2/14/2013 7:50 P.M. ET
Angels have flexibility at designated-hitter spot
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- One overlooked component of an Angels offense that figures to be among baseball's very best this season is the newfound -- and necessary -- flexibility Mike Scioscia now has at designated hitter.
With defensively limited Kendrys Morales gone, and Mark Trumbo now the primary DH, the Angels' skipper will find it a lot easier this season to give Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton some rest by using them in the DH spot.
It's an important aspect now, with Pujols coming off arthroscopic knee surgery and Hamilton averaging 129 games the last five years. And it'll be critical down the road, given the money tied to the two 30-something-year-old sluggers.
"We did have some flexibility once Kendrys last year could play the field, but I think we'll have more this year," Scioscia said. "We're going to use it as we need it. I don't think we're going to lean on it a lot more than we did last year, but we do have that option if something comes up to get a guy off his [feet], where he doesn't have to grind on the field and can just DH."
Pujols, 33, and owed $228 million over the next nine years, started 34 games at DH last year, most of it down the stretch as a result of the lingering pain that prompted a minor knee clean-up in October. Hamilton, 31, and signed to a five-year, $125 million contract, totaled 53 starts as a DH in his five-year stint with the Rangers, 32 of which came the last three seasons.
Even if totally healthy, there's an added benefit to getting guys like Hamilton and Pujols off their feet every once in a while to keep them fresh for the stretch run.
And Scioscia plans to utilize that.
"There's going to be days where you try to work ahead and just do it as a preventative, and there's some days where you're going to do it because you need to," Scioscia said. "There's no finite days, it's all feel, but the thing is to try to keep those guys in the lineup on the offensive side as much as you can to keep that continuity."
Pujols to be cautious in spring after knee surgery
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Albert Pujols didn't sound concerned that his offseason right knee surgery would impact his ability to get ready for the regular season, but he'll be navigating through Spring Training more cautiously this year.
Pujols arrived to the Tempe Diablo Stadium facility on Tuesday, three days prior to the first full workout, and has been taking batting practice alongside Josh Hamilton. For now, though, he isn't doing much running.
"Just really taking it easy and just working my way into it," Pujols said. "My main goal is to try to be ready by Opening Day. It's not for Spring Training. Spring Training, obviously, you get your work and everything done. But one thing is we have plenty of time, so I'm not going to rush myself or take this injury into the season. I feel great right now."
Pujols' arthroscopic knee surgery, done early in the offseason, stems from running the bases in Fenway Park on Aug. 22. He missed the next four games, started the next 16 at designated hitter and didn't quite feel right the rest of the way.
"You saw how I played the last six or seven weeks of the season -- I was in a lot of pain," Pujols said. "Everything is good. I rehabbed well. This Spring Training will be different than last year, where I was doing everything. Right now, I'm kind of easing in."
Trout adds weight, still wants to play aggressively
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Mike Trout is heading into the 2013 season with a new position and a new weight.
On Thursday, shortly after getting his physical exam, the 21-year-old leadoff hitter, and new left fielder, came in about 10 pounds heavier, at 240. It was a stark difference from last spring, when a nasty virus prompted Trout to lose more than 10 pounds.
"You know, my weight fluctuates," Trout said. "During the course of Spring Training, I'll lose probably five to 10 pounds. So, where I need to be to start the year, I felt like coming in heavier and then getting down my weight to start the year. I know where I need to be."
Asked if he expected it to alter his all-out, aggressive playing style, Trout said: "Nah. I feel great, look forward to the spring and got to get on the right path. Like I said, I have just one thing on my mind -- get to the postseason, come together, have fun."
After robbing four home runs and posting a 10.6 Ultimate Zone Rating in center field, Trout will switch to left to make room for Peter Bourjos -- a move that will improve the Angels' defense and also help keep Trout's legs fresh.
Without question, Trout would prefer to play center field. But he took the high road when asked about the move.
"Whatever it takes to win, I'll do it," Trout said. "I played a little bit of left last year. It's tough to get used to at first, but I'm sure playing every day, I'll get used to it."
• The Angels announced Wednesday that FOX Sports West and Prime Ticket will be televising 23 of their Spring Training games beginning Feb. 24, making up the most expansive schedule yet. Terry Smith and Jose Mota will call the action, with Mark Gubicza and Tim Salmon popping in from time to time.
Highlights of the spring broadcast schedule include: Feb. 24 vs. A's, Feb. 26 vs. D-backs, Feb. 27 and March 24 vs. Giants and March 1 vs. Dodgers. The Angels' March 28 exhibition against the Dodgers, taking place at Angel Stadium, will also be televised.
• Angels reliever Ernesto Frieri is working on a cutter this spring to offset his heavily used two-seam fastball -- not a changeup, as manager Mike Scioscia mentioned on the first day of camp. Frieri likes the cutter because he throws it from the same arm slot and with a very similar grip.
• Scioscia recently took a trip to Lincoln, Neb., to visit Darin Erstad, the former Angels outfielder and first baseman who became the University of Nebraska's head baseball coach in June 2011. Asked if he sees any similarities, Scioscia joked: "He's a lot thinner, in better shape. … As coach, you have to temper that passion you had when playing, and it looks like Darin has been able to bridge that. He's great communicating with players -- they understand his vision for the club, and they're going to get after it."
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.