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After rough start to spring, 'pen turning it around

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ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia has basically decided who will claim the last two bullpen spots, but he'll wait to see how things play out before making an announcement.

What he will say is his bullpen concerns have eased a bit over the last few days.

Angels relievers have posted a 7.20 ERA in 31 games this spring, by far the highest in baseball (the Giants are 29th at 5.87). On Wednesday, general manager Jerry Dipoto, who prioritized the 'pen in the offseason, acted aggressively to address some depth issues by acquiring three relievers in a span of six hours -- Elvin Ramirez for cash from the Mets, Dane De La Rosa for Steven Geltz from the Rays and former Dodger Mark Lowe as a free agent.

Lately, though, Scioscia has seen some positive signs from his most important arms.

Sean Burnett has given up one run on three hits in his last three appearances over a span of six days. Ernesto Frieri is coming off what Scioscia said was his best outing, notching a save with a clean ninth inning against the Rangers on Wednesday. Kevin Jepsen also had a scoreless inning that day, and Jerome Williams showed some improvement while giving up two runs and striking out six in 3 2/3 innings. Scott Downs, meanwhile, had a 1-2-3 eighth inning on Thursday - four days after giving up three runs and getting two outs.

Garrett Richards, who has posted a 1.62 ERA in 16 2/3 innings this spring, is a no-brainer for a spot in the 'pen.

The last one, open because Ryan Madson will start the season on the disabled list, is down to lefty specialist Mitch Stetter (three runs in three innings this spring), sinkerballer David Carpenter (four runs in last three innings) and Lowe, a heavy favorite who gave up a run on two hits in Thursday's seventh inning.

"We've had some guys that have maybe stubbed their toe a little bit this week that are vying for spots," Scioscia said, "but the depth is there and I think we're going to be looking at some things these next three days to see what gives us the best look."

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.

{"event":["spring_training" ] }
{"event":["spring_training" ] }
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