Angels outfielder Bobby Abreu loosens up before batting practice early… (Ross D. Franklin / Associated…)
Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. -- It's not a good spring when you've had half as many closed-door meetings with the manager and general manager (two) as hits (four) in 12 games.
Those were Bobby Abreu's sad statistics Saturday after the veteran outfielder was summoned by Manager Mike Scioscia and General Manager Jerry Dipoto to explain comments criticizing the team to a Spanish-language publication.
Abreu, 38, was quoted by the Venezuelan paper Lider en Deportes as saying he didn't put a lot of stock in Scioscia's prediction that he would get 400 plate appearances this season.
"I've learned not to have much confidence in these people, but I hope they live up to what they told me," Abreu said. "How long am I going to have to continue proving to people what I am and what I'm able to do?"
Scioscia said Abreu's comments "were recycled from a month ago — that's how he explained it. Believe me, it's not an issue."
Dipoto declined to comment specifically about Abreu's quotes, saying, "I'm not going to do anything to make this a public spat. Bobby understands the situation. … No question, we feel we've been upfront with him."
Abreu spent most of 2011 as a designated hitter, batting a career-low .253 with eight home runs and 60 runs batted in.
With the outfield (Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos, Torii Hunter) set, first baseman Albert Pujols pushing slugger Mark Trumbo to more of a utility role and Kendrys Morales poised to assume DH duties, there appears to be little need for Abreu.
Unhappy with his diminished role, Abreu began camp saying he preferred to be traded if he wasn't going to play every day, comments that got him called into the manager's office in February.
The 16-year veteran hasn't enhanced his stock with the Angels or potential suitors this spring, making more noise with his mouth than his bat. Abreu is hitting .121 (four for 33) with one RBI in Cactus League play.
Abreu's $9-million salary and declining skills make him virtually impossible to trade, so the Angels may have no choice but to release him if he continues to struggle and to be a distraction.
"Bobby is a veteran player, he knows how to get himself in game shape," Dipoto said. "He hasn't had a great spring, but … we're trusting a veteran's ability to prepare himself."
Dipoto essentially shot down an Internet rumor that the Angels have emerged as front-runners to sign free-agent Roy Oswalt, a 34-year-old right-hander who hopes to play by midseason.
Dipoto said he's "not particularly" in the market for starting pitching, adding that he's "quite happy with the way our starting pitchers have thrown this spring."
Dipoto said right-hander David Pauley, who signed a minor league contract Friday, will be stretched out as a starter at triple-A Salt Lake to add rotation depth.
Pauley, 28, is 4-12 with a 5.45 earned-run average in 20 career starts and 5-6 with a 3.32 ERA in 61 relief appearances.
"His perfect role is more of a swingman type," Dipoto said. "We feel that's the best role for him here."
Speedy outfield prospect Jeremy Moore, sidelined all spring because of a bone spur in his left hip, has opted to have surgery, which will require a recovery period of three to five months.