Los Angeles Angels Second Base Competition Heating Up


It has now been a week since Angels’ position players reported to Tempe, AZ for Spring Training. For a team that won 98 games a year ago, it is surprising how many jobs are up for grabs this March. The second base battle has been debated for months by fans, but is appears Josh Rutledge is the early favorite to be at second base for the Los Angeles Angels on opening day.

The Angels traded away all-star second baseman Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers this past December. Kendrick was a fan favorite in Anaheim, and has left a gaping hole at the keystone. The Angels currently have four young men auditioning for the chance to replace Kendrick this spring. Josh Rutledge was acquired from the Colorado Rockies minutes after the Kendrick deal was announced. The Angels used Grant Green as their utility man last season, but he will be hoping for an increased role in 2015. Johnny Giavotella was once top prospect with the Kansas City Royals organization, but after falling out of favor he was picked up by the Halos off waivers this winter. Taylor Featherston was acquired via the rule 5 draft this past December.

Grant Green and Josh Rutledge have long been seen as the favorites to handle second base duties this season. According to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, both Johnny Giavotella and Rutledge got some reps with the starting infield this week. This may not be overly indicative of things to come, as both players are newcomers and need to get acclimated to the rest of the Halos infield.

Taylor Featherston may be the least recognizable of the competitors, but he does posses an intriguing mix of offense and defense. He has demonstrated quite a bit of pop during his time in the minor leagues, and his glove is coming along nicely as well. Although, he has never played above double-A, he has a realistic shot at cracking the 25-man roster if he put together a great spring.

This is a cool piece of video from Jeff Fletcher at the Orange County Register. Josh Rutledge and Grant Green are the heavy favorites to fill Howie Kendrick’s shoes in 2015. In this video we can see the hard work Green has been putting in during the offseason is paying off. He reportedly spent a lot of time playing shortstop this winter in hopes of quickening his footwork and release. Green is a smooth athlete for his size. Rutledge has the look of a guy ready to play second base 140+ times this season. You can see that he has a slightly quicker release, and he is considered by most to be the better defender of the two.

Josh Rutledge hitting with the big boys is very telling. If you have ever watched hitters take batting practice before a game, you know that they take BP in small groups of four or five. Usually, the starters are broken into groups to hit together, and the backups do the same. The fact that Rutledge was taking batting practice with obvious starters like Albert Pujols, Erick Aybar, and David Freese supports the idea Rutledge has the early lead in the race to play second in 2015.

Add another tick in the Josh Rutledge column. Again, more than likely Mike Scioscia has leaned over and complimented Grant Green, Johnny Giavotella, and Taylor Featherston a time or too. However, the fact that the media picked up on Rutledge turning heads is noteworthy. The Angels traded for Rutledge this winter, and I do not believe they brought him in to ride the pine in 2015.

Just when you think all the evidence is beginning to point in one direction, Mike Scioscia throws us a curveball. It appears the Halos will be using most of their regulars in tomorrow’s Cactus League opener. Again, it looks like Josh Rutledge will be trotting out with the regulars under the molten Arizona sun Thursday afternoon in Tempe. However, as always Scioscia is exactly right. The competition is still too close to call. We are over a month away from opening day. A lot can happen in 30 days.

There are still many rounds left in this fight, but Josh Rutledge is going to get the first shot at being the everyday second baseman. I believe he will ultimately win the job this spring. However, Grant Green, Johnny Giavotella, or Taylor Featherston could just as easily exit Tempe the victor. This competition remains wide open, and it should be fun to watch this spring.

Tonight is the final night without Angels’ baseball for the foreseeable future. The Los Angeles Angels are due to take on the Milwaukee Brewers tomorrow afternoon from Tempe Diablo Stadium. If all goes well in 2015, the Angels will be playing ball from now until Halloween. Make sure you check back tomorrow morning for a preview of Thursday’s action.