TEMPE, Ariz. -- After trading Mark Trumbo to Arizona for an infusion of pitching in the offseason, the Los Angeles Angels are hoping to replace some of his 34 home runs with a one-man combination of Julio Franco and Benjamin Button.
Raul Ibanez faded after the All-Star break in Seattle last season, but still hit 29 homers and posted a .487 slugging percentage. Ibanez tied Ted Williams for the most home runs by a 41-year-old, and became the 137th member of MLB's 300-homer club with a solo shot off the Angels' Ernesto Frieri in late September.
True, it's only spring training, but the Angels had to like what they saw Tuesday when Ibanez went deep against Rangers ace and reigning American League strikeout champion Yu Darvish. Ibanez is physically ripped, a workout warrior and extremely diligent with his diet and nutrition, so he's going to maximize his athletic gifts until the day he retires.
"He's shown he still knows his way around the batter's box," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "His power is very evident. He's not as dangerous as he was 7-8 years ago, but he's made adjustments in his game to compensate. He's still a very good offensive player."
Ibanez also has a reputation as a terrific teammate, and he's not the only new player in Angels camp who fits that description. The Angels also brought in Carlos Pena, Chad Tracy and John McDonald, 30-somethings who've played for winning teams, understand their roles and always bring a little extra to the team dynamic.
Although Scioscia likes what the veterans provide, he's not one to get carried away with the whole "clubhouse chemistry" thing.
"The first thing is the on-field chemistry -- how your lineup flows, what a guy can bring offensively, what the pitcher catcher-relationship is, the defensive chemistry. That's the most important thing," Scioscia said.
"The sidebar to that is, guys like Raul Ibanez and John McDonald have tremendous makeup. They understand the game and they love the game. There's no doubt that rubs off on the practice field. It rubs off sitting next to somebody as they prepare for their day, and it rubs off while they're playing games. That's a very positive thing."
While Ibanez will be the Angels' primary DH and back up Josh Hamilton in left field, the other veterans are all trying to win jobs. McDonald is competing with Andrew Romine, a homegrown product who is out of options, for a spot as a utility infielder. Along with Pena and Tracy, the Angels also have Brennan Boesch, Ian Stewart, Collin Cowgill, J.B. Shuck, Luis Jimenez and former Oakland A's first-rounder Grant Green in the mix for bench roles.
Throw in the offseason acquisition of David Freese, and general manager Jerry DiPoto has assembled a deeper, more balanced roster that might be better equipped to help the Angels navigate an injury to one of their main cogs.
"I don’t think Jerry brought anybody in here who wasn't going to have a chance to make us deeper and better," Scioscia said. "It may be tough for some individuals, but it's going to be great for our team. This is going to be a very competitive camp."