Thompson hopes to keep spot in bullpen

Thompson hopes to keep spot in bullpen

Thompson hopes to keep spot in bullpen
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels reliever Rich Thompson is approaching yet another important spring. Once again, he's out of options. And once again, there's plenty of competition for the open spots in the bullpen.

"It's always like this," Thompson said. "There's always a lot of competition in the bullpen; there's always about 12 or 13 guys in the mix for seven spots. You just have to do your work, pitch the way you can pitch, and then things will take care of themselves. If you're on the club, you're on the club."

Assuming the Angels go the traditional route and start the season with seven relievers, there seems to be only two spots open in camp.

Closer Jordan Walden, lefties Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi and veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins are basically locks to make the team. And if Jason Isringhausen, the 39-year-old former closer who recently signed a Minor League deal, proves he's healthy, seems to have a spot in that bullpen, too.

That leaves the likes of Trevor Bell, Bobby Cassevah, Kevin Jepsen, Michael Kohn and Thompson -- and there can always be a dark horse in the mix -- competing for the remaining two spots.

Of that group, only Thompson is without options.

"It kind of puts the pressure, I guess, on me and them," said Thompson, a 27-year-old right-hander who hails from Australia. "But after last year's season, I'd like to think I showed some things they would like and are looking to put in their club."

Thompson pitched his first full season in the big leagues last year, posting a 3.00 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and a 2.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio while finishing 16 of his 44 games.