Rookie Kubitza handles highs and lows well in first week with Angels
Kyle Kubitza made his first start at Angel Stadium on Friday, and his versatility could keep him here, even when David Freese returns to the lineup.
He had a wild ride into the majors on Wednesday, when he made his debut in the Angels 4-2 loss in Tampa. He got his first hit, but he also had a baserunning error and mental error at third base.
Kubitza recovered quickly the next game with a game-tying hit with two outs in the seventh inning Thursday against the Rays, which sparked the Angels' 6-2 win. That also gave the Angels the series victory after getting swept by the Yankees in New York.
And it gave Kubitza plenty of confidence.
"It was reassurance that you can do it, to come through right there" Kubitza said. "My goals are the same. They were to get to the big leagues and to stay here. That's another one."
The 24-year-old rookie was in the Angels lineup Friday again at third base. Freese said he was "good to go" before the game. He's recovering from a hamstring injury and could be back in the lineup for the Angels on Saturday.
That doesn't mean Kubitza's days with the Angels are done. Kubitza was a third-round draft pick by the Braves in 2011, and was acquired by the Angels in the offseason.
A spring training with the Angels meant meet-and-greets with everyone from Mike Trout to Albert Pujols.
"I met a lot of guys in spring training and that was cool, coming in to make your debut it was "good to see you" instead of "nice to meet you," Kubitza said before the game. "There's so many quality players here and All-Stars."
Kubitza, who had three hits in his first six at-bats, played shortstop in college at Texas State and has played third base as a professional and some outfield as well.
The Angels haven't worked Kubitza out in left field yet, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia said the Angels have discussed that.
"We were getting him acclimated to his opening day at third base," Scioscia said as to why he hasn't worked out in left field yet.
Kubitza's versatility could help him in a bid to become a regular for the Angels, but his future in the Angels organization is clear.
"He played shortstop for a long time in college," Scioscia said. "His skill set goes from second to short to third. He can definitely play the outfield. The thing with Kyle, he has the potential to be a premium defender at third base. I mean really, really good. That's something that's important to any team. I don't know if you'd want to give up on that. Eventually, his long range position is absolutely third base."
Kubitza seems ready mentally to be an everyday player, especially with the way he bounced back from a difficult debut.
"I think it was very important," Scioscia said. "In knowing Kyle through spring training, his opening game was definitely what we feel is an exception to the way he's going to play. He showed great makeup as a heads-up ballplayer as to how baseball should be played. He had a couple things got away from him the first game. The second night, he came out and you saw a guy who was going out there and just going to play baseball. He knows there's going to be rough spots during a season and a career. He bounced back well. No doubt, that's important."