Los Angeles Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto readily admits they were probably his top two concerns "leaving the dock out of spring training." The Angels had no consistent leadoff presence and their bullpen was too thin to back an outstanding starting rotation.
Now, however, those two areas have essentially been dealt with -- with the promotion of rookie outfielder Mike Trout in late April and the trade for right-handed reliever Ernesto Frieri in early May.
"I never think in terms of, 'Boy, we solved that one. That's behind us,' " Dipoto said. "It's always a work in progress.
"But right now, I'm very comfortable with where we are as a team, with our personnel, how we line up. The 25-roster players -- Mike (Scioscia) has developed a feel for how they work in a lineup and managing a game. That's really all you're ever trying to do -- find how a roster works."
Trout has emerged as a rising star since his promotion, filling the Angels' need for a leadoff hitter with a .341 batting average, .401 on-base percentage, 35 runs scored and 16 stolen bases.
"He's been an incredible catalyst for us since he came up," Scioscia said of the dynamic 20-year-old.
Frieri (still unscored upon in 18 appearances with the Angels) has gone a long way toward solving the Angels' bullpen problems. Through the first 32 games of the season, the Angels bullpen had a combined 4.70 ERA. Since then, it is just 2.24.