CINCINNATI -- Andrew Romine and J.B. Shuck cleared a very large hurdle by making their first Opening Day roster. Now comes perhaps an even greater challenge: Adjusting to life as part-time players in the big leagues.
Romine and Shuck are the Angels' two left-handed bats off the bench, since the switch-hitting Hank Conger doubles as the backup catcher. And with Josh Hamilton the only left-handed hitter in the Angels' starting lineup, along with switch-hitters Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo, they could both be called on to pinch-hit in big spots throughout the season.
Young players will tell you that can be tougher than playing every day in the Majors, simply because it's something you can only get good at from experience.
"It's tough," Shuck said. "You just have to focus and stay in the game when you're not playing. Make sure you stretch out quite a bit, come in here, get some flips, and just pay attention to the game so you know kind of what the pitcher is doing in the game."
Shuck (37 games coming into the season) and Romine (27) each have limited Major League experience and, like most, played every day in the Minors. Each of them navigated through spring simulating regular-season pinch-hit appearances as best they could, and each of them have picked a veteran's brain in the past -- Shuck had Jason Michaels with the Astros in 2011, and Romine had Maicer Izturis up until last season.
"He always stressed being ready, at any time," Romine said of Izturis, "because especially in this organization, anything can happen. I can pinch-hit late, or I can just come in and run in an important situation. Anything can happen."
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.