Johnny Giavotella officially wins starting second base job with Angels

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The Angels made a host of moves after their game last night, which made it official that former Royals prospect Johnny Giavotella has secured the team’s starting second base job.

Josh Rutledge entered spring training as the frontrunner after coming over from the Rockies this offseason, but he batted just .192 (10-for-52) this spring and will begin the regular season in Triple-A. Prospect left-hander Andrew Heaney, who was acquired from the Dodgers for Howie Kendrick this winter, was also sent down after Friday’s game.

The 27-year-old Giavotella was acquired from the Royals for right-hander Brian Broderick in December and owns a .238/.277/.334 batting line over 465 plate appearances in the majors. That doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, but his playing time was sporadic with Kansas City and the Angels are clearly hoping that his solid minor league numbers will finally translate. He’s hitting .315/.373/.537 with one home run, five doubles, and two triples across 57 plate appearances this spring.

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.

Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.

Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”

Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.

Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.