Angels eager to start Cactus League play

Angels eager to start Cactus League play

Angels eager to start Cactus League play
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The process toward the goal of playing meaningful games in October begins on Monday for the Angels, with the start of laid-back, less-ceremonious Spring Training games in March.

Opening Day is still a month away, so this may not be the beginning. But at least, as Angels manager Mike Scioscia said on Sunday, it's "a beginning."

"It's always great to get into that game environment," Scioscia said, "but we're not the finished product as a team. There's a lot of work ahead of us, and this is just the beginning to see where you might be."

For Angels fans, it's the beginning of what is one of the most anticipated seasons in franchise history.

For Scioscia, it's the beginning of a spring loaded with important decisions -- not really with regards to competitions for spots, but competitions for playing time.

Barring a trade, the Angels' skipper will spend the spring juggling at-bats for the likes of Kendrys Morales, Mark Trumbo, Bobby Abreu, Alberto Callaspo and Maicer Izturis -- all impacted by the Albert Pujols signing in some way -- in hopes of getting a feel for how it'll all play out during the regular season.

Too much depth is never a bad problem to have, of course. And if you ask general manager Jerry Dipoto, nobody is better at sifting through that than Scioscia.

"He's the best in the business at that," Dipoto said. "He's done it remarkably well through the years. I mean even with guys on our roster -- Callaspo, Izturis, guys who to the naked eye look like repetitive players, and somehow it doesn't end up that way. It keeps players fresh, it puts them in good matchup situations, it gives you depth, interchangeable pieces -- options. It's what you need, options. Do I believe there's enough at-bats for the players here? Absolutely. And we've talked through various ways of how the players fit. Is it going to be a perfect scenario for every player on the roster? No, but that makes us just like 29 other teams."

The Angels will open up their Cactus League schedule with a 12:05 p.m. PT contest at the Athletics' facility in Phoenix on Monday, where C.J. Wilson will start and Pujols is expected to man first base.

The Angels will play their first home game of the spring on Tuesday against the White Sox, and will also host the Mariners, Padres, Giants, Indians (twice), Dodgers, Reds, Brewers, Royals (twice), Rangers (March 25), Rockies, D-backs and Cubs -- all of which will be televised on FOX Sports West or Prime Ticket.

The games on March 9 (Padres), 10 (Giants) 16 (Indians), 17 (Brewers), 25 (Rangers) and 30 (D-backs) are already sold out, and the ones on March 11 (Indians) and 12 (Dodgers) are near sellouts.

The fans are starting to get excited. The players, some of whom have been at the Tempe Diablo Stadium complex since early February, are starting to get antsy.

"I can't wait 'til tomorrow," center fielder Peter Bourjos said on Sunday. "It's been a long winter."