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04/18/12 11:08 PM ET

New deals about comfort for Kendrick, Aybar

ANAHEIM -- By agreeing to contract extensions with only months left before becoming free agents, Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick and shortstop Erick Aybar basically left money on the table.

Kendrick, who agreed to a four-year, $33.5 million deal in January, would've been one of few good second-base options available now that the Rangers' Ian Kinsler and the Reds' Brandon Phillips have also been locked up by their respective clubs.

Aybar, whose four-year deal that is believed to be worth $35 million was finalized on Wednesday, would've been the best shortstop option in a market where the Mets and Red Sox could be major players.

But free agency, Kendrick will tell you, is overrated.

"It's not always about money, man," he said. "It's about playing this game, doing what you love and being happy with that. Money's one thing. You're going to make a lot of money playing this game in general. Just because you wait it out until free agency -- not every player wants to do that.

"I think there's a lot of security in what we did get in our contract. It's just something that we feel comfortable in. We grew up here. If that means we took less money, then hey -- I don't think we got cheated. We knew what was out there and we knew what we possibly could've gotten, or if we missed out on something. But I don't feel like I missed out on anything, and I'm pretty sure Erick feels the same way. If he didn't, I don't think he would've signed that extension."

Aybar's deal, unlike Kendrick's, kicks in next year, keeping him in the books through the 2016 season -- and making him Kendrick's up-the-middle partner through at least 2015.

His reported average annual value of $8.75 million would rank only 10th all-time among shortstops, trailing Derek Jeter (twice), Jose Reyes, Troy Tulowitzki, Miguel Tejada, Hanley Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo.

His teammate sees it another way.

"It's huge," said Kendrick, who joined the Angels organization in 2002, the same year as Aybar. "He'll have more security. It's something that's going to be good for us as a team. I feel comfortable with him out there and I'm comfortable with him."

Angels' lineup tweaks include Abreu at leadoff

ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia unveiled lineup combination No. 10 prior to the 12th game of the season on Wednesday, with Bobby Abreu hitting leadoff for the first time since 2010, the struggling Erick Aybar taking a breather and Mark Trumbo not starting for the third straight time.

Trumbo, who hasn't started at third base since Friday, was out of the lineup because of a viral infection -- with Scioscia coy about whether he would've started in the first place -- but may see plenty of time soon, with three lefties starting against the Angels in the next four days.

For Abreu, who came in batting .231, it was his first start at the leadoff spot since Aug. 28, 2010. The lefty-hitting slugger holds a .286 batting average and .391 on-base percentage while making 49 career starts as a table-setter.

He was there on Wednesday partly because of his on-base ability and partly to give Aybar (.171 batting average coming in) what Scioscia called "just a little recharge day."

"I think it's a good spot for Bobby," Scioscia said prior to the matchup with A's right-hander Bartolo Colon. "He's led off before, when he was younger, and the one thing about seeing pitches and getting on base is important out of anybody who's going to hit first or second. Right now, Howie [Kendrick] is getting comfortable hitting in the two-hole, and we'll give Bobby a chance to hopefully set the table ahead of him."

Cassevah nearing return to Angels' bullpen

ANAHEIM -- Angels reliever Bobby Cassevah believes he can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The 26-year-old right-hander, who began the season on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, is scheduled to make back-to-back appearances for Class A Inland Empire on Friday and Saturday. If that goes well, he may be activated.

"I think his stuff is definitely picking up," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think he's recovering well, so we'll be able to look at him and see where he is in the next couple outings."

Cassevah, who posted a 2.72 ERA in 30 appearances last year, has given up just one run -- on a homer on Tuesday -- on four hits and two walks in five one-inning appearances for the Inland Empire 66ers.

If activated, Cassevah would give the Angels' beleaguered bullpen a ground-ball-producing machine and would likely replace another ground-ball pitcher in rookie David Carpenter.

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.