Alburquerque to start season in Triple-A

Right-hander has one option left, expects to be with Angels at some point in '16

Alburquerque to start season in Triple-A

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Veteran reliever Al Alburquerque, signed to a $1.1 million split contract over the offseason, will not crack the Angels' Opening Day roster.

Alburquerque was informed on Tuesday morning that he will begin the 2016 season with Triple-A Salt Lake, a circumstance that seemingly leaves young pitchers Cam Bedrosian and Greg Mahle to battle for the final bullpen spot.

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Alburquerque broke out with the Tigers in 2014, with a 2.51 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 72 appearances. But the 29-year-old right-hander posted a 4.21 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP in 67 appearances in 2015 -- a season hindered by the Chikungunya virus -- and was then non-tendered in December.

Bedrosian has struck out 17 batters in 10 2/3 innings this spring and has allegedly shown better command of a breaking ball, a pitch that has given him trouble in the past. Mahle, who profiles as a lefty specialist, has a 1.64 ERA in 11 innings.

Alburquerque was good this spring, with a 4.50 ERA but also 13 strikeouts and one walk in eight innings. He boasts a wipeout slider and a mid- to high-90s fastball that plays well in an Angels bullpen which doesn't feature much velocity. But he also has an option left, and reaches five years of service time -- at which point he can't be optioned without consent -- with 25 days on a Major League roster.

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Alburquerque figures to be back up with the team at some point this year.

"I'll tell you, there was not one pitcher, especially of the guys vying for bullpen roles, that did not have a terrific spring," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said when asked about Alburquerque. "His stuff looked great. If you look at his strikeouts, you can see that's in his game. I think that has always been a part of his game. He was throwing strikes, and his stuff plays. He's certainly on our depth chart."

Worth noting

• Reliever Deolis Guerra, who signed a Minor League contract after electing free agency, recently underwent emergency appendectomy surgery and will not be joining the team for the Freeway Series against the Dodgers, as initially expected.

• Most of the Angels' everyday players returned to Southern California on Tuesday, including Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Kole Calhoun, Andrelton Simmons and Yunel Escobar. The Angels will host a workout in Anaheim on Wednesday.

Matt Shoemaker gave up eight runs (five earned) on 13 hits in five innings of a Minor League game on Tuesday, striking out three. Shoemaker, expected to be the Angels' fifth starter, will have one more exhibition start against the Cubs on Sunday.

• The Angels spent an industry-low $660,000 in the international market in 2015, according to Baseball America. Because of their agreement with Roberto Baldoquin, the Angels can't spend more than $300,000 on a player in 2015 or 2016.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.