MLB notebook: With Kendrick out of mix, Angels auditioning at 2B

For the first time since 2006, the Los Angeles Angels will begin the season with a new second baseman.

Four candidates face a wide-open competition to replace Howie Kendrick, one of the Angels’ most consistent hitters and an American League All-Star in 2011.

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Kendrick, a career .292 hitter, went to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a December trade for left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Holdover Grant Green and newcomer Josh Rutledge will receive most of the early attention. The competition marks Green’s best chance to become a regular after serving in a utility role the past two seasons.

Green, 27, saw action at every infield position last year and even made 17 appearances in left field while batting .273 in 43 games. In 2009, the Oakland Athletics selected Green as a shortstop with the 13th overall pick in that June’s amateur draft.

“I do feel really comfortable at second,” said Green, who has played 55 of his 79 career games in the field as a second baseman. “I feel if I have the footwork for third base and shortstop, it will come that much easier at second because you can wait back more.

“There’s a reason why I’m here. I can play. Let’s go out and prove it.”

Rutledge, who will turn 26 on April 21, has never played a full season in the major leagues. Another converted shortstop, Rutledge hit .269 with seven triples in 105 games for the Colorado Rockies last year but struck out 83 times in 309 at-bats. He came to the Angels for left-hander Jairo Diaz.

CARDS’ LYNN LEAVES GAME

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn left Sunday’s spring training game against the Miami Marlins in the second inning with a left hip-flexor strain, the club announced.

Lynn was making his first start in spring training, and the right-hander retired the side in order in the first inning.

But after Lynn walked the first two batters in the second inning and the third batter reached base on an error, manager Mike Matheny and a trainer came to the mound to speak with Lynn.

After a discussion, Lynn was removed from the game.

Lynn will be reevaluated Monday to determine the extent of injury, but he did not seem particularly concerned afterward.

“Hopefully, we can get it stretched out the way we need to and I’ll be able to go next time,” said Lynn, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Two days from now, I expect to throw my bullpen (session) and I expect to make my next start.”

Lynn went 15-10 with a 2.74 ERA last season. He is 48-27 over the past three seasons.

A-ROD GETS START AT THIRD

Alex Rodriguez returned to third base for the New York Yankees on Sunday, starting at his old position for the first time in a live game since Sept. 10, 2013.

A-Rod, who is coming off a yearlong suspension for performance-enhancing drug use, only got one chance at third against the Washington Nationals, fielding a grounder to end the third inning.

The 39-year-old Rodriguez batted twice before being replaced to start the sixth inning. He blooped a ground-rule double to right field in the second inning and struck out in the fourth. He was removed after five innings.

Rodriguez, who is 2-for-6 this spring, had served as a designated hitter in his first two games. The Yankees also plan to try Rodriguez at first base -- a position he has never played in a game.

The Yankees re-signed third baseman Chase Headley to a four-year, $52 million contract earlier this winter to start at the position.

Rodriguez, who is owed $61 million over the next three years, has hit 654 home runs in his 20-year career to rank fifth on the all-time list. In addition to sitting out last season, Rodriguez played in just 44 games in 2013 while recovering from hip surgery and batted .244 with seven home runs.

ROMO CLEARED TO PITCH

San Francisco Giants reliever Sergio Romo was given the green light to start pitching in spring training.

The Giants former closer has been bothered by shoulder soreness during the early part of camp.

The 32-year-old Romo compiled a 6-4 record with 23 saves last season.



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