Former Milwaukee Brewers infielder Bill Hall makes a throw from his knees. (Morry Gash / Associated…)
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Veteran utility player Bill Hall said he lost about 20 pounds this winter “to get my body looking more like a prototypical guy who could play shortstop,” but his chances of making the Angels won’t hinge on his ability to step in for Erick Aybar at the position.
“Second base and third will be important for him, and he can play the outfield, but I don’t know too much about shortstop,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ll see where his talent lines up. I don’t want to get into the roster now, but there’s definitely going to be an opportunity for Bill to help us. He has some pop.”
Hall, 33, hit .270 with 35 home runs and 85 runs batted in for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2006, starting 126 games at shortstop that season, but his career has tailed off dramatically since.
The Angels are Hall’s seventh team in five years, and he has appeared in only 69 major league games over the last two seasons. He has started three games at shortstop since 2006.
But with longtime utility player Maicer Izturis signing a free-agent deal with Toronto and outfielder Vernon Wells and backup catcher Hank Conger the only apparent locks for the bench, the right-handed-hitting Hall felt the Angels were a good fit.
He signed a minor league deal in late January, but because he has has more than six years of big-league service time, he will receive a $100,000 bonus if he is not on the 25-man roster by March 26.
“I felt this was a good opportunity for me, a chance to get back on track,” Hall said. “I worked my tail off to get to where I am now. I have to keep myself in good shape, stay focused, and let the game come to me. I have to stop pressing to try to get back to where I was in 2006.”
Hall said he’s willing to play at triple-A Salt Lake if he is not on the opening-day roster, but even if the Angels go with a four-man bench, there appears to be room for a utility infielder such as Andrew Romine, Luis Rodriguez and Tommy Field, who can all play shortstop, and Hall, who has played little shortstop lately.
“He has a bat that can be explosive off the bench or in a utility role,” Scioscia said. “He’s an experienced guy who has played on good teams, and he understands what his role would be on the club. He still runs well. We’ll see how it goes.”
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