ANAHEIM -- Starter Ervin Santana recently asked the Angels for permission to pitch for the Licey Tigers of the Dominican Winter League, but they declined, general manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed.
The reason is simple: The Angels don't think it's a good idea for a starter they're going to rely on for 200-plus innings to crank it up for a one-month stretch in January, then shut it down and start back up again in Spring Training shortly thereafter.
Shortstop Erick Aybar, who's arbitration-eligible and also an contract-extension candidate, was allowed to play for Licey when he asked at about the same time. But in this case, a starting pitcher and a position player are "a different animal," Dipoto said, adding that the decision to keep Santana from winter ball was in no way health related.
"From Ervin's perspective, and quite frankly if Dan Haren or Jered Weaver or C.J. Wilson want to play winter ball, that would be an easy no-brainer [to say no]," Dipoto explained. "But in Erick's case, this is him tuning up. He's going to play maybe three times a week, and get himself in game shape and get himself ready. It's not as taxing on him and doesn't put us in a bad situation."
The Dominican Winter League is currently in its 18-game round-robin playoff stage, which includes the top four out of six teams and lasts until the end of January. The top two clubs in those standings will then play a best-of-nine series for a national title, with the league's champion advancing to the Caribbean Series to play against representatives from Mexico, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. That lasts from Feb. 2-8.
Infielder Alberto Callaspo and right-hander Jerome Williams previously suited up for the Navegantes del Magallanes of the Venezuelan Winter League. Callaspo batted .308, with 10 RBIs in 13 games, and hasn't played since the New Year. Williams, a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation, went 5-0 with a 1.00 ERA in six starts (a span of 36 innings) and didn't pitch past Nov. 13.
"As a general rule," Dipoto said, "I'm a big advocate of winter ball and believe it's a good thing for players. ... But sometimes you have to be smart enough to understand that cranking a pitcher up in early-to-mid January and then shutting him down and then cranking him up again is probably not the best way to make sure that pitcher stays healthy."
Dipoto has a look at recovering Morales
While in Arizona, general manager Jerry Dipoto was able to get an up-close look at recovering first baseman Kendrys Morales, who has missed the last 1 1/2 seasons with a broken left ankle. Morales was recently cleared to run on his own weight and ramp up baseball activities.
Morales is working out on his own, swinging in the cages and throwing. On Monday, Dipoto expects him to do live batting practice for the first time.
"We're looking forward to that," said Dipoto, who took part in some organizational meetings earlier in the week. "But, again, no timeline, nothing over the top. Kendrys looks good, all signs are positive, and we're in the same boat -- cautiously optimistic. But we're not putting any undue expectations on him."
Callaspo, Aybar file for arbitration
ANAHEIM -- Infielders Alberto Callaspo and Erick Aybar were two of 142 Major Leaguers who filed for salary arbitration on Friday.
That doesn't particularly mean they'll actually go to an arbitration hearing, however. Teams can negotiate with their arbitration-eligible players up until the date of their scheduled hearings, which usually fall at some point in February.
Callaspo is two years removed from free agency, and is estimated to receive roughly $3 million if his case goes to arbitration. Aybar will be a free agent after the upcoming season, and the Angels have begun extension talks with the shortstop, who could garner something close to the four-year, $33.5 million deal Howie Kendrick recently signed.
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto declined comment when asked about those negotiations.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.