5/5/2014 9:57 P.M. ET
Ibanez's struggles allow room for Cron vs. righties
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- C.J. Cron batted cleanup for Monday's series opener against the Yankees, which says a lot about how well the power-hitting prospect has fared against Major League pitching early on. But it may say even more about Raul Ibanez's struggles in general.
The left-handed-hitting Ibanez sat against an opposing right-hander -- in this case David Phelps -- for just the fourth time all year, due in large part to a .144/.222/.289 slash line through his first 27 games. If that continues, the 24-year-old Cron -- with five hits in his first nine Major League at-bats heading into Monday -- could take away a lot more of Ibanez's at-bats at designated hitter.
But Angels manager Mike Scioscia downplayed that notion pregame.
"Raul's going to play," Scioscia said. "We need him to find his way and hit. But on occasional days, we're going to mix and match a little bit. We'll let Raul exhale a little bit and relax and get back in there. C.J. is obviously swinging the bat well. We're going to try to find room in our lineup for guys that are swinging the bat well, and right now, he is."
Ibanez, 41, is hitless in his last four starts and has struck out 30 times, with a strikeout percentage of 30.3 that's on pace to easily top his career high (25.8 percent, set last season). But Ibanez has historically been a slow starter -- his .756 career OPS in April is his lowest of any month -- and Scioscia said Ibanez is fine physically.
He's just searching for some timing.
"He's trying to find his rhythm in the box," Scioscia said. "Sometimes he's a little up front, sometimes he's a little behind, sometimes he's swinging at some pitches that are a little bit out of the zone. There's probably a lot of factors to look at why he's struggling, and all that being said, his production numbers are still good. The number of guys he's driven in  is what you're looking for. He's hit some key home runs for us. It's definitely in there. He'll find it."
Halos bolster bullpen with righty Rasmus
ANAHEIM -- The Angels went back to a three-man bench for the second time in five days on Monday, calling up right-handed reliever Cory Rasmus and sending down third baseman Luis Jimenez.
Such is life without a traditional long reliever.
The Angels needed the extra arm after five relievers compiled 6 1/3 innings in Sunday's blowout loss to the Rangers. Rasmus, the 26-year-old who was acquired from the Braves for Scott Downs last July, had a 2.76 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 12 appearances in Triple-A Salt Lake and is capable of pitching more than one inning if necessary.
Ian Stewart figures to get the vast majority of the playing time at third base until David Freese returns from a non-displaced fracture in his right middle, perhaps as soon as May 18 if all goes right. John McDonald and Grant Green are also options at the hot corner, though Green will get a lot of action in left field.
With J.B. Shuck in Triple-A, and Josh Hamilton and Kole Calhoun on the disabled list, the Angels are down to four outfielders. One of them (Green) is a natural infielder; another (Raul Ibanez) is 41 years old and normally a designated hitter.
Pujols happy to DH in order to keep healthy
ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols was back at first base on Monday, after spending the previous two games at designated hitter while nursing some tightness in his right hamstring.
Pujols initially hurt his hamstring while fielding a throw from Hector Santiago on Friday, then felt it grab on him while taking grounders at first base prior to Saturday's game and told Angels manager Mike Scioscia it would be best to use him at DH for a couple days.
Pujols said the injury wasn't serious, and that he would've played first base if it were a National League game, but the important point here is that he doesn't have to. Being able to utilize the DH spot whenever minor leg ailments pop up is an important avenue to keep the 34-year-old fresh for the long term.
"Definitely," said Pujols, who entered the series opener against the Yankees with a .287/.353/.598 slash line to go along with 10 homers and 25 RBIs. "You have to be smart. I've had other ailments in my legs. I don't want to have to tweak my knee or my plantar fasciitis. I need to be smart with that, protecting my hamstrings. It was something that I thought these two days could be a benefit, and they were."
Jeter: Trout 'can beat you in every way'
ANAHEIM -- The Southern California media learned two things about retiring Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter on Monday: He doesn't like the term "farewell tour," and he doesn't believe "hype" is an accurate description for what surrounds Mike Trout.
"I don't like the word hype around him," Jeter said prior to the opener of his final regular-season series at Angel Stadium. "It's all deserved. He can do everything. He can beat you in every way."
Trout grew up a Phillies fan in South New Jersey, but he idolized Jeter while growing up a shortstop, and told Jeter as much when the two met during the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City.
"It makes you feel good as a player when you have guys that come up and appreciate how you play the game, but he has a very, very bright future," Jeter said of Trout. "He's got a bright present, too."
Bright enough that the world has basically identified Trout, 22, as the new face of baseball; as the guy who will take the proverbial torch from Jeter and be the guy fans most identify with in this game.
Asked what sticks out most about Trout, Jeter, who will be honored by the Angels prior to Wednesday's game, said, "I don't think you pick one thing."
"It seems like he has a desire to keep improving," the Yankees' captain added. "He doesn't play the game like he knows he has it made. He plays hard. He runs every ball out, which when you've had the success like he's had for a couple of years, you like to see that. You like to see guys who play the game the right way."
• Dane De La Rosa (right s/c joint irritation) threw a scoreless inning in Salt Lake on Sunday, giving up one walk and no hits. Scioscia said De La Rosa's velocity "wasn't where it was a couple days ago, but still good. It's definitely a step forward." De La Rosa will have at least one more rehab outing.
• Sean Burnett, still recovering from August 2013 elbow surgery, threw in yet another extended spring training game in Arizona on Monday, and Scioscia said he "looked good." Burnett could start a rehab assignment after completing another one of those outings.
• Freese took ground balls with one hand on Monday and said his right middle finger, which suffered a non-displaced fracture on Friday, "feels better." He still can't hit or throw.
• Right fielder Calhoun (sprained right ankle) took live batting practice prior to Monday's game, and Scioscia said Calhoun's close to being able to jog on the field.
• Pujols took a Yu Darvish fastball to the front of his helmet on Sunday, but said he felt perfectly fine on Monday and didn't require any concussion tests.
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.