He was a reliever trapped inside a starter’s regimen.
So, when the Oakland Athletics suggested to Ian Krol that he move to the bullpen, the left-hander needed no convincing.
“The whole starter program didn’t work out too well for me,” Krol said. “I don’t plan my days out very well, just kind of ‘Give me the ball and let’s go,’ you know?”
That was back in the minors, after a torn flexor tendon impeded Krol’s progress as a starter. The shift to reliever resulted in an increase in the velocity — on his fastball and his path to the big leagues.
“It’s worked out a lot better,” Krol said. “My character on the mound definitely shows as more reliever than starter.”
Over the last five seasons, he has appeared in 224 games for three teams. Krol, 26, signed a minor league deal with the Angels in February and was invited to spring training.
He isn’t likely to be on the opening-day roster, the Angels figuring to go with Jose Alvarez as their lone left-hander in the bullpen. Last year, Alvarez made 64 of the 67 left-handed relief appearances for this team.
Their job is one of the stranger ones in baseball, a mix of an often light workload staged under typically heavy circumstances. Left-handed specialists normally face only a batter or two but do so when games are tight.
“You just don’t try to make the situation too big,” Krol said. “Don’t let it get out of hand.”
Even though he’s facing a challenge in trying to make the roster, predicting how a baseball season will unfold is a slippery venture. And Krol is not unfamiliar with battling for whatever he can get.
“I’ve always been fighting for a spot,” he said. “I’m not trying to beat out anybody. I’m not trying to have all this competition. I’m just trying to do what I can do and see how things work out.”
Krol can opt out of his deal May 1 and also June 1 and become a free agent if he remains in the minors and is dissatisfied with his situation.
Mike Trout is pulling for Shohei Ohtani
He is generally recognized as the best player in baseball and, as such, Mike Trout often is the target of national attention when it falls upon the Angels.
As for the international eyes on this team, however, Shohei Ohtani is the one being poked, prodded and picked apart with each swing and pitch, practice or otherwise.
“It’s going to be challenging for him,” Trout said. “It’s going to be a grind. It’s something he’s going to have to embrace. He’s handling it great so far. All the guys in here [the clubhouse] are here to support him.”
In his fourth game of the spring as a designated hitter, Ohtani was 0 for 2, both strikeouts, with a walk in the Angels’ 5-4 loss to Arizona on Tuesday. He is one for nine with three walks.
“I still feel like my timing’s not fully there yet,” he said. “It’s getting better each time I go out there. At this pace, I think I’ll be fine by the season opener.”
Ohtani has a bullpen session scheduled for Wednesday, but manager Mike Scioscia said he could bat later in the day when the Angels host the Dodgers.
Upon his arrival at camp, Ohtani did daily sessions with the media, not speaking only on the days before he pitched.
The Angels have since attempted to lessen the load on a 23-year-old adjusting to a new country and a new league while attempting to make baseball history as a pitcher and hitter — as a rookie.
He did not address reporters en masse after leaving the game Monday. Instead, the Angels had a team employee ask him media-submitted questions and then made the answers available.
“Even if he just practices he’s being asked a lot of questions,” Trout said. “He does a great job of blocking it all out when we’re playing. He handles all that off-the-field stuff well.”
Nick Tropeano will make his next start Wednesday morning in a “B” game in Scottsdale. … Pitcher Dayan Diaz, claimed off waivers from Houston in September, still has not reported to camp because of apparent visa issues. A Colombian, Diaz, 29, appeared in 10 games with the Astros last season. … Outfielder Chris Young (calf) is “getting close,” Scioscia said. He took batting practice Tuesday.