PHOENIX -- Fernando Cabrera was basically an unknown at Angels camp, spending only a few weeks with his new team and giving up four runs in three appearances before leaving for the World Baseball Classic.
But while pitching for Puerto Rico, Angels coaches have begun taking notice.
Cabrera, the 31-year-old right-hander obtained on a Minor League deal this offseason, hasn't allowed a run while serving as a quasi-closer for his native country, which is off to the championship round at San Francisco's AT&T Park as the Pool 2 runnerup. And though it's only four appearances -- and a grand total of two innings -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia has noticed Cabrera's improved stuff.
"The first couple times he pitched in games and threw bullpens for us, you could see he just wasn't where he needed to be," Scioscia said. "But over the course of some bullpens, over the course of game action, I know his velocity has picked up a little bit. We'll get a chance to look at him at some point."
If Puerto Rico advances to the championship game, Cabrera won't return to Angels camp until Wednesday, at the earliest, giving him eight days in Arizona until the Angels break camp for three exhibition games against the Dodgers in Southern California.
That isn't much time to crack the Opening Day roster. But the Angels have cut several relievers of late and Cabrera has extensive Major League experience, notching a 5.24 ERA in 175 1/3 innings from 2004-10. Last year, he posted a 4.10 ERA for the Mets' Triple-A affiliate.
Assuming Garrett Richards gets one of the two open bullpen spots -- with Scott Downs, Sean Burnett, Kevin Jepsen, Ernesto Frieri and Jerome Williams in, and Ryan Madson starting the season on the disabled list -- Cabrera could compete with the likes of David Carpenter, Mitch Stetter, Nick Maronde, Chad Cordero and Kevin Johnson for the last one.
"Cabrera definitely will have an opportunity to see where he is and move into our depth chart," Scioscia said, "and we'll go from there."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.