TEMPE, Ariz. -- It's early, but veteran reliever Kevin Jepsen has been turning some heads during his bullpen sessions. Owner Arte Moreno and general manager Jerry Dipoto liked what they saw on Tuesday, and Mike Scioscia spoke highly about how he looked on Wednesday.
"From Spring Training last year, [Jepsen] didn't look like he was throwing the ball as well as he could, and it carried over into the season," the Angels skipper said. "And he went down to the Minor Leagues and he never really found his velocity, his command, the crispness on his pitches. He looks like a different guy this spring. He looks strong. He looks healthy. He had that knee that bothered him toward the end of the year that he had cleaned out, and he looks very good right now."
Jepsen, a 27-year-old right-hander, posted a 4.43 ERA while appearing in 122 games for the Angels from 2009-10. Last year, he posted a 7.62 ERA in 16 Major League games, then a 4.45 ERA in 24 appearances in the Minors before being shut down in mid-July. Then, on Aug. 31, he underwent arthroscopic surgery on a troublesome right knee.
Now, he's among several right-handers vying for a spot in the bullpen.
"I'll go in and do what I need to do and get back to the way I throw," Jepsen said. "Go out and compete, and from that point, everything will take care of itself."
Scioscia responds to Abreu's trade demand
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Simply put, Bobby Abreu wants to continue to be an everyday player. He has expressed that to Mike Scioscia, in a couple of offseason conversations the Angels skipper has described as "very candid," and he indicated it strongly to ESPNdeportes.com on Tuesday.
But in reacting to Abreu's public comments on Wednesday morning, Scioscia expressed his belief in two things ...
1. He can establish some sort of middle ground with Abreu, where maybe he isn't playing every day, but isn't rotting on the bench, either.
2. Comments aside, Abreu won't be any sort of a distraction when he arrives to the club's Spring Training facility on Sunday.
"I don't think Bobby is going to be anything but a player who wants to come out here and wants to help us win," Scioscia said. "How much playing time he gets, we don't have a crystal ball. We certainly have more depth now than we've had in a long time. But I don't think Bobby would be valuable playing once or twice a week. He would have to play more than that. But there's certainly ways to get a lot of guys in the lineup to where they're contributing."
The outfield was already set. Now, the Albert Pujols signing has left the designated hitter spot cluttered, with Mark Trumbo (also learning third base) and Kendrys Morales (recovering from a broken left ankle) there to fill the role.
Speaking in Spanish from Venezuela, Abreu told ESPNdeportes.com: "I'm an everyday player and can be in the lineup for a big league team. I'm not going to be on the bench knowing I can play. If the Angels don't have a set position for me, then the best thing they can do is trade me. It'd be the right thing to do. I'm not going to do anything sitting on the bench."
Abreu's $9 million contract and his declining numbers last year -- he continued to draw walks frequently, but batted just .253 with eight home runs -- has made it very difficult for the Angels and general manager Jerry Dipoto to move him.
"Bobby is aware of the circumstances, he's aware of the people on the roster," Dipoto told MLB.com Tuesday. "We do see a fit for Bobby on this club, he's aware of where that fit is. ... Whether it's an ultimatum that's been issued, he has no right to do that."
At worst, Scioscia still sees value in Abreu as an experienced, patient lefty bat off the bench who can get an occasional spot start.
The problem remains that Abreu believes he can contribute more.
"Bobby and I have always spoken very candidly," Scioscia said. "I think Bobby, he's a professional. He's going to go out there and you don't get too many guys any more professional than Bobby. So I don't anticipate that being an issue. I think if there are some issues, I'm sure that his agent [Peter Greenberg] will work through [them] with Jerry. Bobby's here, he's going to help us win games, and that's what we're looking forward to."
Greenberg did not return calls seeking comment.
Izturis prepared for any role this season
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Veteran infielder Maicer Izturis has arrived in Angels camp and proclaims to feeling "healthy, relaxed and ready to go."
Another feeling that may be mixed in there: uneasiness.
Izturis is one of a handful of Angels who doesn't really know where he fits on the 2012 club. For the better part of his eight-year career, Izturis has basically just fit in where he could -- at third base, shortstop, second, wherever.
But since the Albert Pujols signing has caused a bit of a clutter -- one where Kendrys Morales is hoping to fill in at designated hitter, Mark Trumbo is scrounging for at-bats at third base and guys like Izturis and Alberto Callaspo are unsure where they stand -- it's a little different for Izturis this year.
"I know there are a bunch of teams that want me," Izturis, who usually arrives early from Venezuela, said in Spanish on Wednesday. "I know there are a lot of teams that want to give me second base every day, or shortstop every day, but I'm in the hands of [the Angels]. And if I'm here, I'm going to try to take on whatever role they give me. If they trade me, then hopefully it's good for the team and for me, too."
The switch-hitting Izturis played in a career-high 122 games last year, batting .276 with a .334 on-base percentage while getting starts at third base, second base, shortstop and DH. Izturis, who's owed $3.8 million in the final year of his contract, hasn't had a chance to speak with manager Mike Scioscia about where he stands.
He hasn't had a chance to touch base with good friend and countryman Bobby Abreu, either.
Abreu, whose situation is the most unclear of them all, recently told ESPNdeportes.com he'd prefer to be traded if he isn't playing every day. For his part, Izturis believes Abreu won't be a distraction when he arrives, saying: "He's a professional, a smart guy, and he's a good teammate."
But he can sympathize with Abreu's frustration.
"It's tough, because he's a guy who plays every day, and for this situation to present itself, it's a bit uncomfortable for a guy like him," Izturis said. "Let's see what happens when he shows up and for them to explain to him the situation. These are things we can't control as ballplayers."
Rodriguez gets visa, set to report to camp
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels reliever Francisco Rodriguez received his visa from Mexico on Wednesday and will arrive in Spring Training on Thursday morning, four days after pitchers and catchers were scheduled to report.
Signed as an amateur free agent in 2005, Rodriguez put up a 4.37 ERA and a 1.521 WHIP while making 43 appearances out of the Angels' bullpen in 2010. Last season, though, shoulder woes limited the 28-year-old right-hander to 13 2/3 innings in the Majors and 10 innings in the Minors.
The Angels designated him for assignment this offseason, then signed him to a Minor League deal after he passed through waivers and became a free agent.
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.