TEMPE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Jerome Williams has been perceived as the odds-on favorite for the fifth spot in the Angels' vaunted rotation. But for now, manager Mike Scioscia will call it an "open competition."
Along with Williams, who's out of options, the Angels will also have budding prospect Garrett Richards vying for a spot alongside Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson and Ervin Santana. Richards, 23, posted a 5.79 ERA in 14 Major League innings last year, but has an electric arm and went 12-2 with a 3.15 ERA in Double-A.
There's also Trevor Bell, who made 19 relief appearances in 2011, and lefty Brad Mills, who came over from the Blue Jays in the Jeff Mathis trade. Both have an option year left. Then, there's Eric Hurley and Matt Shoemaker, signed to Minor League deals this offseason.
Williams, the 30-year-old right-hander who went 4-0 with a 3.68 ERA through 44 innings toward the end of 2011, is probably the top choice for that fifth spot heading into camp.
But there's no point to declaring that on Day 1.
"There's hopefully going to be a depth chart that's going to be very tangible when we get to the end of Spring Training," Scioscia said. "Right now, there's no sense ranking them, because you never know what Spring Training brings."
Kendrys confident things are different this year
TEMPE, Ariz. -- And so it begins again with the Angels and recovering slugger Kendrys Morales.
On Sunday, the day pitchers and catchers -- and injured players, like Morales and Mark Trumbo -- reported to the club's Spring Training facility, Morales was cleared by doctors to begin running outside, yet another step in a process the Angels hope will eventually get him sprinting full speed around the bases.
That, of course, was a hurdle Morales couldn't clear last spring, instead undergoing a second surgery on his broken left ankle in late May.
But this year, he believes, it's different.
"It's very different," Morales said in Spanish. "I feel a lot better. More strength in the ankle and everything. Everything feels better."
Morales has spent the majority of his offseason in Tempe, hitting from both sides of the plate, running on an anti-gravity treadmill and throwing. Now, come Monday, Morales will be sprinting lightly in the Tempe Diablo Stadium outfield.
Unlike last year, he doesn't believe next-day swelling will keep him from progressing.
"I've worked out hard every day, and I haven't had any swelling," Morales said. "There's no reason why it should swell up now. Everything's good now."
Those who have watched Morales closely have been impressed by the switch-hitter's recovery, particularly the hitting displays he has put on in batting practice. The big difference this year, manager Mike Scioscia stated, is that Morales doesn't really have to worry about playing first base, now that Albert Pujols is on board.
Scioscia may not want Morales to lose touch with the position, but he really only needs his bat at designated hitter -- and potentially cleanup.
"If he just had to swing the bat last spring for us, and not run, he had no problems swinging the bat. None," said Scioscia, who has only seen tape of Morales up to this point. "The other parts and components that you need to play the game, obviously, fell through as he tried to get in shape to run. So, I think we're more optimistic that he can reach a level to fill the need that we have on our team, as far as swinging -- especially from the left side -- and being a presence behind Albert. And without that pressure of having to play first base ... it's attainable, I think it is."
As has been the case all offseason -- and, to some extent, last spring -- the Angels have a very cautiously optimistic approach with regards to Morales' recovery. It's not just running full speed and cutting around the bases that he needs to do. It's doing that on an everyday basis with no after-effects, while getting his legs in shape and, of course, re-adjusting to Major League pitching.
It's early, but Morales is confident.
"This year, I've felt a lot better compared to last year," he said. "I can do any exercises that they give me. Very different from last year. I think for the start [of the season], I should be ready."
Trumbo doing light work during recovery
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Mark Trumbo's next target date: Feb. 28.
That's the day the Angels slugger, and third base hopeful, will get the stress fracture on his right foot re-evaluated, in hopes of taking the next step in his recovery -- that of full-on sprinting and, thus, zero limitations on a baseball field.
Trumbo will be flying to Los Angeles to get re-imaged by foot-and-ankle specialist Dr. Phil Kwong, who also worked through Kendrys Morales' recovery from a broken left ankle. The 25-year-old Trumbo is simply waiting for the miniature tear on his foot to completely close up.
Once it does, the former first baseman can fully attack a brand new position.
"I'm optimistic, and I love the way I feel and everything, but I also don't want to jump the gun," Trumbo said on Sunday, the day pitchers, catchers and injured players reported to Spring Training. "Once I do get cleared, I think it's going to be some adjustments. I know I've already sensed some of them, with me playing a little bit of third base. But like I've said all along, I have to be flexible. Wherever I can get the at-bats, I'm happy to do it."
The Albert Pujols signing has suddenly left Trumbo fighting for at-bats, even though he finished second in American League Rookie of the Year voting last season. The Angels are hoping the progressing Morales can be their designated hitter, leaving Trumbo to learn third base in order to get in the lineup as often as possible. Recently, the Angels also told Trumbo about the possibility of playing some outfield down the road.
For now, Trumbo will continue to take batting practice, jog lightly and do some limited work at third base -- fielding balls hit in his general vicinity and making throws across the diamond. He initially hoped to be completely cleared by this point, but his foot took a little longer to heal than originally anticipated.
So, like with Morales and DH, the Angels must wait before fully evaluating Trumbo's ability to man the hot corner.
"Right now, he's going to be limited to ground balls right at him, kind of low-intensity defensive work -- which is important, but not going to give you the kind of read that you want," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It set us back because, hopefully, he was at a point coming into Spring Training where he was in shape, ready to go and we could get right back to that high-intensity stuff to try to get him ready. This is going to be a little longer effort through spring. Maybe the evaluation process is going to take a little longer to see where he is. But from the first stages of what he's doing, catching a ground ball at third base, he looks fine."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.