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Angels

Angels cut Johnny Giavotella and look toward 2017

Angels cut Johnny Giavotella as they look toward 2017
Johnny Giavotella is not on the plans for the future for the Angels, who designated the second baseman for assignment.
(Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

Even with six weeks left in this season, the Angels already are planning for next season. Johnny Giavotella was not in those plans, so the Angels cut him Saturday.

Giavotella, 29, the Angels’ opening-day second baseman this season and last, had one hit in 19 at-bats this month and had not started any of the last five games.

Of the 10 position players the Angels used on opening day, they have removed four from their roster. Giavotella and outfielders Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry were designated for assignment, and catcher Carlos Perez was sent to the minor leagues before returning as a backup.

The Angels recalled infielder Kaleb Cowart from triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday. Manager Mike Scioscia said Cowart, Gregorio Petit and Cliff Pennington would share playing time at second base, as the Angels try to determine whether one of those players, or a combination of them, could suffice at the position next season.

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The three more likely project as bench players, but all can play all over the infield, and Petit has started in the outfield this season as well. With the Angels projecting a young rotation next season, they could need eight relievers, meaning three bench players.

“Our roster is going to have to demand more flexibility,” General Manager Billy Eppler said.

Giavotella won a four-way competition in the spring of 2015 to replace Howie Kendrick as the Angels’ second baseman, and he batted .272, with four home runs and a .318 on-base percentage.

He batted .260 this season, with six home runs. His .287 on-base percentage ranked 86th among the 90 American League players with at least 350 plate appearances, and his defense, while improved, was no better than  average.

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“Johnny for a time was an incredible spark plug for us,” Scioscia said. “But, just being able to play second base, his opportunities started to diminish. Not being versatile, it was going to be tough, especially if we were not going to commit to him to play second base every day.

“We’re going to take a look at a couple different options and hopefully get the production we need, both offensively and defensively, at second base.”

Yunel Escobar is put on the disabled list

The Angels put third baseman Yunel Escobar on the disabled list after he was diagnosed with a concussion. Players on the DL because of a concussion must sit out at least seven days.

Jeffry Marte started at third base Saturday. Petit, Pennington and Cowart also can play the position.

Escobar fouled a ball off his face while bunting in Friday’s game. The ball caromed off his nose and cheek and onto his helmet. Scioscia said no bones were broken.

Escobar is batting .320, second in the AL to Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros. Escobar is batting .416 with runners in scoring position, second in the AL to Coco Crisp of the Oakland Athletics.

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Escobar, the Angels’ leadoff batter, has grounded into a league-high 20 double plays.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin


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