TEMPE, Ariz. -- Two days into Spring Training, Angels manager Mike Scioscia likes the feel of camp. There are at least 35 legitimate candidates for 25 roster spots, which should amp up the intensity level as Cactus League play arrives on Feb. 26.
"There are definitely some spots on our roster guys are competing for, and also some spots for playing time guys are competing for," Scioscia said. "That's great for a team. Competition might not be the best for some players, but it's healthy for a team.
"Playing time at third base is something that's going to be real, to fight for that. I definitely think there are going to be some utility roles on the bench guys will be fighting for. On the pitching side, same way.
"It's a good sign. On our depth chart in some areas last year, we were a little thin. In some areas, we're really strong. We've got some good young arms there."
Nowhere does the competition appear heavier than in the bullpen. The club has as many as a dozen legitimate candidates for six or seven relief roles, having added veteran left-handers Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi to the mix along with Fernando Rodney, Jason Bulger, Kevin Jepsen, Michael Kohn, Jordan Walden, Matt Palmer, Rich Thompson, Trevor Bell, Francisco Rodriguez and Bobby Cassevah.
New dad Bulger expects a rebound season
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jan. 11, 2011, was the happiest day of Jason Bulger's life. Every day since wife Janice presented him with baby Brenden has been filled with magic.
"It's the biggest joy in my life, without a doubt," Bulger said on Tuesday as he settled into Angels camp, looking to reclaim his place as a durable reliever. "I've had a lot of fun on the mound and in baseball, but it doesn't compare with having a baby. It's a life-changer."
Bulger, on the professional side, feels reborn after a season spent struggling with shoulder issues limiting him to 25 appearances and a 4.88 ERA. The 6-foot-4 right-hander with the booming fastball and soft voice was a pillar in 2009, appearing in 64 games with a 6-1 record and 3.56 ERA.
"I'm full go," Bulger said. "I've been [throwing] off the mound, letting it go. I'm not having any problems. I'm familiar with rotator cuff pain -- I went through that four years ago. Rest is the biggest thing. I hurt the shoulder at the end of May, came back to pitch the last month and then took a month off. I did my exercises and started throwing again, and I'm feeling great.
"I think I can do even better than . Towards the end of that season, I was starting to pitch to my potential. There's a lot of competition here, a lot of great arms. But I feel good if I can pitch to my ability."
Slimmer Wilson ready for increased role
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Nobody in Angels camp is getting more second -- and third -- looks than catcher Bobby Wilson. Eliminating 33 pounds will do that.
Wilson, who finished last season at 243 pounds, arrived to camp at 210. His new bride, Lori, who became Mrs. Wilson on Dec. 4, is partly, perhaps primarily, responsible for the chiseled new frame.
"I wanted to look good in the wedding pictures," Wilson said, tongue in cheek.
Truth is, he shed the pounds with diet and exercise at home in Florida to become quicker and more athletic behind the plate. He's ticketed as the No. 2 receiver, behind Jeff Mathis, with their good buddy Mike Napoli now flexing his muscles for Texas. Wilson appeared in 40 games last season, batting .229 and handling the staff expertly, and easily could double that number this year.
"I feel like I can move around a little better," Wilson said. "It's exciting, very exciting. I did a lot of strength and conditioning work and ate five times a day, a lot of chicken, fruits and vegetables."
The wedding photos turned out just fine as the couple headed to the Cayman Islands for their honeymoon.
Scioscia is pleased with what he's seen of Scott Kazmir, who spent the winter working out in Arizona rather than his home in Houston, after a disappointing 2010 season. "I don't know if conditioning is the right word," Scisocia said, referring to Kazmir's program. "His strength component a pitcher needs, I think he's more in tune with that -- shoulder strength, elbow, core strength. Hopefully, he can make pitches with less effort to help his command. For him to pitch the way he did at the end of '09, we can see that happening. It's a short bridge we can get back to." ... Scioscia reiterated that Rodney will get first crack at the closer's role, but "there are a lot of options at the back end of the bullpen." ... Kendry Morales said on the addition of Vernon Wells: "He's going to be a big help, not only in the lineup, but also having experience and being able to share it with the young guys on the club. He can really help them out." ... Position players report on Friday, with the first full workout on Saturday.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.