Conger, Shuck are in as Angels finalize roster

Conger, Shuck are in as Angels finalize roster

ANAHEIM -- Catcher Hank Conger, infielders Andrew Romine and Brendan Harris and outfielder J.B. Shuck will make up the Angels' bench to start the season, with Garrett Richards and Mark Lowe locking down the final two bullpen spots, manager Mike Scioscia announced after Saturday night's spring finale, a 2-1 win over the Dodgers.

Richards and Lowe join a bullpen that includes lefties Sean Burnett and Scott Downs, righties Ernesto Frieri and Kevin Jepsen, and long reliever Jerome Williams. Catcher John Hester, infielders Luis Jimenez, Efren Navarro and Luis Rodriguez, outfielder Kole Calhoun and relievers Mitch Stetter and David Carpenter will start their respective seasons in the Minor Leagues.

Chris Snyder, who can opt out of his Minor League contract if he's not on the Opening Day roster, will hope for a Major League opportunity elsewhere, but that's unlikely to come this time of year.

"This close to Opening Day, I'm pretty sure most of the rosters are set," Snyder said. "There's still a chance. But if there's nothing there, I'll be in [Triple-A] Salt Lake -- I'll be heading out on Monday, probably. It gives me an opportunity to play and still showcase."

The Angels signed Snyder on March 18, shortly after he had been released by the Nationals, because they needed some veteran insurance to account for Conger's throwing woes.

Conger, a 25-year-old switch-hitter, is the most talented among those who were vying for the job behind Chris Iannetta, but he had serious issues early in camp, making four throwing errors -- three in one game -- plus several others in Minor League games. But Conger also batted .359 with four homers -- the last of which was a walk-off on Saturday night -- and Scioscia believes he's moved past his defensive issue.

"It was a little bit of a roller-coaster this spring -- we can all agree on that," Conger said, smiling.

"As far as the catcher, you don't have to shut down a running game, but you need to contain it," Scioscia said. "Hank has the arm strength to do that, he just, for a while, lost his rhythm in the spring and had a rough time early in camp. As spring went on, there's no doubt he found his release point and threw better."

Shuck, a non-roster invitee acquired on a Minor League deal in November, out-performed the homegrown Calhoun at the plate -- going 18-for-49, compared to Calhoun's 8-for-45 -- and is more of a contact hitter.

"His spring was off the charts," Scioscia said. "I mean, he flat-out made our team."

Romine, who has appeared in 27 games with the Angels the last three years, came into camp as the odds-on favorite to replace Maicer Izturis as the backup infielder and batted .267 (12-for-45) in 22 games this spring.

Harris, also obtained on a Minor League deal in November, gets the last bench spot, providing an experienced right-handed bat and more versatility on the infield, possibly freeing Scioscia up to use Romine as a pinch-runner.

The Angels' 40-man roster is now full, with Shuck, Lowe and Harris all having their contracts purchased.

"There's some depth that we have on our bench," Scioscia said. "It's not a bench packed with a lot of power, besides what we saw Hank do, but we have versatility and we're going to have guys who are ready to go."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for 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.