Angels keeping options open at closer

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia isn't picking any favorites for the closer's role, which will be wide open now that Ryan Madson is all but guaranteed to start the season on the disabled list.

With Madson, still throwing off flat ground, unavailable for at least the first couple of weeks, the Angels will be left with Ernesto Frieri, Scott Downs, Kevin Jepsen and Sean Burnett at the back end of the bullpen. Frieri would seem to be the logical choice for the ninth, at least initially, after posting a 2.32 ERA and going 23-for-26 in save chances with the Angels last season.

But Scioscia will leave it wide open for now.

"We'll see where we are at the end of Spring Training," the Angels' skipper said. "If Madson isn't quite ready, you have Frieri, who stepped in there, that is a candidate. But do we have to declare that right now?"

Jepsen has always had what people like to call "closer's stuff," with an average fastball velocity of 96.4 mph in 2012, and posted a 1.67 ERA after coming back up in July last year. Downs has a career 2.08 ERA in 164 1/3 innings in save situations. And Burnett, who posted a 2.76 ERA and 1.23 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) the last three years with the Nats, is "an important wild card" because he "can pitch anywhere from the sixth to ninth inning," Scioscia said.

"I think we have some depth in the back end of our 'pen," he added. "We'll see where it evolves, but we're very comfortable with the arms we have down there and the fact that they're going to do a better job of holding leads."