There’s a catch to Angels’ depth

first_imgJose Molina, with his veteran status and $1.45 million guaranteed base salary this season, figures to make the roster. That means good friends Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli will fight it out for the other spot. Napoli would appear to have the inside track with more experience and a torrid offensive stretch on his resume. He batted .288 with 12 home runs and 29 RBIs in his first 50 games last season. So how do guys like Napoli and Mathis prepare for such an intense battle? It appears they each took a Zen-like approach this off-season. “I’m just coming in and relaxing and remembering the game is fun and playing it like I always have my whole life,” Mathis said. “Last year I just put a lot of pressure on myself, I think. I’m not saying that was the reason I played the way I played, but I think coming in relaxed and making the game fun is going to help.” TEMPE, Ariz. – The Angels’ battle at catcher this spring will not be just an interesting in-camp drama, it will be the envy of baseball. While most teams seem to struggle to simply find a backup, the Angels will have to choose between two of their three major-league capable catchers for the opening-day roster and send the other on his way, either to Triple-A Salt Lake or in a trade. As a former catcher himself, manager Mike Scioscia is charged up over the competition and has already rolled up his sleeves while getting to work with the catching crew. “If you look at other organizations and you do a depth check, we’ve got to be at the top of the list in all of baseball,” Scioscia said. “I’m not taking something away from some of the guys, (the Minnesota Twins’ Joe) Mauer and a lot of these great young catchers that are in the game today, but our depth sets us apart from a lot of organizations.” center_img Napoli has a similar approach. “I actually got home (from last season) and took a month off to mentally and physically get away from the game a little bit just relax,” Napoli said. “Coming into this year we have three good catchers here so I’m just going to go out and play the game and whatever happens, happens.” For Molina, his sights are set on the opening-day job. “I have too much other stuff to worry about than what they will do with them and what they will do with me,” Molina said. “I feel good. I’m healthy and that’s the main thing. When you’re healthy you can do a lot of stuff.” Unlike at first base where Scioscia would be willing to go with a platoon situation if a No. 1 candidate does not emerge, he would prefer for one player to handle the bulk of the catching duties. “There’s an element of (stability) when one guy is able to bring his pitch-calling ability and his receiving ability to the park every night,” Scioscia said. “You saw it with Bengie Molina when he was here. “If one guy steps up and wins the job and is out there everyday, then that’s beautiful. But I think the reality means some combination. Some guys are going to catch more than others depending on production and if there are any tendencies that start to develop on the individual pitcher. If a guy is performing well with an individual pitcher, that’s something you’ll consider.” Molina insists he holds no grudges for missing out on a $25,000 bonus when he was benched for most of the final week last season. Molina needed just a handful of plate appearances to reach 250 and activate the bonus. He did not play in the final five games. “I don’t even think about that anymore,” he said. “That’s already in the past. It doesn’t matter if I get the bonus or anything like that. I will come to spring training ready to go and ready to do my job. That’s in the past. I don’t care anymore and don’t even bring it up any more.” Francisco Rodriguez, nursing a sore right hamstring, is expected to take part in pitchers’ fielding practice for the first time today and throw from a mound Monday or Tuesday … Kendry Morales, Nick Gorneault and Curtis Pride were the latest to report to camp in advance of Monday’s reporting day for position players. The first full-squad workout is Tuesday … Jered Weaver had the day off but will throw from flat ground today, as will Bartolo Colon. [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