Saunders aware of role with club

first_imgTEMPE, Ariz. – Joe Saunders is resigned to having his fate tied to Bartolo Colon’s recovery from rotator cuff problems. Barring any additional injuries, of course, Saunders will be a starter for the Angels as long as Colon is sidelined. When Colon returns, Saunders will pack his bags for Triple-A Salt Lake. “I think they look at me as a starter, in my mind,” Saunders said. “They’re like, `We don’t want to mess you up.”‘ Never one to give away too much of the organization’s thought process, manager Mike Scioscia essentially confirmed the plan with Saunders. There seems to be no value to having the 25-year-old pitch in relief. “The sixth guy of any organization as far as starter unless it’s a spot-start thing is usually in Triple-A stretched out,” Scioscia said. “That’s usually the best-case scenario.” Saunders’ impressive rookie season took a backseat to the accomplishments of Jered Weaver. Saunders went 7-3 in 13 starts, although he did post a relatively lofty 4.71 ERA that could be blamed on rocky starts against the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox. In those three outings, which accounted for Saunders’ only defeats of the season, he gave up 22 earned runs. In his other 10 outings he gave up a total of 15 earned runs. The Angels already have made sure Saunders knows the team’s plans, which are not always a given in baseball circles like they would seem. There will be no stints in the bullpen for Saunders, who is essentially serving the role of sixth starter. center_img Scioscia has been asked for a glimpse of what the ideal lineup will look like and he has talked around the subject, other than to say Orlando Cabrera will bat second. Gary Matthews Jr. looks to be the obvious leadoff hitter, but Scioscia refuses to confirm that, saying there still are plans to use him as protection for the middle of the lineup. The predicted opening-day lineup: Matthews CF, Cabrera SS, Garret Anderson LF, Vladimir Guerrero RF, Shea Hillenbrand DH, Howie Kendrick 2B, Casey Kotchman 1B, Mike Napoli C and Figgins 3B. Like shortstop Brandon Wood, who has started taking grounders at third base, the other talented shortstop prospect in the organization is learning to become more versatile. Erick Aybar took ground balls at second base Friday and will get some time in center field this spring. The pressure is on Cabrera at shortstop more than it has been in recent seasons since the Angels will have such a young and inexperienced infield that includes Figgins, Howie Kendrick and Casey Kotchman or Kendry Morales. “Any year what he brings is important, but this year it has the potential to be a real keystone for what we hope is going to be a dynamic infield,” Scioscia said. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2731 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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