3/5/2014 6:15 P.M. ET
Angels to get visit from former NFL star Urlacher
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Former NFL middle linebacker and potential Pro Football Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher is expected to stop by Tempe Diablo Stadium to visit with the Angels on Friday morning.
Urlacher, a friend of longtime Angels athletic trainer Rick Smith, is an eight-time Pro Bowler who spent his entire 13-year career with the Chicago Bears. Urlacher, 35, retired at the end of the 2012 season and currently serves as an analyst for FOX Sports 1.
The Angels play their first split squad of the spring that day, hosting the Cubs and traveling to Salt River Fields to take on the Rockies. The Angels aren't sure what Urlacher will be doing in camp.
Healthy Pujols looking sharp on defense
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford hit a bullet to the right side, but when Jered Weaver turned around, there was Albert Pujols, diving full-extension to his right, fielding the short-hop cleanly and feeding the Angels' ace for a 3-1 putout that was one of two diving stops Wednesday for the $240 million first baseman.
"That's what we're used to seeing out of him," Weaver said after giving up two runs (one earned) in four innings during his second Cactus League start. "You can tell he feels good, feels healthy. He's a Gold Glove first baseman when he's feeling good, feeling healthy, and obviously we saw it on that play."
Pujols, coming off a season in which he was limited to 99 games because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot, has started at first base in four of the Angels' six Cactus League games -- and Wednesday was the most positive day so far.
Pujols traveled to play in back-to-back games for the first time this spring. He notched his first hit, singling up the middle to snap an 0-for-9 skid. And he made two diving plays at first base, robbing Crawford of a hit in the first and doing the same to Joaquin Arias in the sixth.
Weaver said the difference between Pujols in March 2013 and March 2014 is "night and day."
"Just the way he's running around, the way he's moving at first -- just walking in general, he looks more healthy," Weaver said. "I've been talking to him. He says he's feeling really good. Hopefully we can keep him at that level."
Angels reconsidering bullpen, utility infielder
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Two near-certainties at Angels camp were that Joe Blanton wouldn't make the team as a reliever and that the backup infielder job was basically a two-man race between John McDonald and Andrew Romine, the two guys who have Major League experience and can handle shortstop.
On Wednesday morning, Angels manager Mike Scioscia opened the door for alternative scenarios, starting Grant Green at shortstop at Scottsdale Stadium -- with Romine coming off the bench -- and raising the possibility of an eight-man bullpen, a move that could be done to make room for Blanton.
The reason for eight relievers, which would give the Angels only a three-man bench to open the season, is two-fold:
1. None of the three young starters projected to round out the rotation beyond Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson -- Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs -- have pitched a full season in a Major League rotation, which could necessitate an additional reliever.
2. It would give the Angels an avenue to keep Blanton, who's owed $8.5 million, can't be optioned to the Minor Leagues and may be useful to the club as a swingman and No. 6 starter.
"Our first focus is to get guys who can hold leads," Scioscia said. "If you look at our rotation, especially with some of the projected young guys who are trying to vie for positions, you're going to need to maybe hold some leads earlier when guys' pitch counts are getting away from them and you might have to go with some guys more. But we're still three weeks away from any decisions on that."
Green could challenge Romine and McDonald for the job as utility infielder if he proves he can handle shortstop and third base.
That's still a big question, though.
Green, acquired from the A's for Alberto Callaspo last July, is a better hitter than Romine and McDonald, but nowhere near as good a defender. He came up as a shortstop, but quickly moved out of the position, grew more comfortable at second base and has hardly played third base in his five-year pro career.
Green played six innings against the Giants and handled the only two routine grounders hit to him, charging one and ranging slightly to his left for the other.
"He had an unbelievable workout with [infield coach] Alfredo [Griffin] last week from the left side," Scioscia said. "He made some changes as far as getting his legs into the throw. His arm has more than he's shown. If he can carry it over into a game, he has the arm strength to play shortstop. There's no doubt he's in that mix."
• The Angels made their first cuts Wednesday, reassigning outfielder Zach Borenstein, right-hander Yeiper Castillo and left-hander Hunter Green to Minor League camp. Borenstein strained his left calf during a "B" game in Goodyear on Tuesday, but only expects to be out of action for a week.
• Catcher Anderson De La Rosa, the longtime Brewers farmhand obtained on a Minor League contract in January, has yet to report to Spring Training due to issues leaving his native Venezuela. The Angels aren't sure when to expect him, but it could be close to April by the time he arrives.
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.