2/17/2014 7:02 P.M. ET
Utility role is Green's best shot at Angels roster
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Versatility will be key for Grant Green's chances of making the Angels out of Spring Training.
Down the stretch last year, the 26-year-old former first-round pick primarily filled in as an everyday second baseman while Howie Kendrick was out with a knee injury for a little more than a month. But Kendrick is back now, every other spot on the infield is covered, and Green -- acquired from the A's for Alberto Callaspo in July -- has never really had his own position.
His focus this offseason was on second base, but he bought an outfield glove and realizes he may have to bounce around a lot this spring.
"It's huge," Green said of showing versatility. "It's the type of thing where if you can show them you can play multiple positions, it's an extra benefit for them to have an extra place to play you."
Green is a much better hitter than he is a defender, and he still has a lot of learning to do at the position where he's most comfortable (second base). He's bounced around a lot in his four seasons in the Minor Leagues, and Green believes he's capable of playing five positions if needed -- second base, third base, shortstop and the outfield corners.
"And I can play center if I have to," Green added. "I'm not going to be a defensive liability if I'm out there."
Frieri hopes to change up his arsenal
TEMPE, Ariz. -- So, what will be Ernesto Frieri's secondary pitch du jour this spring?
"I have a nasty changeup that nobody's going to touch," the Angels' amicable closer said with a big smile. "You'll see."
Get Frieri going about his changeup, and he'll list off the three batters he struck out with it in 2013: A's shortstop Jed Lowrie, Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus and Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager.
He remembers this, because he's still kicking himself for not having the confidence to use it more often.
"The few times I threw changeups, I remember how bad hitters looked," Frieri said in Spanish.
"I'm always going to pitch with my fastball. But if I can throw an offspeed pitch that looks like the fastball coming out of my hand, it's only going to play up my fastball. I want to put it in other hitters' minds that it's not only the fastball that's coming."
Frieri had that mindset last spring, but he came into camp trying to master a cutter that never really worked out, then approached the ensuing season the same way he has approached every other: By relying too heavily on his lively fastball.
In 2013, while posting a 3.80 ERA and converting 37 of 41 saves, Frieri threw 88 percent fastballs, 10 percent cutters and two percent changeups. In 2012, while posting a 2.32 ERA and converting 23 of 26 saves, it was 86 percent fastballs, seven percent sliders and seven percent curveballs.
Every spring, he tries to implement a secondary pitch. But when the games start counting, and survival mode kicks in, Frieri always reverts back to the fastball that hitters may start to figure out if he continues to be a one-pitch reliever.
He hopes to change that up, so to speak.
"I feel more confident in throwing it," Frieri said of his changeup. "What I want to see now is the reaction from the hitters. Hitters are the ones who tell you if the pitch is good or bad. And that's what Spring Training is for.
"This spring, I'm going to work on it a lot to see what the reaction from hitters is. If it's good, get ready for the season -- changeups for everybody."
Bevy of lefties vying for spot in Angels bullpen
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels camp is stacked with southpaw relievers who have a history of being effective against left-handed hitters, and that's no coincidence. With lefty-swingers Robinson Cano (Mariners) and Prince Fielder (Rangers) joining the American League West, and Sean Burnett coming back from August forearm surgery, lefty specialists are of particular need this time around.
But Angels manager Mike Scioscia doesn't feel compelled to pick one.
"We're not going to take a left-handed arm that we don't feel is as effective just to have a lefty," Scioscia said. "We went for a number of years without a lefty and had great success with it. We have some really talented right-handers in our bullpen who get lefties out. If we get a lefty, it's a definite tool we'd like to have. But we're not going to do it at the expense of losing a good arm."
From 2002-08, a stretch in which they made the playoffs five times, the Angels ranked no lower than seventh in the Majors in bullpen ERA in six of seven seasons. During that span, they never really had a second lefty, and in two of those seasons -- '04 and '05 -- they didn't even deploy one.
Now they can make an entire bullpen of lefty relievers if they really wanted to.
Burnett -- still only playing catch from 90 feet, but also still targeting Opening Day -- has a guaranteed spot late in games if healthy. Then there's Buddy Boshers (a product of the Angels' system), Robert Carson (claimed off waivers by the Mets), Brian Moran (Rule 5 Draft pick) and Clay Rapada (signed to a Minor League contract), all of whom are fighting for a spot as a second lefty -- and hoping Scioscia even wants one.
Moran is the most interesting, because if he doesn't make the Angels' Opening Day roster, he must be offered back to the Mariners. If he makes the 25-man roster, he'd be the first Rule 5 selection to stick with the Angels since Derrick Turnbow in 2000.
Moran, 25, had a 3.45 ERA, a 1.44 WHIP and a 4.25 strikeouts-to-walk ratio in 62 2/3 innings for the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate, but it was mostly the righties who did damage against him. Lefties hit just .235/.272/.322 against him.
"There is no doubt that he has a chance to help us as more of a situational lefty," Scioscia said. "I don't think he's going to wow you with a lot of his stuff, but there is no doubt that he's very effective against lefties."
• Asked if the Angels need to address their starting-pitching depth in light of Mark Mulder's season-ending left Achilles' injury, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said: "We'll continue to monitor either the trade market or what might be out there. But as we've talked about, we like the group we have, with [Jered Weaver] and C.J. [Wilson], Garrett [Richards], Hector [Santiago] and Tyler [Skaggs], and we do feel like we have depth beyond that."
• Position players -- including Mike Trout -- report for their physical examinations on Tuesday, and could expect a different camp when they take part in their first workout on Wednesday. Unlike last spring, the Angels won't practice on the main fields of the Tempe Diablo Stadium complex. They'll all be in the backfields, taking a lot more swings than usual and emphasizing situational hitting a lot more than before.
• Left-hander Clay Rapada, in competition for one of the Angels' last two bullpen spots, isn't sure if he'd accept an assignment to the Minor Leagues if he doesn't make the Opening Day roster. "That's going to be the decision. To me, at this point in my career, it's going to be a family decision. Are they willing to ship out, come out west, and go through the Minor Leagues on the West Coast?"
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.