3/21/2014 5:30 P.M. ET
Decision time draws close for non-roster veterans
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Decision time is nearing for some of the Angels' veteran non-roster invitees.
Catcher Yorvit Torrealba, corner infielder Chad Tracy and first baseman Carlos Pena can ask for their release if not added to the 40-man roster by Sunday. Utility infielder John McDonald must be paid an additional $100,000 to be kept off the 40-man roster after Tuesday. And outfielder Brennan Boesch has a "soft out" on March 30, which means he can only ask for his release if it's for an immediate Major League opportunity.
Third baseman Ian Stewart and reliever Brandon Lyon have opt-outs later in the season.
Of the seven, only McDonald appears to have a guaranteed roster spot, especially now that Andrew Romine (out of options) has been traded to the Tigers in exchange for left-hander Jose Alvarez.
Asked if Friday's deal makes McDonald the backup infielder, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto was non-committal, saying: "We'll get to that when we get to that."
But McDonald has had a nice spring, batting .320, and is solid defensively at three infield positions. McDonald's only remaining competition is Grant Green, a 26-year-old who provides more offense, but still needs seasoning defensively.
Burnett experiences setback during bullpen session
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels reliever Sean Burnett only got about halfway through his scheduled bullpen session on Friday morning because of stiffness in his left arm, the first setback in his return from August forearm surgery. He'll be shut down for at least two days.
Burnett, the 31-year-old lefty who was limited to 13 appearances last season, breezed through the previous four bullpen sessions and was introducing breaking pitches off a mound for the first time on Friday -- after only one day of rest, rather than his typical two.
Even without a setback, Burnett was already likely to start the season on the disabled list because he still has to face hitters and get into games. At the very least, this pretty much guarantees that Burnett will stay back for extended spring camp when the Angels return to Southern California on Thursday.
The Angels are hopeful that the latest ailment isn't serious, though, and are encouraged by the fact it took place outside of the area he was operated on. No MRI is currently planned.
"It's obviously a little setback right now," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "but I think just the big picture is it's in a different area, it doesn't look like it's anything directly related to what bothered him last year. Hopefully, we'll get some good news in a couple of days when it calms down and he resumes throwing."
Blanton to start; Santiago to face Minor Leaguers
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Joe Blanton is getting at least one more Spring Training showcase.
The 33-year-old right-hander -- owed an additional $8.5 million, with no perceivable role on the pitching staff -- will start for the Angels when they travel to Maryvale, Ariz., to face the Brewers on Saturday, while scheduled starter Hector Santiago will instead get his work done in a Minor League game.
Asked if the move was done to get a closer look at Blanton or to pitch Santiago in a controlled environment, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said: "It's both. We want both guys to get their work. Hector is obviously in our rotation. He needs to get up seven times, so that serves a purpose."
Blanton, coming off a 2-14 season with a 6.04 ERA, is not in the rotation. The 22-year-old Tyler Skaggs is expected to nail down the fifth spot, behind Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Santiago and Garrett Richards. And the Angels, who acquired additional pitching depth by trading for Tigers left-hander Jose Alvarez on Friday, are hopeful of trading Blanton to a team willing to absorb some of his remaining salary.
The Angels could temporarily stash Blanton in the bullpen to buy some time, but he isn't expected to spend the 2014 season as a long reliever.
"Let's get through this week and we'll see how things sort out," Scioscia said when asked if he can see Blanton become a swingman. "Any pitchers who are throwing the ball well, there are roles for them on our team. We'll see where Joe fits in."
Blanton gave up seven runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Rockies on March 7, then moved to the third-base side of the rubber for the first time in his career and saw better results, pitching five one-hit innings against the Rangers and then giving up three runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Cubs. All three of Blanton's starts have come on the road half of a split squad.
"I think the adjustments that he's made are a work in progress," Scioscia said, "but he got some pretty dramatic results the first time he did it, and he carried it over in the second start, too."
Dane De La Rosa (right forearm strain) planned on throwing off the mound for the first time on Friday, but Scioscia said it will come on Saturday.
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.