PHOENIX — The Angels and Milwaukee Brewers did not use instant replay in Saturday’s exhibition game in Maryvale Park, but Joe Blanton did, which is not necessarily a good thing for the veteran right-hander.
Blanton, in what may have been his last chance to win a spot on the Angels’ pitching staff, was tagged for four earned runs and six hits, including a home run, in 41/3 innings, striking out three and walking four, a near carbon copy of many of his starts from 2013, when he went 2-14 with a 6.04 earned-run average.
“It was a rough start,” said Blanton, who also hit a batter and threw a wild pitch. “Since moving to the third-base side” of the rubber, “it’s the first time I’ve really had to make adjustments during the game, so it took me a little bit to figure out. I started to feel a little better as the game went on.”
Soon, the Angels will have to figure out what to do with Blanton, who is guaranteed $8.5 million but is not expected to win a rotation spot and does not appear to be a great fit for the bullpen.
The Angels were hoping Blanton would pitch well enough to attract some trade interest from a team willing to absorb some of his salary, but that appears doubtful; Blanton has a 7.08 ERA in 20 1/3 spring innings and could be released.
“Whatever happens, happens — there’s nothing I can do about it,” said Blanton, who looked sharp in his last 15 or so pitches Saturday, retiring the last four batters he faced. “All I can do is pitch and try to make the adjustments in-game and keep working hard and doing what I have to do.”
Yorvit Torrealba’s days with the Angels appear numbered. The veteran catcher is not expected to make the team, and he fully intends to exercise an opt-out clause in his minor league contract if he is not added to the 40-man roster by Sunday.
“Right now, there is zero chance I’ll be playing triple A,” Torrealba, 35, said. “I’ll look for a spot somewhere else. If nothing happens, I’ll go home and spend time with the family. I don’t want to say ‘retirement.’ I want to keep the door open.”
Torrealba, a 12-year veteran, has appeared in 12 spring games but has not started behind the plate. He’s batting .278. First baseman Carlos Pena and infielder Chad Tracy can also opt out of their deals Sunday.
Pena struck out and grounded out Saturday and is hitting .139 with 14 strikeouts in 36 at-bats. Tracy lined a three-run homer to right field off Milwaukee reliever Francisco Rodriguez in the seventh inning, singled in the eighth and is batting .303 (10 for 33).
“I’m not going to say whether I’m going to walk or not — that’s not fair to these guys,” Tracy said. “I’ll figure it out when the time comes.”
Reliever Sean Burnett said the discomfort that forced him to be shut down during Friday’s bullpen session was minor and unrelated to the elbow surgery that ended his season last August.
“I had a little reaction from an injection I had a week ago,” said Burnett, who was limited by elbow problems to 13 appearances last season. “It felt a little cranky, but it was nothing too serious. I’ll give it a day or two and get back out there.”
Burnett, a left-hander who will open the season on the disabled list, said he receives monthly injections of a lubricant to treat arthritis. This was his first of this spring, and it caused soreness on the outside of his forearm, not the inside, where he suffered a partial tear in 2013.
On the mend
Right-hander Dane De La Rosa, who went 6-1 with a 2.86 ERA in a team-high 75 appearances last season, threw his first bullpen session — about 30 pitches — since suffering a forearm strain March 6.
“It went excellent,” De La Rosa said. “I threw everything and felt good.”
De La Rosa said he would need one exhibition game appearance to be ready for the March 31 season opener, but it appears more probable that he opens the season on the DL.
“He will need a little more work,” said Manager Mike Scioscia.