3/30/2013 11:09 P.M. ET
Conger, Shuck are in as Angels finalize roster
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Catcher Hank Conger, infielders Andrew Romine and Brendan Harris and outfielder J.B. Shuck will make up the Angels' bench to start the season, with Garrett Richards and Mark Lowe locking down the final two bullpen spots, manager Mike Scioscia announced after Saturday night's spring finale, a 2-1 win over the Dodgers.
Richards and Lowe join a bullpen that includes lefties Sean Burnett and Scott Downs, righties Ernesto Frieri and Kevin Jepsen, and long reliever Jerome Williams. Catcher John Hester, infielders Luis Jimenez, Efren Navarro and Luis Rodriguez, outfielder Kole Calhoun and relievers Mitch Stetter and David Carpenter will start their respective seasons in the Minor Leagues.
Chris Snyder, who can opt out of his Minor League contract if he's not on the Opening Day roster, will hope for a Major League opportunity elsewhere, but that's unlikely to come this time of year.
"This close to Opening Day, I'm pretty sure most of the rosters are set," Snyder said. "There's still a chance. But if there's nothing there, I'll be in [Triple-A] Salt Lake -- I'll be heading out on Monday, probably. It gives me an opportunity to play and still showcase."
The Angels signed Snyder on March 18, shortly after he had been released by the Nationals, because they needed some veteran insurance to account for Conger's throwing woes.
Conger, a 25-year-old switch-hitter, is the most talented among those who were vying for the job behind Chris Iannetta, but he had serious issues early in camp, making four throwing errors -- three in one game -- plus several others in Minor League games. But Conger also batted .359 with four homers -- the last of which was a walk-off on Saturday night -- and Scioscia believes he's moved past his defensive issue.
"It was a little bit of a roller-coaster this spring -- we can all agree on that," Conger said, smiling.
"As far as the catcher, you don't have to shut down a running game, but you need to contain it," Scioscia said. "Hank has the arm strength to do that, he just, for a while, lost his rhythm in the spring and had a rough time early in camp. As spring went on, there's no doubt he found his release point and threw better."
Shuck, a non-roster invitee acquired on a Minor League deal in November, out-performed the homegrown Calhoun at the plate -- going 18-for-49, compared to Calhoun's 8-for-45 -- and is more of a contact hitter.
"His spring was off the charts," Scioscia said. "I mean, he flat-out made our team."
Romine, who has appeared in 27 games with the Angels the last three years, came into camp as the odds-on favorite to replace Maicer Izturis as the backup infielder and batted .267 (12-for-45) in 22 games this spring.
Harris, also obtained on a Minor League deal in November, gets the last bench spot, providing an experienced right-handed bat and more versatility on the infield, possibly freeing Scioscia up to use Romine as a pinch-runner.
The Angels' 40-man roster is now full, with Shuck, Lowe and Harris all having their contracts purchased.
"There's some depth that we have on our bench," Scioscia said. "It's not a bench packed with a lot of power, besides what we saw Hank do, but we have versatility and we're going to have guys who are ready to go."
Hanson closes spring in fine form
ANAHEIM -- Any concerns regarding Tommy Hanson's stamina heading into the regular season were pretty much put to rest five days ago, when he pitched six innings and threw 88 pitches in an intra-squad game with hardly anyone in the stands.
But Saturday night -- when he pitched 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball against the Dodgers in front of a sold-out Angel Stadium in the Spring Training finale -- provided a different test.
"It's not 15 people in the stands and a bunch of kids I don't know -- it's my teammates," Hanson said. "I want to do well and pitch well, and all the fans and just the atmosphere here, in this stadium -- it's only my second time pitching in this stadium. Yeah, it's totally different."
Hanson is now ready for his starts to matter, and lines up to make his first one in an Angels uniform on Saturday at Rangers Ballpark.
The 26-year-old right-hander showed that by scattering only three hits, walking two and striking out six against one of baseball's best offenses. He had his best curveball this spring, commanded his fastball for most of the night and hardly broke a sweat while throwing 93 pitches.
Coming off a down year with the Braves in 2012, when he posted a 4.48 ERA and gave up a career-high 27 homers, Hanson focused his offseason work more on endurance and strength, rather than rehabilitation.
He's feeling the difference now.
"I just feel stronger this year," Hanson said. "I feel like my endurance is better. I threw 93 pitches and I felt like I could still keep going. I don't really want to go back and talk about last year, but going into this year, I feel great. I feel like this is where I need to be."
• Ryan Madson didn't throw a bullpen session on Saturday, as was originally planned. Madson threw his most intense bullpen session this spring on Wednesday, mixing in changeups and throwing his last few pitches at full intensity. The 32-year-old needs more time to bounce back before he'll get on the mound again. His next bullpen session hasn't been scheduled.
• Scioscia confirmed on Saturday that Mark Trumbo, as expected, will start in left field in Monday's season opener against the Reds, with Mike Trout moving to center field and Peter Bourjos available to come off the bench. It's slated to be 47 degrees, and mostly cloudy, at game time in Cincinnati on Opening Day, per Weather.com.
• Spring Mobile Park, home of the Angels' Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake City, hosted its first Spring Training game in more than 50 years on Saturday, when the Mariners and Rockies squared off in their final contest before Opening Day. Tickets for the game -- capacity crowd is just over 15,000 -- sold out approximately 10 minutes after they went on sale.
• The Angels' 5K and Fun Run took place earlier on Saturday, with more than 5,500 participants -- up from last year -- running a course through Angel Stadium. All proceeds from the event go toward the Angels Baseball Foundation.
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.