LOS ANGELES — The final cuts are always the toughest.
Some time in the next couple of days, Angels manager Mike Scioscia will have to decide on a final 25-man roster for the start of the regular season. It’s not going to be easy.
The Angels are enjoying a very excellent spring, but it means difficult choices, which Scioscia conceded Thursday night after a 7-5 win over the Dodgers in the opener of their three-game Freeway Series.
"One thing we’re finding is that a lot of guys are having terrific springs," he said. "There’s going to be some disappointment for anybody that doesn’t make the club. It’s tough because some guys are putting their best foot forward."
Many are. In fact, Scioscia said his offense is 16 or 17 players deep for 13 positions. So when final roster cuts are made, probably Sunday ahead of the team’s season opener Monday night against the Mariners at Angel Stadium, there’s likely to be a lot of unhappiness.
But it also means there will be resources in the minor leagues when the Angels need them.
Hector Santiago, slated to be the No. 4 starter, threw 104 pitches over six innings in the Angels’ 7-5 win over the Dodgers Thursday night.
"It’s great for us," Scioscia said. "It’s sometimes difficult for some individuals."
The Angels have won nine consecutive spring games, but a winning record in March guarantees nothing once the season begins. Even so, the Angels believe their 18-10-2 exhibition record can have a carryover effect.
"Winning is making everybody bond," winning pitcher Hector Santiago said. "Winning is a happy clubhouse, happy dugout, happy coaches, happy teammates. All the way around, our team chemistry is bonding really well. It’s been that way since the beginning. Carrying this over to the season is going to be huge."
Santiago, slated to be the No. 4 starter, threw 104 pitches over six innings and endured a few problems with his command, but he sounded positive afterward. His two biggest mistakes were a changeup and fastball he threw to Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who drove both for home runs. The second homer, in the fifth inning, landed a few rows from the top of the left-field pavilion, an estimated 465 feet.
"Sometimes you get in a little funk and step off the mound and then get back into it," Santiago said. "But for the most part, I think I had pretty good command starting off the game and then finishing it."
So did his offense. The Angels came back from a 3-1 deficit with four runs in the seventh off reliever Jose Dominguez. Howie Kendrick, hitting .392 this spring, hit a two-run single, and the Angels added two more when Dodgers catcher Drew Butera threw away a ball attempting to catch Erick Aybar on a steal attempt.
Check out our first Angels GIF from ‘Freeway Series’
The Angels and Dodgers meet again Friday night at Dodger Stadium before concluding the series Saturday in Anaheim. Regardless of how the series plays out, the Angels are feeling good about their momentum as the season opener nears.
"We’re having a really good spring, not just in winning games but the way the whole atmosphere has come together," Scioscia said. "Guys are excited about the team. On the offensive side, our guys are hitting stride, and our pitching is much further ahead than it was last spring for sure."
Now all that’s left is deciding who goes and who stays.