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OC Register: Gio Urshela happy with Angels’ decision to give him a continued look at shortstop


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OAKLAND — When the Angels acquired Gio Urshela last winter, their plan was to have a versatile player who could play anywhere on the infield. Now, that they’ve reached the season, it looks like they’re going to see how much shortstop he can handle.

Asked how much he can expect Urshela to play shortstop, Manager Phil Nevin said: “I don’t know. He’s playing tonight. That’s the way I look at it. We’ll evaluate it on an everyday basis.”

For Urshela’s part, he’s thrilled with the chance. Although he’s played third base in 548 of his 600 major league games coming into this season, he said during spring training that he was eager to get more chances at shortstop because he’s more involved in every play.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity to play shortstop,” Urshela said before Thursday’s opener. “I feel good. I’m really happy. We’ll see how everything goes.”

Urshela said he has worked on improving his body through better nutrition over the past few years, and he thinks that’s made him quick enough to handle the position.

The Angels also have David Fletcher, who seems likely to start at shortstop whenever Urshela can’t, and probably to go in for defense when the Angels are protecting a lead.

DAVIDSON’S ROLE

Left-hander Tucker Davidson is in the bullpen for now, but he is also first in line to be the Angels’ No. 6 starter when that spot first comes up on April 12.

In the meantime, Davidson said he’s comfortable with a relief role.

“I’m going to do whatever it takes,” he said. “We’re all trying to do the same thing, and that’s win every night.”

The tricky part of Davidson’s role is that he might not be needed much in relief, and he’ll have to somehow stay sharp enough to be ready to start. A reliever can’t throw a full bullpen session the way a starter would in between starts, because he might be needed that night. Davidson said he could throw 10 to 15 pitches at less than full intensity, just to stay sharp, and still be able to pitch that night.

CANNING UPDATE

Right-hander Griffin Canning, who is on the injured list with a groin strain, is not expected to be out for long.

“It’s just a little tweak,” Nevin said, adding that “hopefully he’ll be ready in a short time.”

Canning is eligible to come off the injured list on April 11, which would actually make him a candidate to start on April 12. In order for that to happen, he’d likely need to be healthy enough to pitch in some kind of rehab game within a week.

NOTES

Right-hander Chris Rodriguez, who was placed on the injured list because he’s still slowly recovering from 2021 shoulder surgery, is scheduled to face hitters in simulated games a couple more times before the Angels consider taking another step with him. …

Nevin said Shohei Ohtani and Ryan Tepera are the only two Angels pitchers who are using PitchCom to call their own pitches. The catchers will call the pitches for the others. …

Nevin said he feels like all of his players got enough work with the pitch timer during spring training and that he’s not concerned about issues now that the games count. “I think they understand it’s there,” he said. “They know it’s there. The flow of the game has been good. I think it’s gonna be just fine.”

UP NEXT

Angels (LHP Patrick Sandoval, 6-9, 2.91 ERA in 2022) at A’s (RHP Shintaro Fujinami, MLB debut), Saturday, 1:07 p.m., RingCentral Coliseum, Bally Sports West, 830 AM

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