) with runners in scoring position and .533 (eight for 15) with runners in scoring position and two outs.

It's a small sample size, but as a comparison, Angels slugger Albert Pujols is batting .155 (11 for 71) with runners in scoring position and .138 (four for 29) with runners in scoring position and two outs.

"He's very comfortable in the box — he's certainly not intimidated," Scioscia said of Cron. "He has the confidence that he's going to put the ball in play hard in those situations. With runners in scoring position, he's been doing a great job. … He's certainly earning more at-bats, making the most of his opportunity."

That bodes well for Cron, but not for Green, who, when asked whether he's been playing on pins and needles, said, "A little bit. It's in the back of your mind, of course; everyone wants to be here. But it's something I can't control. When the time comes, if they decide to make a move, they'll make a move."

Before the game, the Angels announced that reliever Sean Burnett underwent elbow reconstruction surgery this week, a procedure that will sideline the veteran left-hander for 12 to 18 months and probably will end his career in Anaheim. Burnett, 31, is in the second year of a two-year, $8-million contract that includes a $4.5-million option for 2015 that the team will buy out for $500,000.

Burnett, who had his first Tommy John surgery in 2004, appeared in only 16 games for the Angels, spending most of his two seasons rehabilitating from elbow injuries and surgery to repair his flexor tendon last August.

He sat out April and most of May. He returned May 23 and appeared in three games, only to tear his ulnar collateral ligament May 27 in Seattle. But Scioscia thinks Burnett will pitch again.

"It seems like Tommy John surgery has become routine, and the results have been great, but on the second one, there's a little more gray area on how he'll react," Scioscia said. "I know he wants to pitch again, and a year from now, he'll get an opportunity to do what he loves to do and something he's very good at."