Running down the rosters: Los Angeles Angels

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Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be projecting 25-man rosters for each of the 30 teams. I’m starting today with the Angels.

The winter’s biggest spenders, the Angels are now again poised to threaten a Rangers team that appeared to be in pretty good position to set up its own little mini-dynasty in the AL West. Texas still has more depth and minor league talent to play with, but the Angels have the better rotation and now arguably the game’s best hitter anchoring the lineup.

Rotation
Jered Weaver – R
Dan Haren – R
C.J. Wilson – L
Ervin Santana – R
Jerome Williams – R

Bullpen
Jordan Walden – R
Scott Downs – L
Hisanori Takahashi – L
LaTroy Hawkins – R
Rich Thompson – R
Bobby Cassevah – R
Trevor Bell – R

SP next in line: Garrett Richards (R), Bell, Brad Mills (L), Eric Hurley (R)
RP next in line: Kevin Jepsen (R), Michael Kohn (R), Francisco Rodriguez (R)

The Angels would still like to add one more reliever, probably Luis Ayala. Scott Linebrink is another possible fit. It’s disappointing that they haven’t picked up any quality rotation insurance. Mills, who was acquired from the Jays for Jeff Mathis, doesn’t really qualify. Their big four starters have stayed remarkably healthy lately, but there’s always the chance one will go down, and Williams is far from a sure thing in the fifth spot.

Lineup
SS Erick Aybar – R
2B Howie Kendrick – R
1B Albert Pujols – R
DH Kendrys Morales – S
RF Torii Hunter – R
LF Vernon Wells – R
3B Alberto Callaspo – S
C Chris Iannetta – R
CF Peter Bourjos – R

Bench
C Bobby Wilson – R
1B-3B Mark Trumbo – R
INF Maicer Izturis – S
OF Bobby Abreu – L

Next in line: C Hank Conger (S), INF Alexi Amarista (L), INF Andrew Romine (S), OF Mike Trout (R), OF Ryan Langerhans (L)

Obviously, that projection hinges on both Morales (ankle) and Trumbo (foot) being healthy for Opening Day. Morales’ status is still very much in doubt. If Morales starts off on the DL, then Abreu and Trumbo figure to platoon in the DH spot, opening up a place for Langerhans on the bench.

If Morales does prove healthy, then there’s the chance the Angels will send Trumbo down with the idea of playing him at third regularly. He’ll get reps at the hot corner this spring, but it’s doubtful that he’ll manage to overtake Callaspo or Izturis on the depth chart there right away.

It’s clear that the Angels expect to start Trout off in the minors. Perhaps that would change if he swims circles around Wells this spring, but I doubt it.

There will be a battle between Wilson and Conger for the backup catcher gig. Since Iannetta figures to play plenty, the Angels will probably send Conger down and let him start in Triple-A. I’m pretty sure Conger would be able to help while catching twice a week and DHing another once or twice, but the Angels won’t have that kind of playing time open for him.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.