ANAHEIM, Calif. -- J.B. Shuck has been the most pleasant surprise in an otherwise disappointing season for the Los Angeles Angels.
Shuck, who was released by the Houston Astros last October and signed a minor league deal with the Angels, has played just about every day. He's hitting .296 after going 2-for-4 in Thursday's victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, playing solid defense and showing outstanding speed.
"I'm baffled as to why the Astros got rid of him," Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos said. "He's played outstanding here and I think he would have been a great fit over there. I think they probably wish they had him. He's done a great job in every role he has been in."
Shuck has worked his way up from non-roster invitee to major league backup to everyday player in six months.
"He's starting that process of creating a role for yourself (in the majors), getting more playing time," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's definitely put his best foot forward."
How he fits in the future remains to be seen. His opportunities have been provided by injuries this season. Shuck wouldn't have a spot if the Angels had all of their core players who play outfield or designated hitter -- Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos, Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo.
Although Shuck seems to have earned a big league job, at least as a backup, for 2014, he is taking nothing for granted.
"I don't look at it as if I've been good and I should get a spot," Shuck said. "I'm going to go into the offseason and get better and try to come in and prove myself again. I don't want to take any chances."