Mike Scioscia wasn’t one for small talk when third baseman Kyle Kubitza, who was recalled from triple-A Salt Lake, stepped into the manager’s office Tuesday.
“He said, ‘Hello, good job this season.… Have you ever played second base?’ “ Kubitza said.
Kubitza was acquired from Atlanta in the off-season as a potential replacement for David Freese in 2016. But with Kaleb Cowart emerging as a third base candidate and with a possible opening at second base, Kubitza began working out at second Tuesday, learning the finer points of the position from coach Alfredo Griffin.
“It’s going to be a process, but you have to start somewhere,” Scioscia said. “We’ll see where it leads long-term. We still view him as a candidate to be an everyday third baseman, but it’s not going to hurt him to be able to play second.”
Scioscia said Kubitza is not a candidate to play second base this season. Johnny Giavotella played there before being sidelined Aug. 21 because of double vision, and the Angels may want to upgrade next season. Kubitza, 25, hit .271 at triple A and has shown a willingness to adapt, playing some left field this season.
“The hardest thing is I’ve been playing on the left side for so long, to go back to the right side will be a little work,” Kubitza said. “But I feel I can do it.”
The early returns were good.
“He looks great,” Scioscia said. “But all of the things that go into playing second are going to take some time.”
Especially turning a double play. At 6 feet 3 and 210 pounds, Kubitza is longer and thicker than most second basemen, and that could be a challenge on the pivot.
But Kubitza has already secured a position with Licey in the Dominican winter league, and he could play some second base there.
“It’s something you have to work on,” Kubitza said of the double-play pivot. “I have to figure out a way to make it quicker, easier.”
Not in the Cards
The Angels will open the 2016 season at home April 5 against the Chicago Cubs, who are managed by former Angels bench coach Joe Maddon.
In addition to four games against the Dodgers on May 16-19, the Angels will face the National League Central in interleague play, with home series against St. Louis and Cincinnati, and series at Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Chicago.
But for the second consecutive round of play against the NL Central, the Angels won’t travel to St. Louis, denying Albert Pujols the chance to play in the city where he starred from 2001 to 2011. The Angels hosted the Cardinals in 2013.
“I don’t look at the schedule and say, ‘Man, I can’t wait to go back to St. Louis,’ “ Pujols said. “When it comes, it will come at the right time.”
Told it won’t come until 2019, Pujols, who will be in the eighth year of his 10-year deal that season, said, “I may be retired by then.”
Pujols said an MRI test on his right foot revealed inflammation but no structural damage. He is feeling better after taking medication and said it’s possible he could play some first base this weekend. Asked whether the injury affects his hitting, Pujols said, “Yes, but I’m not going to use that as an excuse.” … The nine pitchers the Angels used Monday set a franchise record for a nine-inning game. … In addition to Kubitza, the Angels recalled outfielder Daniel Robertson from triple A.