Jason Vargas could pitch in the Angels’ season-opening series.

Jason VargasMike Scioscia set the template for his starting rotation earlier this month by having Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson pitch in that order when the five starters began pitching Cactus League games.

So it figures that Weaver, Wilson and Blanton would be the Angels’ starters when the season begins with a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Preparing early — two and a half weeks ahead of time — for the possibility of injury, Scioscia sent Vargas into the batting cage with Weaver, Wilson and Blanton when Angels starters began taking their first full swings Wednesday.

Here’s why:

“You can project your starting rotation now ‘til tomorrow and it might change,” Scioscia said. “I think that the flexibility needs to be there to move some guys around, if somebody’s not quite stretched out enough and they need to move to the back of (the rotation). We’re getting into some critical times for these pitchers. They’re going to be going into the fifth inning their next time around … when you start to get into the fifth, sixth inning and there’s a setback, maybe the timing isn’t right where a guy doesn’t get to at least 90, 100 pitches (in spring training) — where you need him to start the season. If you have to flip him back (in the rotation) to get a little more work, you have to flip somebody in. Right now Jason could be that wild card if he keeps going.”

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.