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Angels second base job still belongs to Johnny Giavotella

Angels second base job still belongs to Johnny Giavotella
Angels second baseman Johnny Giavotella fields a ground ball during the first inning against the White Sox. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Even though he has been the Angels' starter at second base for the entire season, Johnny Giavotella has said he still checks the lineup card with interest before each game. His time with the Kansas City Royals taught him that playing time is tenuous, that a spot is never secure.

When Giavotella checked Wednesday, his name was atop the order, which, given the day's events, was not always a lock.

The Angels had been linked to second baseman Chase Utley since he cleared waivers more than a week ago. In fact, the Angels had been chasing Utley even before the season began, according to a person familiar with trade talks but not authorized to speak publicly about them.

Reports surfaced early Wednesday that a trade was imminent, but ultimately, the destination was the Dodgers. Giavotella's starting role was secure.

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia acknowledged that the Angels had engaged in talks with the Phillies but did not say how close they came to acquiring Utley.

"I know that he's been talked about a lot, in a lot of rumors and a lot of teams," Scioscia said. "What is close? We really don't know."

Offensively, Giavotella has been a steady force, batting .267 with three home runs and 40 RBIs, and he has been particularly reliable in the clutch. He has hit .371 in late and close situations. On Wednesday, he was hitless in three at bats.

Lately, however, Giavotella's glove has become a liability. After Monday's game, Scioscia grumbled about the Angels' fielding, and called Giavotella a work in progress. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Giavotella was pulled in the late innings for Ryan Jackson. That strategy, Scioscia said, could continue.

"If we have a premium glove like Ryan Jackson and can upgrade at whatever positions it might be, whether it's third or second, we'll try to use it," Scioscia said.

He added: "I think a player can be playing at a level you expect and you're satisfied with it, and if somebody's going to bring a different dimension, you're going to consider it anyway. So it's not really a slight on Johnny. It's confidence in the guy you're putting in there."

Short hops

Right-hander Nick Tropeano will start Thursday for the Angels as right-hander Matt Shoemaker works through struggles in the minors. … Third baseman David Freese threw with his injured index finger Wednesday for the first time since his injury.

zach.helfand@latimes.com

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