02/24/2013 8:27 PM ET
An early starter, Maronde should end up in 'pen
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Nick Maronde's future in the Major Leagues is probably as a reliever. He has the makeup, throws left-handed, has good command of his fastball and slider, doesn't have that third pitch -- a changeup -- locked down and had success out of the bullpen with the Angels last year.
For now, though, he'll be stretched out.
"First and foremost, we want to give him a chance to make our team, because he could be valuable and he showed it last year ... but he's still developing," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "For him to develop like we talked about, with the command of a breaking ball, is something that you need reps for. And you have a better chance to do that as a starter in the Minor Leagues than in the bullpen. So I think from a development component, it'd be good for him to start."
In his first full season in the pros, Maronde jumped three levels in the Angels' system last year, compiling a 2.26 ERA while starting 18 of his 20 games, then gave up only one run in 12 appearances (six innings) with the Angels as a reliever -- a role he starred in at the University of Florida.
"Small sample size," Maronde said, smiling.
Now that the Angels added a second lefty in Sean Burnett, though, the 23-year-old's chances of making the Opening Day roster as a reliever are slim. Chances are he'll be starting for the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees in April.
Asked what role he thinks he'll serve in the Majors long-term, Maronde said: "I think it just depends on what the need is, to be honest. Either way, I'll be happy."
Wells remains focused on role with Angels
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Vernon Wells keeps track of everything that goes on in baseball. So on Sunday afternoon, shortly after checking out of his first spring game, he had already found out that Curtis Granderson would miss 10 weeks with a broken forearm, that the Yankees may be looking for another outfielder and that, naturally, his name would be thrown around.
But Wells isn't thinking about a potential trade to New York.
"It just stinks for them," Wells said. "It has nothing to do with me. I'm wearing an Angels uniform, and I want to be in this uniform and win in this uniform."
Wells, owed $42 million over the next two years but without a clear role, continues to take the high road regarding his situation, saying he hasn't demanded a trade and putting the onus on himself for not having an everyday job.
But while Peter Bourjos is expected to be the everyday center fielder, Angels manager Mike Scioscia hasn't made any promises, publicly leaving the door open -- ever so slightly, at least -- for Wells to win some playing time in his crowded outfield this season.
That's motivation enough.
"I want to give them every reason to make it a hard decision, and I'm sure Peter's going to do the same," said Wells, who had a single in two at-bats and misplayed a line drive in left field. "But we have fun with it. We know we're going to push each other to be better, and that's just going to benefit this ballclub."
Will Wells really have a chance to earn even a semi-everyday role on the team? He isn't quite sure of that himself. But after posting a .218/.248/.412 slash line in 2011, then hitting .230 in 77 games in 2012, he's still eager to redeem himself.
"I put myself in this position -- I said that before," Wells said. "My job is to get better. I had a rough couple of years, that's part of the game, but I think everybody loves a comeback story."
Hall's new claim to fame: First base
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Bill Hall has played 7,528 1/3 innings in the Majors at seven different positions, including one at pitcher. None of that time has come at first base -- until now.
Hall, the 33-year-old trying to win a bench spot this spring, spent a little bit of time at first base during the workouts and played there for five innings during Sunday's near-four-hour game against the A's.
If Hall can adapt, it would make him useful to the Angels at six positions -- first base, second, third, left field, right field and, perhaps to a lesser degree, shortstop.
"He's been working out in the middle infield early, he can play third base and he can play the outfield," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "As far as his versatility, any time a guy can pick up a new position, it's important."
By the end of the month, the Angels basically have to make a decision on Hall, who's signed to a Minor League deal. The club will owe him a $100,000 bonus if it wants to keep him in the organization, but not on the 25-man roster, past March 26.
Proving he can also play first base can't hurt his chances of making the team, but it isn't expected to be the deciding factor.
"If Billy's going to make our team, it's going to be where his bat plays," Scioscia said. "He has to show some ability to play on the left side of the infield, too."
Hall went 1-for-2 with a double and a run scored in the Angels' 7-5 loss to the A's, and just barely missed a two-run homer. With the Angels down three, one on and none out in the bottom of the eighth, Hall hit a towering shot that bounced off the very top of the chain-link fence that surrounds the outfield wall. The third-base umpire ruled it in play, Luis Rodriguez was thrown out at home plate and Scioscia went out to get an explanation.
"I thought it went over, that it hit the [grass beyond the fence] and came back," Scioscia said. "They said it hit the top of the fence, so that was that."
• Mike Trout (@Trouty20) wrote via Twitter on Sunday that he'll be making his spring debut against the Mariners in Peoria on Monday. Scioscia said prior to Sunday's game that the 21-year-old outfielder wouldn't play until at least Tuesday.
• Hiroshi Kobayashi, who is fighting for a spot in the Angels' bullpen, made his spring debut on Sunday, giving up a run on one hit while walking two and striking out one over two innings. "As the innings went on, I think his split became more effective," said Scioscia, who was seeing him for the first time in a game. "His velocity maybe wasn't as crisp as we've seen in the bullpens, but I thought he pitched well."
• Lefty reliever Sean Burnett, nursing some stiffness in his lower back, is expected to start throwing again as early as Monday. He'll have to progress from flat ground, but the Angels believe he's still on track for Opening Day.
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.