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:

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Just kidding! Albert Pujols likes spring training at-bats after all, goes 0-for-3.

Albert Pujols

Four days ago, Albert Pujols seemed to scoff at the notion that he was a mere mortal who needed spring training to prepare for Opening Day. “I’ve got 8,000 at-bats in the big leagues,” he said Friday at Tempe Diablo Stadium. “I think I’ve got plenty.”

Pujols may have been kidding but he wasn’t smiling.

So it came as a surprise to everyone outside the Angels’ spring headquarters — and perhaps some of the announced crowd of 4,170 for Tuesday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds — when Pujols’ name was penciled into the DH slot. (Those responsible for the empty seats in the half-empty stadium will probably be the most surprised of all.)

“These at-bats are very important,” he said. “This is what gets you ready.”

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