02/13/2013 9:06 PM ET
Cassevah aiming for spot in Angels' bullpen
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- It's a tad dramatic, but in no way inaccurate: This is the most important Spring Training of Bobby Cassevah's life.
Coming off a season that was hindered by shoulder woes and spent in Triple-A, the 27-year-old right-hander is out of options and looking to find his way into a crowded Angels bullpen by Opening Day.
Late last spring, Cassevah suffered a slight tear in his right rotator cuff, an ailment that didn't require surgery but one that ensured he started the season in the Minor Leagues. Then, a 6.22 ERA in 44 games at Triple-A Salt Lake mostly kept him there, save for a one-week stint in the big leagues.
Cassevah said he wasn't dealing with any physical issues in the Minors, just mental ones.
"I felt like I should've been in the big leagues, and obviously wanted to, and I obviously started struggling and never picked it back up," said Cassevah, who posted a 2.87 ERA in 59 2/3 innings with the Angels from 2010-11. "I finished strong, but the season obviously didn't go the way I wanted it to go."
Cassevah was then sent to the Arizona Fall League, where he stretched himself out longer than he has since pitching in rookie ball in 2006. He served as a starter for the Scottsdale Scorpions, learning how to go through lineups two or three times over and pitching as deep as five innings.
It was there, as one of the elder statesmen in a league typically designed to showcase prospects, that Cassevah believes he learned how to pitch again.
"Just facing the lineup two or three times instead of just chucking as hard as you can for three outs is a totally different mindset," said Cassevah, who went 2-0 with a 3.13 ERA in six AFL starts. "If I carry that mindset over to relieving for those three big outs, it's key."
With clean MRI, Madson won't rush elbow recovery
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Two things became clear regarding Ryan Madson on Wednesday: What he's dealing with in his surgically repaired elbow is nothing more than inflammation, and being ready for Opening Day is essentially out the window.
The former was revealed in an MRI on Tuesday that came back clean. The latter is the result of Madson being shut down 13 days ago and unable to throw again for another week, when he will be re-evaluated.
Madson won't dismiss pitching the ninth inning on April 1 in Cincinnati, but he's no longer in a race against time to make it back by then.
"That's what I was going towards, and it maybe got me in a little bit of trouble," Madson said. "Now I don't have a date in mind. I just want to let my arm take me and guide me."
Madson, who underwent Tommy John surgery on April 11 of last year, first felt uncommon soreness in his elbow during his fourth bullpen session of the offseason on Feb. 1. Since then, he's only been getting treatment. For the next seven days, he'll be on a strengthening program.
"I'm just going to listen to the trainers and my arm, especially, and just let it do its thing and not try to put any limits or goals on it," said Madson, who signed an incentive-laden one-year contract this winter. "But I can't wait to go out on the field and pitch in a game. I want everybody to know that, the fans to know that -- I am eager to get out there, and that's what got me in trouble in the first place."
The Angels don't want to rush his recovery, so they'll wait until all the swelling subsides before allowing him to pick up a baseball again.
"I think that what he has is definitely manageable," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's just going to be a matter of following some protocol to make sure he doesn't do a little too much, too soon. He's hopefully going to feel better fairly quickly."
If Madson starts the season on the disabled list -- all but a certainty at this point -- Ernesto Frieri would probably be the closer, with Sean Burnett, Scott Downs and Kevin Jepsen the other options in the relief corps' back end.
Madson's temporary absence would also create an additional opening in the bullpen, with Michael Kohn, Garrett Richards, Hiroyuki Kobayashi, David Carpenter and Bobby Cassevah (out of options) among an eclectic group competing.
"I think there's depth there," Scioscia said, "and Ryan is a guy that can really solidify some roles down there and we look forward to that. I think from Day 1, we should be in a position to hold leads better than we did last year. And we expect Ryan to eventually be part of that."
Hall hopes offseason work pays off at Halos camp
TEMPE, Ariz. -- For seven years leading up to 2010, Bill Hall was a consistent big league contributor, posting a .251/.311/.443 line while averaging 131 games per season. In '06, he even hit 35 homers.
But finding work has been difficult these last couple seasons. In 2012, after a rough stint with the Astros and Giants the year before, the 33-year-old played in only seven Major League games with the Orioles, spending the rest of his season struggling with their Triple-A affiliate.
This offseason, the Angels gave Hall a shot on a Minor League contract just a couple weeks before Spring Training.
"It's life -- everything isn't going to be perfect," Hall said Wednesday upon arriving at Angels camp. "You're going to have to work. I put myself in these situations, and I have to work my way out of them. I feel like I'm still young enough to have some good years left. I'm just 33. Yeah, I played a long time, but 33 is not that old. I still have a few good ones left. Especially with the versatility I have in moving around and things like that, I can help this team in a lot of different areas."
Hall is among those competing for the backup infield spot this spring, along with Andrew Romine, Luis Rodriguez, Brendan Harris and Tommy Field.
Of that group, Hall is perceivably the most limited at shortstop. Hall looked to correct that this offseason, shedding about 20 pounds in order to be more agile and get more looks at the position he came up playing but has hardly seen time at since 2006.
The Angels, however, see the right-handed-hitter more as a backup at second base, third base and the outfield corners. So, if Hall does make the Opening Day roster, he'd probably do so alongside a backup shortstop.
Regardless, the Angels will have to make a decision on Hall by the end of the month. As an XX-B free agent, like Jason Isringhausen last spring, the club owes him a $100,000 bonus if it wants to keep him in the organization but not on the 25-man roster past March 26.
"I understand sometimes it's a numbers game," said Hall, who batted .246 with a .300 on-base percentage and 15 homers in 90 games for Triple-A Norfolk. "Moves have to be made, and they're not always what the team could do at the time, it's what they can do with the numbers and guys on the 40-man. I'm here, I'm in shape. No matter what happens, I know I worked my [butt] off to get where I'm at right now, especially with losing all the weight and getting some quickness back."
Cordero eyes comeback on Minors deal with Halos
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels agreed to terms on a Minor League contract with former closer Chad Cordero on Wednesday.
The deal, however, does not include a Spring Training invite. So the 30-year-old right-hander will simply report to Minor League camp this weekend.
Cordero last pitched in the Majors in 2010, appearing in nine games for the Mariners, and spent the early part of the 2011 season pitching in the Blue Jays' farm system, posting a 9.89 ERA in 23 2/3 innings. He later began a stint in independent ball, then retired in June of that year and spent 2012 away from baseball.
With the Expos/Nationals from 2004-07, Cordero posted a 2.83 ERA, saved 127 games and made an All-Star team before eventually succumbing to major shoulder surgery.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read 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.