2/19/2014 6:15 P.M. ET
Veteran Lyon facing unfamiliar battle for spot
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Veteran right-handed reliever Brandon Lyon, 34, is on his first Minor League contract, and, for pretty much the first time in his 12-year career, he will have to battle to win a spot in a Major League bullpen.
"People are fighting to push you out of the game," Lyon said, "and you have to keep fighting to stay in the game."
From 2006-12, Lyon made at least 60 appearances in six out of seven seasons, compiled a 3.59 ERA and spent two seasons -- '08 and '10 -- as a closer. With the Mets last season, though, he struggled through a 4.98 ERA, a 1.63 WHIP and a 1.77 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 34 1/3 innings.
Lyon never went on the disabled list last year, but he had a back issue he did not know how to deal with, which might have caused his average fastball velocity to drop to 88 mph in 2013 from 89.7 mph in 2012.
"I didn't know how to maintain it; I didn't know how to take care of it at all," Lyon said. "It didn't bother me, but I wasn't able to go out there and be 100 percent. I was guarding it more than pushing it. So I pushed it to see how it goes [in the offseason], and everything felt great."
Now Lyon, obtained Feb. 10, is competing with at least nine other relievers for two spots in the Angels' bullpen. Asked if he would be willing to go to the Minors if he does not win a job out of Spring Training, Lyon said: "I haven't really thought about that. My focus is here, to get ready for a Major League season. When the time comes, I'll think about that then."
Owner Moreno to Angels: Have fun
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arte Moreno addressed the entire team Wednesday morning prior to the Angels' first full workout, on the heels of a frustrating four-year absence from the playoffs.
The owner's words, simply: "Have fun."
The pre-practice meeting usually runs a little longer on the first day position players and pitchers are together. The entire front office and public-relations staff is in the room; everybody introduces themselves, and Moreno is usually in attendance.
The Angels' owner said he does not normally say anything that day but aims to convey a sense of calmness when he speaks -- no matter how affected he really is by sub-.500 seasons.
"Most people know me," Moreno said. "It might be the younger guys, or the guys we just picked up, but I go around the room and say hello to as many as I can. And during Spring Training, I always try to get over and talk to them a little bit, just so they're not intimidated by that. I tell them I go by my first name.
"I really try to be positive and optimistic. But don't get me wrong, everybody has areas on a team you look at and say, 'Where can I go? Who can we add, or what can we do to improve what you're trying to accomplish?'"
Angels easing Pujols in to Cactus League
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Albert Pujols had a normal offseason and has pronounced himself completely healthy, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia will not be playing him at first base on an everyday basis once Cactus League games start.
"He's not at that point," Scioscia said. "And we wouldn't do it anyway. If he felt great, there's no doubt about getting him in the flow in little bits. You're not going to just throw him out there and have him play 15 straight Spring Training games because he feels good, because I think by Game 16 you might be facing a problem."
Pujols, whose 2013 season ended after 99 games with a partial tear of his left plantar fascia, stayed mostly away from arduous activity Wednesday during the Angels' first full workout.
Scioscia said the goal was for Pujols to play first base "on a regular basis" when the season starts but that they would take it slow and have backup plans if the 34-year-old is not ready by Opening Day on March 31.
Veteran first baseman Carlos Pena is in camp, and his chances of making the team as a reserve could hinge largely on Pujols' health.
Raul Ibanez, the 41-year-old designated hitter who has spent the vast majority of his career in the outfield, will get plenty of reps this spring at first base -- a position he has not spent much time at since 2005.
"We'll see," Scioscia said of Ibanez playing first base. "We're not talking about on an everyday basis, but we'll see what his proficiency is, his comfort level, and hopefully we'll be able to tap into that."
• Special guest instructors for Angels Spring Training will include Chuck Finley (Feb. 17-21), Tim Salmon (Feb. 19-21), David Eckstein (Feb. 24-27 and March 17-20), Jim Abbott (March 10-13), Adam Kennedy (March 11-14), Garret Anderson (March 14-15) and Bobby Grich (March 15-20).
• Third baseman Luis Jimenez (from the Dominican Republic) and catcher Anderson De La Rosa (Venezuela) have yet to arrive in camp because of issues entering the country, but they are expected to report in the coming days.
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.