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03/31/12 5:25 PM ET

Bullpen seemingly set with Bell's demotion

TEMPE, Ariz. -- By optioning right-hander Trevor Bell to Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday, Angels manager Mike Scioscia essentially set his bullpen for the start of the 2012 season.

Kevin Jepsen and Rich Thompson now appear in line to make the club with Bobby Cassevah (labrum tear) and Michael Kohn (forearm strain) starting the season on the DL.

In four appearances (one start) this spring, Bell posted a 3.72 ERA. He struck out five and walked five.

On Friday, the Angels informed 39-year-old Jason Isringhausen he would make the club, leaving Bell, Thompson and Jepsen competing for three spots.

Now it appears the Angels bullpen is set with right-handers Isringhausen, Thompson, Jepsen, LaTroy Hawkins and Jordan Walden, and lefties Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi.

Richards, Williams vying for last rotation spot

MESA, Ariz. -- The fifth starter spot remains open for the Angels and the two main candidates for the job put forth positive auditions against the Cubs on Saturday.

Garrett Richards pitched well over six innings against the Cubs in Mesa, while Jerome Williams, who is recovering from a right-hamstring injury, tossed four solid frames against the Cubs' Minor League squad in Tempe.

It was Richards' final chance to impress at the big-league level before the club decides on a starter for their April 15 game against the Yankees, the first time a No. 5 starter will be needed.

He looked sharp in allowing three runs (two earned) in his six innings of work. Manager Mike Scioscia said Richards could have easily gone seven had the defense helped him out a bit. The three runs he allowed were the results of an error, bunt single and double-steal attempt.

"I feel good about the outing today, and I feel good about this entire spring training," said Richards, who finished with a 3.54 ERA in five Cactus League starts. "Like I've said before, I go out there to push the envelope and make the decision on them hard. That's all I can do."

As for Williams, making his second start this spring since suffering the hamstring injury early in camp, he threw 44 pitches, allowing a run on four hits in six innings. In seven spring innings, Williams has allowed just one run, throwing himself squarely into the discussion for the No. 5 starter.

Now, the two pitchers will likely take the mound twice in Minor League games before the April 15 decision. Richards and Williams are slated to throw next on April 5, which is also the regular season opener for Triple-A Salt Lake.

Following his outing Saturday, Richards said he feels like he's done enough to secure the job, but acknowledged it's not in his control.

"That's not my decision," he said. "The ball's in their hands, and so when it comes down to that, all I can do is do everything I possibly can, and they're going to make the decision."

He certainly caught the eye of Scioscia, who said Richards is pitching the best he's ever seen him pitch. That said, Scioscia won't have his mind made before the next outing as he plans to extend Williams to 75 pitches and then 90.

"Jerome is obviously more polished and more of the finished product," Scioscia said before Saturday's game. "He's made adjustments in his game from his experience in the Major Leagues before. He's harnessed that, so you know what you're going to get. Garrett's not near the finished product, but his stuff is more consistent and it's playing bigger this spring."

Scioscia said he entered camp feeling like he had 4 1/2 starters because of Williams' injury and the uncertainty around the young Richards. Now with the club set to break camp in Tempe on Sunday, Scioscia said he feels like he has seven or eight viable options for the rotation -- including Brad Mills and Trevor Bell, both of whom have been optioned to Triple-A.

"You need starting pitching depth," Scioscia said. "When Jerome went down we saw Brad Mills throwing well, Trevor Bell, Garrett Richards and Jerome's back into the fold. That's important for us."

Walden feels good to go for season opener

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Pitching back-to-back days for the first time this spring, Jordan Walden would have been just fine had he awoken Saturday morning to a bit of soreness in his right arm.

When the Angels' closer woke up to no tenderness at all, he was taken aback by the realization that his arm felt better than expected, meaning he's already good to go for the club's regular season opener against the Royals on Friday.

"You expect to feel a little sore, and I wasn't," Walden said. "My arm felt good. So I feel like I'm in good shape right now and I'm almost ready for the season to start."

Walden pitched with the big league club on Thursday against the Royals, before throwing a Minor league game on Friday. He won't throw back-to-back days again this spring.

For Walden, throwing on consecutive days was one of the last hurdles he needed to overcome before being fully ready for the season.

"It's something that you don't do until you get here and at game speed," Walden said. "At home, you can't really train for back-to-back games. It's something that your arm's got to be able to do."

Walden has struggled a bit this spring, allowing six runs in 7 1/3 innings. He'll get a few appearances in the club's remaining Spring Training games, where he says he'll be fine-tuning.

"I still have to work on my off-speed pitches a little bit, and my command," Walden said. "It's just little things, but I think, all together, I'm ready for the season to start."

Most regulars headed back to LA Saturday

TEMPE, Ariz. -- With the Angels set for a three-game exhibition series in Southern California against the Dodgers, most of the club's regulars will break camp following Saturday's game against the Cubs and head back to Los Angeles.

A few big names, most notably Jered Weaver and Mark Trumbo, will stay in Tempe for Sunday's game against the Cubs, but for the most part, the Angels' big leaguers officially concluded their Cactus League slate on Saturday.

"At this point, everyone wants to get out of here," right-hander starter Dan Haren said. "We've been here a while. A lot of early mornings. So we're ready for games to start mattering."

Haren, who lives in Los Angeles, noted just how sweet it is to be headed home to see his family. Coupled with the anticipation of the regular season, Haren said his enthusiasm is running pretty high right now.

"It's pretty much the same excitement [every year], except, obviously, this year with the team we have, I think there's a little bit more excitement," Haren said. "But at this point, if you went around to every team, they'd be ready to get out."

Manager Mike Scioscia said the trip back home is well deserved.

"These guys are ready for night games, there's no doubt about it," Scioscia said. "There's the Groundhog Day aspect that comes into every Spring Training as you get to a certain point in spring, and I think we're at that."

Catcher Chris Iannetta used his spring getting used to a new club after being acquired from the Rockies in a trade last November. He said the six weeks of training serve a purpose, but the club is ready to start the season.

"There's a reason we come here in the spring, and that's to get into shape," Iannetta said. "No matter how much you do in the offseason, training-wise, you can't substitute the game reps, you can't substitute being on the field. You go through this whole process to get to where we almost are now, the regular season."

AJ Cassavell is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.