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ANGELS FYI

Rich Thompson makes a pitch for spot in Angels' bullpen

Right-hander is doing well in spring-training games and the club has a tough decision to make because he is out of options.

March 14, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Angels pitcher Rich Thompson works against the Rangers in a spring training game two weeks ago.
Angels pitcher Rich Thompson works against the Rangers in a spring training… (Jake Roth / US Presswire )

Reporting from Tempe, Ariz.

Right-hander Rich Thompson is making a strong case that he deserves one of the final two spots available in the Angels bullpen this season.

In his latest outing, Monday in a "B" squad game with the Colorado Rockies, Thompson set the side down in order on three ground balls and has yet to give up a run in five spring appearances.

"We see what he's done. We see the progress from where he was even two years ago to where he is now," said Manager Mike Scioscia, who will make the call on whether Thompson stays or goes. "He's throwing the ball very well this camp."

Brandon Wood has Tim Salmon in his corner

If the Angels open the season with 12 pitchers, there are as many as five right-handers in contention for the last two spots — Thompson, Francisco Rodriguez, Trevor Bell, Matt Palmer and Michael Kohn, all of whom pitched at least 13 games in the majors last season. Of the five, however, only Thompson and the hard-throwing Kohn have yet to be scored upon this spring.

Also working in Thompson's favor is the fact the 26-year-old Australian is out of options, meaning the Angels can't send him down without putting him on waivers first.

"I don't know if you're ever comfortable. There's a lot of guys with good arms that may be younger than I or whatever that could take the position," he said. "I want to be here. This is all I know, since I was 17. You don't want to go somewhere else and have to relearn the ropes."

Search continues

The Angels scheduled a "B" game on their only day off this spring primarily to give left-hander Scott Kazmir an opportunity to throw. But they didn't see anything they haven't already seen this spring, with Kazmir again struggling for consistency in a rocky four-inning outing.

"We saw some things that look like he's getting more comfortable with and some things he's struggling with," Scioscia said. "His stuff is there. It's just not coming out consistently."

Kazmir gave up one run and two hits and three walks, striking out four. But those numbers don't tell the whole story because Kazmir needed 76 pitches to get through his four innings, throwing 24 pitches in each the first and third innings.

And he missed the strike zone 30 times.

"He's healthy. He's just working through some things, trying to get his delivery coordinated," Scioscia said. "He showed some flashes … today. [But] he's obviously trying to find something."

Roster moves

The Angels made another round of cuts Monday, reassigning 10 players to their minor league facility. Among the players cut were outfielder Mike Trout and infielder Jean Segura, the organization's No. 1 and No. 3 prospects, respectively, as well as first baseman Efren Navarro, the team's second-leading hitter this spring with a .438 average in 12 games.

Scioscia had hinted that cuts would be more extensive, but with several regulars slowed by nagging injuries and other ailments, the Angels apparently decided they needed a few extra bodies. The team has reassigned 17 players to minor league camp in the last week, leaving them with 47 on their spring-training roster.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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