Angels rookie Michael Roth is a reliever. For now.

Michael Roth

Michael Roth has four made consecutive scoreless relief appearances for the Angels. (Getty Images)

Just as Michael Roth is figuring things out as a reliever, his future as a starting pitcher might get in the way.

There’s no question the Angels have a decision to make on their second-round draft pick from a year ago, whose scoreless inning Sunday marked his fourth straight appearance without allowing a run. “I’ve been on time, rhythm wise,” he said.

Yet the 23-year-old left-hander was drafted as a starting pitcher out of the University of South Carolina, and that’s how he has been used during his brief time in the minors.
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Daily Distractions: Apparent blown call revisited; Angels’ initial budget was $5 million.

Did the blown call at first base in yesterday’s game matter?

It’s a valid enough question to be debating it today. Albert Pujols, who had three hits in the game, was on deck. He’s batted four times in his career against Dodgers pitcher Kenley Jansen and has one hit, a home run.

If the Angels indeed go on another winning streak today, and this stands as the only defeat in a stretch of wins, the play will loom large. A one-run loss decided by a blown call in the eighth inning? Not too much to hang your head about there.

Some more bullet points for a Tuesday morning:

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Daily Distractions: More on Billy Buckner, Jose Guillen, Ian Kinsler, replay options.

Billy Buckner is a good story, beyond his name.

Billy BucknerWhen the Angels added him to their 40-man roster and flew him in from Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday, it was Buckner’s first major-league opportunity in three years. The last go-around didn’t end well – he pitched four innings and allowed seven runs in each of his final two games with the Kansas City Royals in May 2010 – and it’s been a long road back. The Angels are his fourth organization since then.

Just a year ago, he was a free agent coming off surgery to remove bone spurs in his right (pitching elbow). He signed a minor-league deal with the Boston Red Sox and began the season with Double-A Portland (Maine) of the Eastern League.

“They gave me a chance to come back and pitch,” Buckner said.

The Angels’ unfortunate reality — a pitcher who just last year was in Double-A is being counted on to stabilize the pitching staff — is Buckner’s great fortune. As is his collection of Bill Buckner swag.
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Billy Buckner, Ryan Brasier in; Michael Roth, Barry Enright out as Angels’ ‘living organism’ evolves.

The Angels have used 20 pitchers this season and could soon hand the ball to a 21st.

One day after he allowed four runs in two innings in a spot start against the Kansas City Royals, Barry Enright was designated for assignment. That allowed the Angels to select the contract of Triple-A right-hander Billy Buckner and add him to the major-league roster Thursday.

The Angels also optioned Michael Roth to Double-A Arkansas and recalled Ryan Brasier from Triple-A Salt Lake for the second time this season.
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Scioscia: Angels’ best starters won’t pitch until March.

Get ready for a steady dose of Billy Buckner, A.J. Schugel and Brad Mills this weekend.

Mike Scioscia didn’t single out those starters by name, but the Angels’ manager did rule out his projected five starters from pitching in games for at least another week. The Angels open Cactus League play with split-squad games Saturday against the Cubs and Giants.

“The guys that we’re looking at, especially Weave [Jered Weaver], he doesn’t need to get started until somewhere around the first” of March, Scioscia said. “It would just be too long for him. He wouldn’t need it.”

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Angels spring training preview: Starting pitchers.

Jered Weaver

The Angels’ five-man rotation is all but set. Two familiar faces, Garrett Richards and Jerome Williams (whom I included with the relievers), are vying for “sixth starter” status. Of course, just because a rotation is set doesn’t mean it’s good, and many see this group as the Angels’ Achilles heel beyond ace Jered Weaver.

The other four starters — Tommy Hanson, Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas and C.J. Wilson – were flat-out bad for stretches last season. Will Wilson snap back to his old self following elbow surgery? Can Hansen, Blanton and Vargas benefit from a change of scenery and a star-studded defense?

Those are the biggest questions facing the rotation, and maybe the team, going into camp. Unless there’s an injury, don’t expect the Angels’ five-man rotation to change in spring training.

(Non-roster invitees listed in parentheses)

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