Notes: Garland ready for money pitch
Shortstop battle leaves Scioscia with roster options
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jon Garland's early spring numbers are good, and the right-hander hasn't even dusted off his money pitch yet.
His change is coming soon to a pitching mound near you. And as a double-feature, he's working on a new grip for his curveball."The change is a big pitch for me during the season, and I'd like to start throwing that more," Garland said after an efficient three-inning outing against the Chicago White Sox on Friday. "I didn't throw any today because I felt good the way Jeff [Mathis] was calling pitches. He was good for catching me for the first time." Garland may experiment with the change in different situations when he makes his next start, which likely arrives next Wednesday when the Kansas City Royals travel to Tempe. In the meantime he'll be working on his curveball and a grip that Angels manager Mike Scioscia suggested.
"My curve has never been that good," Garland said. "I'd throw maybe four or five a game. It wasn't a pitch hitters had to worry about."For the time being, he's getting used to the new grip, but thinks he might be able to throw a handful of them next week. "It feels weird in my hand just holding it," Garland said. "I'd like to tone it up and make it better to give the hitters one more thing to think about." With John Lackey's availability to open the season in question, Garland wouldn't hesitate to start on Opening Day. "It's an honor just to put on this uniform and play in this league," said Garland, who has never gotten the Opening Day call in his six previous full seasons with the Chicago White Sox. "I'd definitely take it. It would be a great honor. It doesn't really matter to me where I pitch. I plan to be out there every fifth day." Short takes on the shortstop : Maicer Aybar? Erick Izturis? It could get that confusing at the shortstop position this season. And that would be just fine with Scioscia. As Maicer Izturis glanced at Friday's lineup card a few hours before game time, someone asked him if he thought he had the job locked down. He smiled, shook his head and went back to studying the lineup. There's a number of factors involved, including the option of playing one of the two at a different position, and Scioscia only wants them both to reach their potential.
"They're both having terrific springs on the practice fields and in games," Scioscia said. "We're comfortable with where they are. They both give us the defense we need in our infield and we'll go from there."Interestingly enough, both Erick Aybar and Izturis have more experience at other positions. Aybar has played more Major League games at second base, and Izturis has more experience at third base. "Hopefully they both play to their level," Scioscia said. "It's a situation where they both have ability and the talent to play every day. It gives us as many options as possible." They've both played three infield positions and in the outfield, which also means Scioscia could go with an extra pitcher if needed, especially with Chris Bootcheck and Scott Shields both having troubles this spring. "These guys are depth at other positions," he said. "If the two turn out to be interchangeable, depth is created quickly and it gives us two dynamic shortstops." Squeeze plays: The Angels reassigned catchers Hank Conger and Anel De Los Santos and infielder Ryan Mount to their Minor League camp. ... OF Terry Evans was hit by a pitch in the second inning and was replaced by Peter Bourjos in the third. "It was precautionary," Scioscia said. "He got hit just above the elbow and we want to make sure it doesn't swell up." ... Right-hander Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless inning in his first spring appearance, needing 12 pitches to get through three hitters. He struck out two.
Up next: The Angels will send lefty Joe Saunders to the mound in Tempe, Ariz., to take on the San Francisco Giants and righty Brad Hennessey on Saturday at 12:05 p.m. PT. The split-squad going to Tucson to take on the Colorado Rockies will be led by righty Dustin Moseley. He's opposed by righty Ubaldo Jimenez.
Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.