5/3/2014 4:27 A.M. ET
Green's added versatility gets him back in Majors
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- David Freese had come over from St. Louis, Erick Aybar was entrenched at shortstop and utilityman Andrew Romine was out of options, so Grant Green went into 2014 figuring he'd just stay at second base for the Angels, to start there in the Minor Leagues and be ready on the off chance Howie Kendrick was traded.
"I couldn't have been more wrong," Green said from the Angel Stadium clubhouse on Friday afternoon, shortly after being recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake.
Green started the season with the Salt Lake Bees, played two games at second base, then spent the rest of the time getting re-acclimated with the left side of the infield, playing a lot of shortstop and a little bit of third base.
A week ago, he was told he'd start playing left field, and Green didn't know what to think. He asked Triple-A manager Keith Johnson what was going on, and couldn't get an answer.
"You're kind of thinking, 'Did I not do a good job at third and short that they have to put me in the outfield now?'" Green said. "But as long as you're in this clubhouse over that one, I guess you're doing something right."
The Angels just wanted Green to be as versatile as possible to make him more appealing in the big leagues, and give them more options to get his bat in the lineup -- a bat that was responsible for a .349/.395/.505 slash line in 119 plate appearances in the Pacific Coast League.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he's "very comfortable" starting Green in left field, a position he spent 49 games at in the A's system in 2012. The 26-year-old right-handed hitter, acquired from Oakland in exchange for third baseman Alberto Callaspo last July, wasn't in the lineup against Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis, but will probably start on Saturday against Matt Harrison and most other lefties moving forward.
Left field figures to be Green's primary position with the Angels right now, but Scioscia said "his versatility is something that will come into play."
Green credited former Angels second baseman Bobby Grich for his success at the plate early on. The two met at a Make-A-Wish event, exchanged numbers and started working together in a local batting cage. Grich taught Green to finish his swing a little lower, which Green believes has "allowed me to stay on the plane of the ball a lot longer."
Left field "feels good," Green said.
Everything does in the big leagues.
"It was just getting used to not reacting right away; taking a couple seconds to see where the ball goes first," Green said. "But it felt fine. The throw's a little bit longer, the batter's a little further away. Other than that, it's the same."
Hamilton hoping to return sooner
ANAHEIM -- Josh Hamilton's thumb injury prevented him from playing in his team's first game against the Rangers and during his own bobblehead giveaway at Angel Stadium on Friday night.
But he's making steady progress, and fighting to be ahead of schedule.
The Angels' outfielder has full range of motion on his left thumb, which underwent surgery on April 11, and will meet with the doctor on Saturday in hopes of getting cleared to start throwing with a brace early next week.
Hamilton said his timeline and the medical department's timeline are "two totally different things" at the moment.
Asked who would win out, the 32-year-old left-handed hitter said: "Hopefully we can come to a compromise."
Hamilton's injury carried an initial timetable of six-to-eight weeks, which would fall anywhere from May 23 to June 6 post-op.
Hamilton, who took 95 swings off the tee with his bottom hand on Friday, feels he can start playing in rehab games in 10 to 14 days, from May 12-16. But he said Dr. Steven Shin, who performed the surgery, is reluctant to clear anyone for games before the six-week mark and has never had anyone return from Hamilton's injury -- complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament, along with a torn capsule -- in less than seven weeks.
"Honestly I feel like in another week and a half or two weeks I'll be good," Hamilton said, "because I'm doing everything I need to do as far as staying in shape."
Angels' Kendrick taking more walks
ANAHEIM -- Howie Kendrick swears he isn't looking for walks, but he sure is doing a lot more of it these days.
Heading into the weekend series against the Rangers, the Angels' veteran second baseman -- batting in the leadoff spot for the third straight game -- had drawn 12 walks, which is already more than half of his total for all of last season (23) and more than a third of the way towards his career high (33 in 2011).
From 2010-13, Kendrick had a walk percentage of 4.8. Through the first month of this year, it's 9.7 percent.
"If you can have more walks, it can be beneficial," said Kendrick, who has a .296/.382/.417 slash line in his first 27 games. "But at the same time, I'm not going up looking to walk, if that makes any sense. I want to go up and hit, ideally. I want to hit. Walking is not a bad thing, and if that's a product of not getting anything to hit, then yeah, I'll take the walks, too. But if you ask any hitter in here, they're not going up trying to take a walk."
De La Rosa has 'very impressive' outing
ANAHEIM -- Angels reliever Dane De La Rosa was "very impressive" while throwing in an extended spring game in Arizona on Thursday, Mike Scioscia said prior to Friday's series opener against the Rangers.
De La Rosa, the 31-year-old right-hander who's rehabbing from irritation in his right s/c joint, is "very close" to starting a rehab assignment and "his velocity is significantly better right now," the Angels' skipper added.
That's an encouraging sign, given recent history.
De La Rosa battled a right forearm strain in Spring Training, but recovered quickly and was throwing well -- until he made his 2014 debut on April 12. De La Rosa's average fastball velocity was 88.3 mph during that one-third-of-an-inning outing -- it was 94.6 mph last year -- and the Angels couldn't pinpoint why, ultimately placing him on the disabled list.
"I think there were some of the physical issues he was dealing with that needed to be worked out, and I think he's hopefully over that hurdle," Scioscia said. "Hopefully he'll get good outings from him now and see him here in a reasonable amount of time."
Freese exits after getting hit by pitch
ANAHEIM -- David Freese suffered a small, non-displaced fracture in his right middle finger on a hit by pitch on Friday night, a postgame X-ray confirmed. Speaking after the Angels' 5-2 loss, the veteran third baseman was hopeful of avoiding a stint on the disabled list, but it'll hinge largely on how he feels over the weekend.
"It's going to be one of those things where I'll come in tomorrow and the next day and see where I'm at," Freese said. "If you're going to get a slight fracture, it's in a good spot. I guess that's a positive way to look at it. We'll know more tomorrow and the next day, how I react."
Freese suffered the injury in the bottom of the third, when he took a fastball from Rangers starter Colby Lewis off his right hand. He jogged to first base and briefly stayed in the game, after getting checked on by the Angels' medical department, but was replaced by Ian Stewart at third base for the top of the fourth.
The 31-year-old is batting .202, but he has six hits in his last 13 at-bats. His injury -- like Josh Hamilton's and Kole Calhoun's -- comes at a time when he's getting hot offensively.
"I was starting to feel it a little bit," Freese said, "but I think I figured out a few things that when I come back, hopefully I can jump back into it -- whether it is a week or after a DL stint. But it was nice to see things come together, for sure."
• The Angels and GovX.com have launched an online verification ticketing service exclusive to members of the U.S. Military, law-enforcement personnel and first responders to prove specially priced Angels tickets for 2014. More information for qualified fans can be found at angels.com/govx. The Angels will offer up to 50 percent off select home games.
• With reliever Yoslan Herrera getting optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake and utility man Grant Green coming up, the Angels are back to having the traditional 13 position players and 12 pitchers. "We got through the day off, and we're going to have another day off next Thursday. We feel like hopefully with the offensive side, especially with a right-handed bat, is something that will really help us."
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.