Bobby Abreu to Angels: Play me or trade me

Tempe, Ariz.— Bobby Abreu hasn’t arrived at Angels camp, but the veteran outfielder has already caused a stir, telling a reporter from on Tuesday that he would prefer to be traded if he isn’t playing every day.

“I’m an everyday player, I can still be in the lineup for a major league team,” Abreu, who will be 38 in March, said by phone from Venezuela. “I will not be on the bench knowing that I can play. If the Angels don’t have a position for me, then the best thing is to trade me.”

The problem is the Angels can’t guarantee Abreu a starting job this early in camp, and they would prefer to hold onto Abreu as insurance in case Kendrys Morales doesn’t return from a broken left ankle and Mark Trumbo is slow to return from a stress fracture in his right foot.

Abreu’s $9-million salary and declining skills–though one of baseball’s best all-around players for a decade, he hit .253 with eight home runs and 60 runs batted in last season–also make him difficult to move.

With Albert Pujols locked in at first base, Morales, who had 34 homers and 108 RBIs in 2009, and Trumbo, who had 29 homers and 87 RBIs last season, figure to get most of the designated hitter at-bats Abreu got last season. The outfield appears set with Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Peter Bourjos.

General Manager Jerry Dipoto and Manager Mike Scioscia spoke to Abreu over the last month and assured him he would be given every opportunity this spring to win at-bats, but Abreu apparently wasn’t convinced.

“Yes, I spoke to Scioscia, but the conversation had nothing to do about me being a bench player,” Abreu said. “He told me I will start one day in left field, another in right and another as a DH. We are on the same page in the sense that we both want the team to compete and go far in the playoffs, but we never reached an agreement in respect to me becoming a bench player.”