3/19/2014 9:02 P.M. ET
Lefties Burnett, Moran still rehabbing injuries
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Angels loaded up on lefty relievers before the start of Spring Training, but could open the season with zero.
Sean Burnett continues to feel good in his recovery from August forearm surgery, throwing his fourth bullpen session on Wednesday, but still needs to complete several steps before being regular season ready. And Brian Moran, the lefty specialist who was picked up in the Rule 5 Draft, hasn't pitched in seven days because of tenderness in his pitching elbow, general manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed.
The Angels previously sent Buddy Boshers, Robert Carson and Clay Rapada to Minor League camp, leaving 24-year-old Nick Maronde -- initially slated to start the season in the Minors -- as the only other lefty reliever in Major League Spring Training.
Moran's injury isn't considered serious, though. He's day-to-day, and Dipoto said there's still a chance he can be ready by Opening Day. The only way the Angels can option Moran to the Minor Leagues is to offer him back to the Mariners, then slip him through waivers if Seattle declines. They can also keep him on the roster by putting him on the disabled list to start the season.
If Burnett, Moran and Dane De La Rosa (right forearm strain) all start the season on the DL, the Angels would have open bullpen spots.
They could turn to Maronde, or recall any of the other southpaws they already cut, in order to have at least one lefty reliever. Or they can go with an all-righty 'pen out of the gate, with Fernando Salas, Michael Kohn, Brandon Lyon and Cory Rasmus still in camp, and Joe Blanton potentially getting stashed in the bullpen temporarily.
Burnett continues to feel good with his rehab, though.
The 31-year-old threw 37 pitches on Wednesday morning and integrated changeups for the first time. Burnett still needs at least one other bullpen to mix in his breaking pitches, which he plans to do on Friday, then probably would have to face hitters in a scrimmage before appearing in a game.
But after Wednesday, the Angels have only 10 exhibition games left -- and time is running out for Burnett to be on the Opening Day roster.
"Mentally, I haven't accepted that yet," Burnett said. "I'm still going to go at it full-go. I don't make the decisions. I'm going to do what's in the best interest of myself. My job is to get ready for Opening Day and they make the call. I'll be ready whenever they let me play."
Angels finally get to debut everyday lineup
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Josh Hamilton was ready to play left field and the Angels were coming off an off-day, so manager Mike Scioscia was finally able to debut what's expected to be his everyday lineup at Camelback Ranch on Wednesday …
Kole Calhoun RF
Mike Trout CF
Albert Pujols 1B
David Freese 3B
Raul Ibanez DH
Howie Kendrick 2B
Chris Iannetta C
Erick Aybar, SS
"It's groupings that I think really work," Scioscia said before facing the White Sox, "and we feel like it has the potential to be a deep lineup."
Through six innings on Wednesday, the Angels' everyday lineup plated nine runs and scored in each frame. Pujols lined two doubles to right-center field, Trout hit a solo homer to left-center, Kendrick notched three hits, Calhoun had a couple, Hamilton and Freese contributed RBI singles, Iannetta had a run-scoring double and Aybar brought in a run with a suicide squeeze.
"We're going to score some runs," said Trout, who also took a breaking ball to his left wrist and stole second base two pitches later. "We just have to take it one day at a time and can't do what we did last year, obviously. We just have to do our jobs and keep our approach."
Last year, the Angels ranked seventh in the Majors in runs and fifth in OPS. They don't have Mark Trumbo in the middle of the order anymore, but Pujols is expected to be healthy after being limited to 99 games due to plantar fasciitis. Hamilton is expected to bounce back now that he's back at his customary 240 pounds.
Overall, Scioscia expects this year's group to be better.
"I think offensively, we're going to be able to do, hopefully, at least as much as last year and rebound off of that," Scioscia said. "The production wasn't quite what we think it could be last year."
The biggest improvements need to come with regards to situational hitting, which the Angels have stressed since the start of camp. The Angels finished tied for ninth in the Majors in batting average with runners in scoring position last year and batted .225 in that situation (tied for 23rd) in the first month.
"It picked up in the second half, but we struggled," Scioscia said. "There's always a focus on that, but I think that production is there when guys are in the game."
Skaggs still likely in rotation despite recent struggles
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Tyler Skaggs still looks primed to be the Angels' fifth starter out of Spring Training, but he hasn't necessarily impressed lately. Over his last 11 1/3 innings, the 22-year-old left-hander has allowed 11 runs. And on Wednesday against the White Sox, while giving up five runs in 4 1/3 innings, he admittedly didn't have command of anything.
"The command was definitely not what I wanted it to be," said Skaggs, who scattered seven hits, walked three and struck out two. "I made some good pitches in tough times, but one that you definitely build off as a learning experience today, kind of not going out there and having the command of any of my pitches."
The Angels scored eight runs in the first five innings, but Skaggs gave up three two-out runs in the third and two more in the fourth to put his Cactus League ERA at 6.14. As Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "We're not looking for statistical production; we're looking for him to be able to repeat pitches."
That was an area Skaggs particularly struggled with on Wednesday -- and he has two spring starts to fix it.
"He struggled," Scioscia said. "Repeating pitches was tough for Tyler, but he definitely showed the stuff. Hopefully as he starts getting into his length, he'll refine some things and show a little better command."
• Angels pitching prospect Luis Pena, an 18-year-old currently on the Dominican Summer League roster, was handed a 50-game suspension on Wednesday for testing positive for Boldenone, an anabolic steroid.
• Starter Garrett Richards pitched six full innings and gave up one run against the Cubs' Triple-A squad during the Angels' off-day on Tuesday. Richards, who threw 88 pitches, felt good the next day and was happy with his fastball command.
• Mike Trout took a first-pitch curveball from White Sox right-hander Erik Johnson to the left wrist on Wednesday. The Angels' center fielder then stole second base two pitches later and homered in his next at-bat. "I tried to catch it for some reason, like a Wiffle ball," Trout said of the pitch that hit him.
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.