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Angels have flexibility at designated-hitter spot

TEMPE, Ariz. -- One overlooked component of an Angels offense that figures to be among baseball's very best this season is the newfound -- and necessary -- flexibility Mike Scioscia now has at designated hitter.

With defensively limited Kendrys Morales gone, and Mark Trumbo now the primary DH, the Angels' skipper will find it a lot easier this season to give Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton some rest by using them in the DH spot.

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It's an important aspect now, with Pujols coming off arthroscopic knee surgery and Hamilton averaging 129 games the last five years. And it'll be critical down the road, given the money tied to the two 30-something-year-old sluggers.

"We did have some flexibility once Kendrys last year could play the field, but I think we'll have more this year," Scioscia said. "We're going to use it as we need it. I don't think we're going to lean on it a lot more than we did last year, but we do have that option if something comes up to get a guy off his [feet], where he doesn't have to grind on the field and can just DH."

Pujols, 33, and owed $228 million over the next nine years, started 34 games at DH last year, most of it down the stretch as a result of the lingering pain that prompted a minor knee clean-up in October. Hamilton, 31, and signed to a five-year, $125 million contract, totaled 53 starts as a DH in his five-year stint with the Rangers, 32 of which came the last three seasons.

Even if totally healthy, there's an added benefit to getting guys like Hamilton and Pujols off their feet every once in a while to keep them fresh for the stretch run.

And Scioscia plans to utilize that.

"There's going to be days where you try to work ahead and just do it as a preventative, and there's some days where you're going to do it because you need to," Scioscia said. "There's no finite days, it's all feel, but the thing is to try to keep those guys in the lineup on the offensive side as much as you can to keep that continuity."

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