8/31/2014 2:26 A.M. ET
Pujols earning raves for defense at first base
By Matthew DeFranks / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Two plays, four innings apart, made a case for Albert Pujols' Gold Glove campaign.
In the third inning Friday night, Pujols started a pretty, inning-ending 3-6-3 double play, and in the seventh, he pulled down a high throw and nearly recorded the out with a behind-the-back tag at first. Just another day on the job for the two-time Gold Glove Award winner.
"Albert's playing Gold Glove-caliber first base," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're a better team when he plays first base. I think just the 3-6-3 or 3-6-1 double plays that we've had, the ability to get his range into the four-hole, and he's feeling much better physically than he has the last couple of years. He's bouncing around like he can. This guy's a Gold Glove first baseman."
The advanced metrics agree with Scioscia.
According to FanGraphs, Pujols ranks first among qualified American League first basemen with an 8.1 Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 innings played, which measures a player's value on defense in runs. The next closest UZR/150 is Mike Napoli's 5.7 mark.
Pujols ranks second among AL first basemen with a .825 Revised Zone Rating (the proportion of balls hit in a player's zone that are converted into outs) and second with eight double plays started.
The 34-year-old has only committed two errors this season and owns a .998 fielding percentage, the best among AL first basemen.
Angels to rely on depth for rotation vacancy
ANAHEIM -- Most teams have their rotation and they have their bullpen.
But for the Angels, the lines between the two will start to blur in an effort to fill their fifth rotation spot, relying on a number of pitchers to get through a game instead of one starter pitching deep.
"You definitely want get somebody that is doing a job that can give you some kind of length as a starter, even if it's only five innings," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "If that surfaces, great. If it doesn't, then you mix and match as much as you need to."
The fifth spot, left vacant by Garrett Richards' season-ending injury, will likely have to be filled from within the organization, with general manager Jerry Dipoto saying any expectations of a trade would be "very unrealistic."
Instead, the Angels will rely on a deep bullpen and expanded rosters to piece every fifth game together once the calendar flips to September.
"This would be an extremely difficult thing to do but that fact that we're two days away from spreading out the roster, we can be a little bit more creative with how we deal with it," Dipoto said. "If every fifth day, we manage to cobble a game together with a variety of arms instead of just one guy every fifth day, that's probably the most likely outcome."
On Saturday, the last start for this slot before rosters expand to 40 players in September, the Angels turned to Cory Rasmus. He made his first Major League start five days after throwing a career-high 51 pitches in relief.
Scioscia said there was "no doubt" that the spot could belong to Rasmus if he pitches well enough to deserve it.
"If it becomes more of a staff and more of a start-to-start decision, then so be it," Scioscia said. "If it comes where one guy is more comfortable and he's out there doing what he can do, then that's obviously preferable, but sometimes it doesn't always happen."
In the wake of injuries to Richards and Tyler Skaggs (Tommy John surgery), the Angels were left short-staffed and undermanned in the heat of a pennant race. Would Dipoto try to bolster the rotation with a trade for a veteran starter?
"As you might expect, [it's] not easy and I'm not shocked that it's not easy," Dipoto said. "We like the group we have, I've said it all along. We've felt like we've had depth."
The club could add depth on Monday, when pitchers Vinnie Pestano, Cam Bedrosian, Michael Kohn and Drew Rucinski are eligible to move to the Angels' expanded roster. Left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher is also expected to return soon from an injured ankle.
Roth recalled for depth, lefty option in bullpen
ANAHEIM -- The Angels recalled left-hander Michael Roth from Double-A Arkansas on Saturday to add length and depth to the bullpen.
Roth, on his third stint with the club this season, had an 11-7 record and 2.62 ERA in 22 starts for Arkansas. In two Major League games this year, Roth has given up four runs in 6 2/3 innings.
The Angels optioned first baseman/outfielder Efren Navarro to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room for Roth.
"Just to get through today and tomorrow, we're going to need a little bit of length and Michael can provide it whenever it's needed," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Right now, Efren's a guy who was one of the very few moves we could make to get Michael up here. We need to keep the pitching depth for today. We'll reevaluate things after the day."
Roth threw seven shutout innings on Monday in Arkansas, meaning Saturday was his normal day in the rotation. He was the only left-hander in the Angels' bullpen on Saturday and could flip the platoon advantage against a lefty-heavy A's lineup.
Salt Lake's final game of the season is Monday, meaning Navarro could rejoin the Angels as soon as that day, when the Major League rosters expand for September.
• Mike Trout started Saturday at designated hitter as Josh Hamilton shifted over to center field and Collin Cowgill filled in at left. Manager Mike Scioscia said the half-day off was simply to help keep Trout fresh.
"There's a lot of focus on 28 games but it's still a grind, and we only have two more days off so you want to take advantage of getting some guys a little freshened up," Scioscia said.
• On Saturday, the Angels announced a two-year extension through 2016 of their affiliation with the Burlington Bees, their Class A team in the Midwest League. The Bees have been an Angels affiliate since 2012 and clinched a Wild Card spot in the Midwest's West Division this season.