Conventional wisdom this spring had three pitchers fighting for the fifth spot in the Angels' rotation. But right-hander Mark Gubicza's nagging shoulder soreness could mean two job openings by opening day.
"We don't know when Mark Gubicza's next start will be," Manager Terry Collins said. "If he's not ready, we could be talking about needing two starters."
Gubicza, whose only appearance this spring was March 2, played catch Monday. But he's not expected to pitch for at least another week.
"When he is back on the mound, he'll be starting from scratch," Collins said. "I don't know if you can miss seven or eight days of camp and bounce right back. You've got to start back slowly."
Jim Abbott, Jason Dickson and Shigetoshi Hasegawa had been battling for the fifth spot. It now appears they are the candidates for the fourth and fifth spots. So far, Dickson has been the most impressive of the three.
Hasegawa turned in a lackluster performance in his first start and third appearance, needing 76 pitches to get through his scheduled four-inning outing against San Francisco. He gave up two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
"When his control is not there, he's going to run into problems because he's not going to throw the ball by people," Collins said of Hasegawa, 0-2 with a 6.75 earned-run average in three games.
Hasegawa had runners on base in each of his four innings but called his appearance against the Giants his best this spring.
"Before, my idea was to pitch to corner, corner, corner [of the plate]," he said. "Today, my idea is make first pitch a strike. My fastball is getting better. I have confidence in my slider. My sinker ball is good."
Second baseman Randy Velarde sprained his right elbow making a practice throw from the outfield Sunday and is expected to be sidelined three to four days. . . . Outfielder Kevin Bass has an inflamed Achilles' tendon and his status is day-to-day. . . . Catchers Todd Greene and Jim Leyritz have sore arms. . . . Greene hit a bases-empty homer in the Angels' 5-2 loss to the Giants. "Terry is giving every player here a chance to prove themselves," said Greene, third on the catching depth chart. "I definitely have gotten more of a look than I did last year." . . . Abbott, who pitched three shutout innings against the Giants in his last start last Thursday, faces Oakland in a split-squad game today. Left-hander Allen Watson faces the Chicago Cubs in the other game.