TEMPE, Ariz. -- Erick Aybar spends entire offseasons in his native Dominican Republic, has frequently played in their winter ball leagues and had always wanted to represent his native country in the World Baseball Classic.
So this offseason, when the Dominican team's general manager Moises Alou called him about taking part in the 2013 event, the Angels shortstop hardly even thought twice about it.
"Representing your country, and to be placed on the roster to represent your country, is an incredible honor," Aybar said in Spanish. "… It's a great honor to play with all the stars in the World Baseball Classic, and I think it's very important for a player to do that."
Aybar is the only Angels player taking part in the Classic, which means he'll probably be the only regular getting some playing time in the first week of Cactus League games, which start Feb. 23. In the first week of March, he'll head to San Juan, Puerto Rico, site of Hiram Bithorn Stadium, which is also hosting Venezuela, Spain and Puerto Rico as part of Pool C.
The championship game is March 19 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
The Dominican team, as expected, is stacked, with the likes of Adrian Beltre, Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Edwin Encarnacion, Alexi Ogando, Fernando Rodney and Edinson Volquez all listed on the provisional roster. Jose Reyes is the starting shortstop, so Aybar will serve primarily as a back-up.
"There are a lot of great players in the Dominican," Aybar said. "I think with the team that we have, we have a good chance to get to the finals."
Hamilton's presence won't alter clubhouse policy
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Josh Hamilton's presence -- or, more specifically, past -- won't stop the Angels from continuing to make beer available to their players in the clubhouse after games, manager Mike Scioscia said on Friday.
The Angels provide only beer, and have not made hard liquor available under Scioscia. Over the last few years, to protect against the safety and liability issues that come with players leaving the ballpark intoxicated, the majority of teams have banned alcohol from the clubhouse. A Boston Globe survey in October 2011 said there were only 12 Major League teams providing alcohol to their players, including the Angels, who in 2009 had to deal with the death of pitcher Nick Adenhart at the hands of a drunk driver.
Major League Baseball lets the individual clubs decide whether or not to provide alcohol. The Rangers also allowed beer in the clubhouse while Hamilton was there, and the Angels don't feel a need to change anything, either.
"I don't think that's an issue," Scioscia said. "We've talked for a number of years about things, just for our players and what we can do to maybe help them with their environment, controlling alcohol and things like that. And it won't be an issue. Our guys are all responsible. It's not an issue with Josh."
Hamilton did have two publicized alcohol-related relapses during his five-year stint in Texas, though those incidents took place away from the Rangers' facilities. With the Angels, Hamilton has his accountability partner, Shayne Kelley, by his side. Other than that, Scioscia doesn't expect anything to really be different.
"His support group is there," Scioscia said, "and he understands one thing -- he loves playing this game. He'll be ready."
Kendrick's elbow scope should eliminate 'nuisance'
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Howie Kendrick's right elbow, which underwent a minor arthroscopic procedure during the offseason, wasn't really a pain, per se.
"It was more of a nuisance," the Angels' second baseman described on Friday, prior to the team's first full workout.
Kendrick received a cortisone shot in the elbow prior to the 2012 season, but during the year, and especially down the stretch, it would constantly lock up due to fluid build-up and restrict his range of motion. It's been popping up sporadically the last three years.
"It was just something that I got tired of over time," Kendrick said. "I would [tweak] it, and then it would be like two or three days before it would go away. But I just played with it like that most of the time. For the most part, I'm happy to not have that issue anymore."
The surgery, somewhat similar to what left-handed pitchers C.J. Wilson and Sean Burnett had done during the offseason, only slightly altered Kendrick's workout program, and isn't supposed to have any affect on his Spring Training.
Kendrick, 29, batted .287 with eight homers, 67 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 147 games last season.
"I just had a scope; it wasn't anything major," Kendrick said of the offseason procedure. "They went in, took out the little [calcium] deposits, and then I started rehabbing in November. By the end of December, I was ready to go. So, I've been throwing and hitting since January, which is my normal time."
Angels announce partnership with Ticketmaster
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels, one of three teams who previously opted out of their deal with StubHub, announced a partnership with Ticketmaster on Friday. The two sides will create the "Angels Ticket Exchange," which will serve as the only official online resale marketplace for fans looking to purchase and resell tickets to Angels games.
Season-ticket holders who manage and list their tickets through Ticketmaster will be charged a five percent resale fee, rather than the 15 percent charged elsewhere.
The ticket exchange, which will go live at a later date, can be accessed online through "My Angels Account" for season-ticket holders posting tickets for sale and will use the resale platform powered by Ticketmaster's integrated barcode transfer technology, which validates tickets to assure authenticity, then reissues tickets with new barcodes when they're resold.
Tickets can be purchased and electronically delivered up to the day of the game.
"Angel fans can trust and rely on the program, as it is designed with our most important customers in mind," Angels owner Arte Moreno said in a statement. "Through our partnership with Ticketmaster, our fans will be able to shop the Angels Ticket Exchange with confidence knowing all Angels tickets sold on our official website are authentic and that the program is an extension of the Angel Baseball experience."
• The only two players who have yet to report to camp are third baseman Luis Jimenez (a native of the Dominican Republic) and infielder Luis Rodriguez (Venezuela). Both players are still sorting out visa issues. Jimenez is expected to start the 2013 season in Triple-A, while Rodriguez, obtained on a Minor League deal this offseason, is competing for the back-up infield spot. Without them, the Angels have 62 players in camp.
• Prior to Friday's first full workout, the Angels held a one-hour meeting in the home clubhouse at Tempe Diablo Stadium, and owner Arte Moreno was in attendance. There weren't really any rah-rah speeches, though -- just a typical Day 1 gathering where everyone introduced themselves. Asked about the general message, Scioscia said: "Everyone knows what our goal is, and we're going to work on just putting in that day-to-day work of climbing that ladder one rung at a time and getting to our goal."
• Scioscia doesn't feel Mike Trout, now at about 240, will be affected by coming in about 10 pounds heavier than he played at last season, saying: "I'm sure he'll start [the regular season] at the weight he was at the end of last year. I don't think there's any doubt of that. He's never had an issue with being in shape. This guy, he's a strong kid, he's big, and he's going to carry a little bit of extra weight."
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.