Gillaspie impressive in Angels debut

Gillaspie impressive in Angels debut

ANAHEIM -- The Angels had a new look for Saturday's 7-6 loss to the Rangers. Newly acquired Conor Gillaspie started at third base, and Kyle Kubitza -- a third-base prospect who hadn't played the outfield regularly until a little more than a week ago at Triple-A Salt Lake -- made his first big league start in left field.

Gillaspie had a solid Angels debut, going 2-for-4 with an RBI double and a run scored, although he also struck out twice. He made a nice play in the seventh inning, gloving Prince Fielder's chopper down the third-base line and throwing him out from foul territory.

"Conor looked relaxed. He looked good at the plate, hit the ball hard a couple of times and made some nice plays in the field," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's gonna get an opportunity to play with David out, no doubt about that, and hopefully he'll be able to contribute and do some of the things you saw tonight."

The Angels traded for Gillaspie on Friday to help fill the gap at third base left by David Freese, who will likely miss two to three weeks with a fractured right index finger. Gillaspie was added to the active roster on Saturday and inserted into the lineup.

He was the White Sox Opening Day third baseman but lost his job to rookie Tyler Saladino.

"A lot of players' problems are overanalyzing or nerves or anxiety or stress -- those are all factors other than the game itself that you have to control as a player," Gillaspie said before the game. "And I don't think I did a very good job of controlling those things the first half of the season. But there's always a chance to rebound and there's always a chance to contribute somewhere."

Kubitza was recalled from Salt Lake when Freese was injured and had been starting at the hot corner. It remains to be seen how much time he'll spend there, or in the outfield, now that Gillaspie is in the fold.

With right-handed-hitting Matt Joyce mired in a bad slump, the Angels have also been monitoring the trade market for a left-handed-hitting left fielder.

"He's kind of reworking a couple of things, so we're giving him a couple of days to do that." Scioscia said of Joyce, who didn't pick up a bat Friday, then came in for early work on "concepts" with assistant hitting coach Dave Hansen on Saturday.

Scioscia said working on driving the ball through the middle or to the opposite field can be more effective for a veteran like Joyce than trying to pinpoint a specific swing mechanic to adjust.

"What we're trying to accomplish is trying to break the cycle for Matt where he was really just banging his head against the wall," Scioscia said. "That's important for us to do. We've got some other guys that hopefully are gonna be able to contribute, and then when Matt gets back in there, hopefully we'll see more continuity in his at-bats."

Kubitza is one of those guys for now. Efren Navarro, currently at Triple-A, had also been a left-handed-hitting left-field option earlier in the season, but Scioscia said the team had to prioritize third-base coverage after Freese's injury.

"I had a lot of guys at Triple-A to ask questions about where to play, and I've been shagging balls as much as I can in left during batting practice, taking ground balls," Kubitza said. "It was nice to get in a game and kind of feel it out, and I feel comfortable."

Worth noting

Jered Weaver will throw another bullpen session on Sunday, Scioscia said, after which the Angels will determine the next step for the veteran right-hander and his return.

David Adler is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.