CINCINNATI -- Members of the Angels continue to say Garrett Richards can carve out a prominent role in the bullpen.
It's tough to see when you consider the Angels are deeper there this year, with Ernesto Frieri, Scott Downs, Kevin Jepsen and Sean Burnett all legitimate options in the back end, and Ryan Madson possibly joining them late this month.
But then you consider how good his stuff is, and how well his spring was, and you think: Why not?
"It's going to be made available to him," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "There's going to be times when Garrett's in there in high-leverage situations, and his ability to take more of the opportunity is squarely on him. The way he's throwing the ball now, it's very exciting."
Richards forced his way onto the team this spring by posting a 1.45 ERA in 18 2/3 innings, striking out 12 batters and walking two. The 24-year-old right-hander was stretched out earlier and still has plenty of length, but it'll fade quickly as he pitches in one-inning stints.
For now, the Angels will stay open-minded.
"We all feel that Garrett's arm plays in whatever role he's used, whether he ends up being a starter for us at times this year or he's in the 'pen," manager Mike Scioscia said. "But he's much more than just an innings-eater in the 'pen. His power arm is something that we can take a look at at really any time during the game. Where his role is in the bullpen, we'll see how not only the flow of the games go but how the flow of the season starts out."
Richards was hit-and-miss while serving as a reliever down the stretch last season, ultimately finishing with a 5.82 ERA through 17 innings. But he says he's a lot more confident this year, and he feels consistency within a role -- as opposed to starting most of last year, then transitioning to relief work -- will go a long way.
"Having a routine is important to me," Richards said, prior to keeping the Reds scoreless and preserving a tie through 1 2/3 innings on Monday. "I feel like the closer I stay to a routine will only help me."
Trout gets 'chills' in first Opening Day experience
CINCINNATI -- It's easy to forget -- with all the accolades, attention and awards he's accumulated in such a short amount of time -- that Opening Day really means something to Mike Trout.
He's only 21, coming off his rookie season, and on Monday afternoon, when introduced as the leadoff hitter and center fielder for the Angels at Great American Ball Park, he experienced one for the first time.
"It's a feeling you really can't explain," Trout said in the visiting clubhouse a few hours before game time. "Just sitting here, watching TV and everything, seeing all the Opening Days and stuff going on -- it makes you feel good inside. Every so often, you think about it and start getting chills. It's a pretty cool feeling."
W: Lowe L: Hoover SV: Frieri
Cincinnati, home to the first Interleague game to start a season and still an Opening Day mecca, is a legit plane flight away from Trout's roots in South Jersey, so he only had about 10 members of his family in attendance on Monday -- which pales greatly in comparison to the droves that came out to Baltimore and New York last season.
But they'll all be watching in Millville, N.J. And if they can't, a local radio station, WSNJ-AM 1240, reached an agreement with KLAA-AM to rebroadcast their feed from Anaheim for all 162 Angels games this season.
"I got a lot of text messages from people, wishing me luck and all that stuff," Trout said. "It's going to be a good night for me and my family, and the team."
Trout didn't have an Opening Day last year. Heck, he hardly had a first month. A nasty flu and shoulder tendinitis robbed him of a Spring Training, and the Angels' glut of outfielders made it an easy decision to send Trout to Triple-A for almost all of April.
That didn't stop Trout from having a memorable year, with a .326 batting average, 49 steals, 30 homers, a 10.9 wins above replacement score and an American League Rookie of the Year Award.
But it robbed him of this experience.
"Coming to the field today, seeing all the fans outside with the parade and everything, they have a great atmosphere here," Trout said. "It's going to be fun."
Snyder accepts assignment to Triple-A
CINCINNATI -- The Angels were able to put Hank Conger on the Opening Day roster and maintain their catching depth in the Minors on Monday, when Chris Snyder informed the team he would accept his assignment to Triple-A.
Snyder was signed on March 18, shortly after being released by the Nationals, to provide veteran insurance while Conger struggled with his throwing. Snyder could opt out of his Minor League deal if not on the Opening Day roster. Saturday, he was informed Conger -- having a hot spring at the plate and seemingly past his throwing issues -- would open the season as Chris Iannetta's backup.
Snyder, 32, said he would look for a Major League job elsewhere but knew he was unlikely to find one so close to Opening Day.
The Angels will now have three catchers on the Triple-A Salt Lake roster, with Snyder, John Hester and Luke Carlin rotating behind the plate, on the bench and at designated hitter. Snyder will also play some games at first base.
"I felt good, and they went with what they had in-house," Snyder said Saturday. "I have no complaints about that. I feel good, I'm healthy. I'm going to keep playing, wherever it is -- whether it's here in Salt Lake or if someone else needs it. But I'm by no means done."
• Ryan Madson is taking a break from throwing while experiencing a little tightness in his surgically repaired right elbow, but he could throw off a mound again within the next couple days. Madson's last bullpen session came Wednesday morning, when he threw 40 pitches, mixed in changeups for the first time and went full intensity on his last few throws.
• Scioscia reiterated that he "would anticipate" Albert Pujols being able to play all three games at first base in this Opening Series in Cincinnati. The Tuesday off-day, and the ability to be used as a designated hitter in Texas over the weekend, helps that cause.
• Jered Weaver, who pitched six innings of one-run ball against the Reds on Monday, now has a 1.93 ERA in 32 2/3 innings on Opening Day. The ace right-hander is the second pitcher, along with Mike Witt, to make five Opening Day starts for the Angels.
• The Angels have won nine of their last 10 Opening Day games and five in a row, which is a franchise record. They won four in a row from 1972-75 and 2004-07.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.