Is There a Doctor in the House?


Nick Adenhart’s start today could determine whether he starts 2008 in Anaheim or Salt Lake.

At this rate, the Angels’ opening night roster might be the Salt Lake Bees of Anaheim.

Players who might be on the disabled list when the season begins are pitchers John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, Chris Bootcheck, Scot Shields and now outfielder Gary Matthews. None are likely to be out longer than late April, but at least for a couple weeks there will be opportunities for players who were otherwise destined for Salt Lake.

The surviving starting rotation includes Jon Garland, Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, and Ervin Santana. The fifth job should go to either Dustin Moseley or Nick Adenhart, who starts today. Nick has never pitched above Double-A, but there’s some sentiment that three or four starts might do him some good to give him exposure to major league bats.

If Adenhart gets the job, then Moseley goes to the bullpen in long relief. Right now, bullpen jobs are guaranteed for Frankie Rodriguez, Justin Speier, and Darren Oliver. If Moseley is in the rotation, that means three jobs at least for guys who would have started 2008 in Salt Lake. Those three would appear to be Rich Thompson, Jason Bulger and the surprising Darren O’Day, who like Adenhart lacks Triple-A experience. Alex Serrano, a 2005 minor league free agent signing after he was released by the Rockies, is also making a run.

So much inexperience might tend to move Moseley back to the bullpen, with Adenhart making a few starts until someone returns. Chris Bootcheck threw yesterday but will need a little more time before he’s ready to join the Angels; when that happens, Moseley could go into the rotation and Nick reports to Salt Lake.

Gary Matthews’ sprained ankle postpones a painful decision for the Angels, choosing between outfielders Reggie Willits and Nathan Haynes. Willits has options left, which means he can be sent to Salt Lake, whereas Haynes would have to pass through waivers and would probably be claimed by another organization.

Regardless of how it plays out, thank goodness Angels management ignored all those demands by certain fans and sportswriters last winter to flush the farm system for the mythical “big bat.” All that depth is protecting the parent club roster right now, instead of cavorting for Florida or some other team. How foolish it would be to risk the future of the organization on one mortal who can get injured at any time. Not many teams could absorb the loss of Lackey, Escobar, Bootcheck, Shields and Matthews without blinking.

UPDATE 5:45 PM March 25, 2008MLB.com reports that Kelvim Escobar has been shut down after suffering a setback in his rehab program.

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