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Angels look to utilize extra Spring Training time

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels have a lot of time to get ready for the upcoming regular season.

Too much time, perhaps.

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Due to the World Baseball Classic, Spring Training started more than a week earlier throughout baseball this year. In 2012, Angels pitchers and catchers reported Feb. 19, with the first full workout following on Feb. 27 and the first Cactus League game March 5. This year, pitchers and catchers got their physicals Feb. 11, the first full-squad workout was Feb. 15 and the first Spring Training contest is slated for the 23rd.

Opening Day is five days earlier -- April 1 instead of April 6 -- but the new schedule still leaves the Angels with about an extra week to prepare. So don't expect to see many of the regulars, or starting pitchers, appearing in that first week. The Angels won't be playing in any intra-squad games before then, either. There's just no need.

"I know it sounds weird when you say it's only six days or seven days -- that's a big difference for a position player because they normally don't even need all the normal spring," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Now they have six or seven more days. So, there's a timing element of when we can take advantage of them working a little bit more to prep themselves for games a little bit."

One guy who will get in games early in the spring is shortstop Erick Aybar, who will suit up for the Dominican Republic as the only Angels representative taking part in the Classic.

At some point in early March, Aybar will fly to Puerto Rico, site of pool play beginning March 7. Depending on how well his home country fares, Aybar could be away from the team until as late as March 19, when the championship game takes place at AT&T Park in San Francisco. And with Jose Reyes the starting shortstop, he may not get much time on the field.

"I think as long as he's getting his work in," Scioscia said. "It's Spring Training; these guys aren't going to start out playing every day anyway. If he's going to play enough to start to see some velocity, enough to start to get his prep step, get some of this spring stiffness out, that's fine."

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