Daily Distractions: The new WBC favorite; Cactus League attendance down; Wilson on steroids, etc.

WBC logoI started toying with this mental exercise last night: What if the state of California had a team in the World Baseball Classic?

Forget about how many players would decline invitations. Forget about generational eligibility — if you were born in California, you’re eligible (which is fine, since I had a better chance of making Team Wisconsin anyways). What would that team look like? Could it contend?

The answer is yes.

C: John Jaso, Mariners/Rod Barajas, Diamondbacks
1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers
2B: Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks
SS: Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
3B: Ty Wigginton, Cardinals
LF: Ryan Braun, Brewers
CF: Coco Crisp, A’s
RF: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
DH: Prince Fielder, Tigers
UT: Skip Schumaker, Dodgers

SP: Jered Weaver, Angels
SP: CC Sabathia, Yankees
SP: James Shields, Royals
SP: Cole Hamels, Phillies
SP: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
RP: Sergio Romo, Giants
RP: Brandon League, Dodgers
RP: Addison Reed, White Sox
RP: Dale Thayer, Padres
RP: J.P. Howell, Dodgers
RP: Bryan Shaw, Diamondbacks
RP: Kris Medlen, Braves

Manager: Dusty Baker, Reds
Hitting coach: Mark McGwire, Dodgers
Pitching coach: Chris Bosio, Cubs

Apologies to C.J. Wilson, Mark Trumbo, Michael Young, Will Venable, Brandon McCarthy, Kyle Lohse, Mike Moustakas and Carlos Quentin. Perhaps you can dig into your family tree and find another state to play for.

On to some bullet points:

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The day the Angels hosted the Anaheim Ducks.

Cam Fowler baseball

The Angels brought in three players for a tryout Sunday. Each was an athlete with experience at the highest level of professional sports. As of Monday morning, they were still waiting for a call back.

Cam Fowler, Viktor Fasth and Nick Bonino (pictured above, left to right) weren’t exactly waiting. The three Anaheim Ducks were getting ready for tonight’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale. Sunday was a rare off-day in between road games in the same city, so the Ducks took advantage of their invitation to join their Anaheim brethren for a day at the ballpark.

“It was very cool for them to allow us to come in,” Fowler said. “It’s always cool for one professional athlete to see another, how they go about their business.”

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Angels 16, Dodgers 8: Postgame thoughts.

Josh Hamilton

Angels right fielder Josh Hamilton watches his two-run home run in the first inning of a spring baseball game against the Dodgers at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Friday, March 1, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona. The Angels won 16-8. (Keith Birmingham Pasadena Star-News)

It took three and a half hours, but it happened: The Angels won a game.

They scored in mind-numbing fashion, piling on former Angel Matt Palmer (two-thirds of an inning, seven runs) and former Mariner Sean White (two-thirds of an inning, five runs) for 11 unearned runs on four Dodger errors.

The quality of play didn’t make the game come alive, but a standing-room only crowd of 6,744 did. They got their money’s worth. Jered Weaver made his long-awaited debut and a patient Josh Hamilton belted his first home run. And the Angels won.

The bullet points:

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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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