TEMPE, Ariz. -- Although things are far from decided, it appears that Casey Kotchman remains in the lead for the Angels' starting first-base job. He was a player that manager Mike Scioscia singled out prior to Saturday's game as making an impression this spring. "Kotchman has looked as good as we've seen him," said the manager. "We're excited that he's back at 100 percent and looking the way he did at the end of the '05 season when he did very well for us. He's having a great camp."
Kotchman, who won the job out of Spring Training in 2006, finds himself having to do it all over again after missing most of last year with mononucleosis. "Right now, I'm just emphasizing seeing some pitches and getting quality at-bats," said the 24-year-old. "Everything feels good and I feel strong. The attitude for me is that a string of good luck has to be coming on soon, and I believe that it's right now." However, Scioscia was quick to point out that things are still relatively uncertain in his mind. "We have depth at first and we're not sure who's going to emerge as our starter or in what combination at starter," Scioscia said. "Kendry Morales -- every day he grows in experience and figuring out the finer points of the game. [Shea] Hillenbrand has the ability to play there, as does Robb Quinlan. What combination or whether there's one guy that will play there -- we'll figure that out as we move forward." Kotchman went 2-for-3 on Saturday to raise his spring average to .300 (6-for-20) with a homer. Morales has hit .400 (8-for-20) this spring and has made strides with the glove. "His defense has been terrific from where he was two years ago," Scioscia said. "From then to where he is now is like night and day. He's worked very hard." Although it seems likely that the loser of the battle will find himself back at Triple-A to start the season, Scioscia left open the possibility of keeping both of them. "If there's a significant role for a guy, he'll be on our team, " said the manager. "I don't think we want any of those guys to get just 10 at-bats a month, but if there's a role where someone can help us win, we'll keep him." Santana stiff: Saturday's starter, Ervin Santana, took the mound while battling some stiffness in his neck and was going to be backed off a bit on his pitch count. He had pitched five scoreless innings this spring entering the game, but allowed two runs on five hits over three innings, walking two and striking out one. "I wasn't thinking about [the neck]. It's fine," said Santana. "Once I got on the mound, I was just trying to stay focused. I missed a couple of my spots and left a couple of two-strike sliders up, but I'm getting there. I'm happy with where I am at right now."
Jason Grey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.