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Angels trim spring roster, send down seven players

Angels trim spring roster, send down seven players

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels' clubhouse is a lot more spacious these days, now that Opening Day is only two weeks away.

On Monday, seven players were cut from big league camp -- right-handed reliever Josh Wall, left-handed relievers Buddy Boshers and Clay Rapada, third baseman Luis Jimenez, shortstop Tommy Field, first baseman Efren Navarro and catcher John Hester -- and now a Spring Training roster that began with 67 players has been whittled to 42.

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And most of those who remain either have a guaranteed spot on the roster or a legitimate chance to get one.

The Angels' starting lineup was set in stone before Spring Training began, and 22-year-old Tyler Skaggs is a near-lock to nail down the fifth spot of the rotation. But there's still plenty of competition for three bench spots, and there could be up to four open bullpen spots if Sean Burnett (recovering from August forearm surgery) and Dane De La Rosa (right forearm strain) start the season on the disabled list.

Here's a look at the jobs available and those who are left to compete for them:

Utility infielder: John McDonald, Andrew Romine (out of options), Grant Green

Backup outfielder: J.B. Shuck, Collin Cowgill, Brennan Boesch, Matt Long

Left-handed pinch-hitter: Ian Stewart, Chad Tracy, Carlos Pena

Right-handed relief: Michael Kohn, Fernando Salas, Brandon Lyon, Cory Rasmus

Left-handed relief: Brian Moran, Nick Maronde

The tricky one, of course, is Joe Blanton, who has $8.5 million remaining on his contract and can only crack the rotation if the Angels surprisingly option Skaggs to Triple-A to start the year. The Angels will continue to look to trade Blanton to a team willing to absorb some of his contract, and they could stash him in the bullpen to begin the season to buy some time. But he isn't expected to serve as a long reliever all year.

Ernesto Frieri, Joe Smith and Kevin Jepsen (out of options) all have solidified spots in the 'pen, in addition to Burnett and De La Rosa. Angels manager Mike Scioscia has floated the possibility of starting the season with eight relievers, but that's unlikely.

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.

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