Kubitza could stay with Halos as Freese returns

Kubitza could stay with Halos as Freese returns

ANAHEIM -- Angels third baseman David Freese, out of the lineup the last three games due to lingering tightness in his right hamstring, had an encouraging workout prior to Friday's series opener against the A's.

"I'm good to go," Freese said shortly thereafter. "I'm ready to be in there."

Freese could start as early as Saturday, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he could pinch-hit Friday.

Freese's RBI double

That doesn't necessarily mean Kyle Kubitza is on his way out, though.

Kubitza was acquired over the winter with hopes that he would be ready to take over third base in 2016 and got his first Major League call-up earlier than expected because the Angels needed someone to fill in while Freese healed.

With Freese on his way back, the Angels are exploring the possibility of giving Kubitza some reps in left field or at first base so he can continue to help them against right-handed pitching, Scioscia said.

Scioscia believes Kubitza "has the potential to be a premium defender at third base."

"I don't know if you'd want to give up on that," Scioscia added. "His long-range position is definitely third base."

But the Angels need help now.

They entered the weekend series 21st in the Majors in OPS against right-handed pitching and 27th in OPS from their left fielders. Kubitza, a left-handed hitter with a line-drive swing and a gap-to-gap approach, was batting .287/.362/.452 in Triple-A and went 3-for-6 in his first two games with the Angels.

Listed at 6-foot-3, Kubitza played some shortstop at Texas State University and has played third base exclusively in his five-year pro career. The 24-year-old said he spent one or two games at left field in college "and maybe some in rookie ball, if someone got hurt or ejected or something like that."

He's willing to try some more.

"Anything to help the team win," Kubitza said. "If I can do something well enough, hopefully that means I can stay here longer."

With C.J. Cron hitting .204 and Kirk Nieuwenhuis going 3-for-22 before being designated for assignment, the Angels have gone to Efren Navarro as their elusive ninth bat against righties, putting him in left field and starting the struggling Matt Joyce at designated hitter.

Navarro, the Angels' 50th-round pick in 2007, was hitting .320/.421/.556 in Triple-A.

"Any time a player gets an opportunity and performs well, they get more opportunities," Scioscia said. "Hopefully Efren will give us a little boost out there because it's obviously a position we're trying to fill."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.