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Is Angels' Ariel Pena the new K-Rod?

March 14, 2012|By Lance Pugmire
  • Angels pitcher Ariel Pena, throwing during a workout Feb. 22, has given up just one hit and struck out five in five innings of work and could provide late-season bullpen help.
Angels pitcher Ariel Pena, throwing during a workout Feb. 22, has given… (Morry Gash / Associated…)

Tempe, Ariz. — Ariel Pena is not expected to stick on the Angels’ opening-day roster, but the 22-year-old Dominican pitcher gives the team a live arm to call upon should later circumstances require such help.

Pena on Tuesday pitched three hitless innings in relief of Dan Haren, securing a shutout of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“He’s probably, of all the things I’ve seen in camp, one of the brightest youngsters we can talk about,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s hit 95 [mph], shows terrific poise, command and his exceptional changeup hasn’t come out as much as it will. He’s shown he has a terrific future.”

Pena last year went 10-6 at Class-A Inland Empire, striking out 180 in 151-plus innings.

Tuesday, in his second spring appearance, Pena struck out three in three innings. He’s given up just one hit in five innings of work, with five strikeouts.

It was a similar script in 2002 for the Angels, who called upon young, late-season call-up Francisco Rodriguez to solidify the bullpen in the playoffs -- and win two World Series games. Pena says he knows the story.

“I could pitch here,” said Pena, scheduled to follow Haren again Sunday. “I feel good, my body’s strong.

“They say to throw down, attack the zone, concentrate and focus. That’s what I do.”

MORALES’ SCHEDULE: Recovering designated hitter Kendrys Morales appears headed to debut later this week in a minor-league game, Scioscia said.

Morales, returning from two ankle surgeries after fracturing the bone in May 2010, experienced tightness in his calf after running bases Sunday and Monday. He took batting practice and played catch Wednesday.

“He’s running with more energy, the ankle’s feeling better, he’s just getting the muscles in shape to fire like they need to in a game,” Scioscia said.

TROUT UPDATE: Top Angels’ prospect Mike Trout kept a routine doctor’s appointment Wednesday morning to address the mysterious flu-like symptoms that caused him to lose 10 pounds earlier in camp.

“I feel fine,” Trout said.

The 20-year-old outfielder was scheduled to make his spring debut Tuesday but was scratched after saying he experienced tightness in his right leg after late-morning running.

Trout ran again Wednesday, making infield cuts and going through agility training, and said with the trainers’ approval he should be ready to play possibly as soon as Thursday against the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

Trout, a first-round draft pick in 2009, batted .326 with 13 triples, 11 home runs and 33 stolen bases last season at Double-A Arkansas, then hit .220 in 123 at-bats with the Angels.

ECKSTEIN ENDORSEMENT: Former Angels infielder David Eckstein has spent a month as a special assistant coach, helping younger infielders.

The popular member of the 2002 World Series champions said his wife, Ashley, is suceeding in business after starting her own Her Universe brand of science fiction-themed clothing for women.

“We’ll go to Comic-Con and all that,” Eckstein said. “It’s real interesting.”

Eckstein said his wife has clothing printed in Simi Valley and sells "Star Wars"- and SyFy network-branded clothing at Disneyland and Disney World while “getting close” to a major deal with a retail chain.

Is the husband lending his name to the business?

“No, there’s not much crossover there,” he said.

ON THE MEND: Backup catcher Bobby Wilson said the quadriceps tightness that pulled him from Saturday’s game has subsided and he should be ready to play by Friday.

RELATED:

Angels show an intensity in early-spring games

Kendrys Morales gets the runaround, in a good way

Angels' Dan Haren has whiff of success against Arizona

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter.com/latimespugmire

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