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New Angels GM Billy Eppler and Manager Mike Scioscia appear to be on the same page

General Manager Billy Eppler, right, greets Manager Mike Scioscia after a news conference announcing Eppler as the Angels new GM at Angel Stadium.

General Manager Billy Eppler, right, greets Manager Mike Scioscia after a news conference announcing Eppler as the Angels new GM at Angel Stadium.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Billy Eppler rose through the New York Yankees front office as the reign of tempestuous owner George Steinbrenner wound down. He was no stranger to the clash of egos, personalities and opinions that can often strain an organization.

So he wasn’t about to be intimidated by the turmoil that preceded him in Anaheim when he took the Angels general manager job in early October.

Jerry Dipoto resigned as GM on July 1 amid renewed friction with Manager Mike Scioscia, a dispute many characterized as a “power struggle” between an analytics-minded executive and a rigid old-school manager.

Three months later, with Scioscia the clear victor and still firmly in place as baseball’s longest-tenured field boss, Eppler stepped into the fray with no fear or trepidation. His approach wasn’t to “fix” something that was broken. It was to be himself.

“Walking in the door, it’s a clean slate, so I wanted to see how people work, how people think,” Eppler said last week at the winter meetings. “I wanted our relationship to be really transparent, where we lay all the cards out on the table and have that kind of dialogue together. . . .

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“If there’s anything that people are carrying with them [from the previous regime], it’s not something I need to be involved with. I don’t need to play therapist or counselor.”

Those are the roles owner Arte Moreno and team President John Carpino played when Dipoto and Scioscia clashed, first over the GM’s firing of hitting coach Mickey Hatcher in May 2012 and later over Scioscia’s resistance to conveying to the players scouting and statistical information provided by the front office.

There were other disputes between Scioscia and Dipoto, often over roster composition, and Scioscia and former assistant GM Scott Servais didn’t always agree on how minor league players should be developed.

When rumors persisted at the end of 2012 that Scioscia, Dipoto or both would be fired, Moreno resolved the tension by retaining both and essentially forcing them to work together.

They seemed to work out their differences in 2014, when the Angels had a major league-best 98-64 record, but the relationship deteriorated this summer to the point where it was beyond repair. Dipoto is now Seattle’s GM, and Servais is the Mariners’ manager.

Scioscia and Eppler appear to have the beginnings of a more harmonious relationship. The two have spoken in person or by phone — usually during Eppler’s long morning commute from Laguna Beach to Anaheim — almost every day since Eppler got the job, and a mutual respect seems to be developing.

“He’s so easy to talk to — he’s a great communicator,” Scioscia said of Eppler. “He’s one of those guys who has that 25th hour in the day. I don’t know where he gets his time and energy.

“He’s very, very diligent. I think he understands the process of team building, not only the team on the field but behind the scenes. And I think he’s getting guys around him that he’s very comfortable with, guys who are going to make good decisions and evaluations to get us where we need to be.”

Scioscia did not go into detail when asked how his relationship with Eppler compares to the one he had with Dipoto.

“Every relationship is different, but from my aspect, there’s not much difference,” Scioscia said. “When you’re asked for your opinion, you give it.”

Scioscia clearly approved Eppler’s hiring of two coaches from Scioscia’s original staff, former Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke as third-base coach and former San Diego Padres manager Bud Black as a special assistant to the GM.

Eppler also brought in two former Yankees colleagues, Steve Martone as assistant GM and Eric Chavez, the former Oakland Athletics third baseman, as a special assistant. Former A’s infielder Mike Gallego was hired as director of baseball development.

“These guys who have been brought on board understand the need for the major leagues and the minor leagues to be on the same page and communicate,” Scioscia said. “They also understand the vision we have for how we want to play the game.”

A hallmark of Scioscia’s six playoff teams from 2002 to 2009 was strong pitching and defense and an offense that relied as much on consistent contact, situational hitting and aggressive baserunning as it did on power.

Eppler’s acquisition of third baseman Yunel Escobar, who has a career .350 on-base percentage and rarely strikes out, from Washington last week was part of an attempt to mold the Angels in Scioscia’s image.

Eppler is also trying to add a left fielder with a higher OBP — free agents Alex Gordon and Justin Upton fit the profile — upgrade defensively at second base and add a left-handed bat or two to a primarily right-handed-hitting lineup.

Though Scioscia expects some disagreements with Eppler on certain players, a GM-manager relationship built on trust and mutual respect should make for smoother, cleaner decision-making.

“Billy has had a tall order since he came on board, evaluating the team and staff, and he’s asked for a lot of input,” Scioscia said. “It’s been good. . . .

“Communication is important, especially right now, with so much going on. We’re going to speak every day. Whether it’s a text message or a conversation, the communication has to be there, and it has.”

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

Twitter: @MikeDiGiovanna


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