ANAHEIM -- The excruciatingly difficult and painfully inevitable roster decision finally came down early Saturday afternoon, when Angels manager Mike Scioscia called Grant Green into his office and told him he'd be the one going back down to Triple-A.
Green was optioned despite his .359/.373/.469 slash line in 22 games and C.J. Cron stays with his .299/.322/.517 slash line, with right-handed reliever Cory Rasmus called up from Triple-A so the Angels can get back to a seven-man bullpen.
Green seemingly had the upper hand because of his versatility, which allows him to fill in at second base, left field, shortstop and, to a lesser extent, both corner-infield spots. But with Raul Ibanez continuing to struggle at the plate, the Angels need someone to get a lot of plate appearances at designated hitter -- a spot at which Cron has produced, and one that negates Green's versatility.
"Every player on our roster has pluses they bring to our team, but right now, C.J.'s really hitting well in the clutch, he's providing some first-base depth, which will help us maneuver Albert [Pujols] a little bit when he needs to DH, and I think that the element of power is also something that C.J. can bring," Scioscia said. "You never know what needs your club's going to have from week to week, but right now we feel like this is the best roster to move forward with."
Another option was to release Ibanez, who signed an incentive-laden $2.5 million contract in the winter and is batting .143/.249/.259 more than two months into the season. But the Angels will continue to be patient with the 42-year-old left-handed hitter, who can at the very least serve as a valuable late-game pinch-hitter if he's right.
Scioscia said "there's going to be plenty of righties" against whom Ibanez will start at DH, but the Angels will face an opposing lefty in three of their next four games, including Chris Sale on Saturday. Cron figures to get the majority of the at-bats at DH moving forward, but Scioscia wouldn't commit to that.
"I don't think it's much different than we've talked about," he said. "When a guy is performing well, obviously he's going to get more looks. And when a guy is struggling, maybe you take him off that horse for a little bit to let him catch his breath. That's kind of where we're at right now."
Cron, ranked third in the Angels' system by MLB.com, has posted an .889 OPS against righties, a .779 OPS against lefties and a 1.037 OPS with runners in scoring position.
On Saturday, the 24-year-old right-handed hitter was finally able to breathe a little easier.
"A little bit," Cron said. "They make decisions at any moment, really, so you have to continue to play baseball and help the team."
• Dane De La Rosa wasn't an option to be called up when the Angels went back to a seven-man bullpen on Saturday because he needs to be in the Minors 10 days since his option date, which occurred Tuesday.
Scioscia said De La Rosa, who has a 4.50 ERA since rejoining Triple-A Salt Lake on May 21, "is going to be as much a part of our bullpen this year as he was last year," but he's "got to get his game where it needs to be first."
• The Angels recently signed veteran starter Joel Pineiro, who gave up seven runs (six earned) in five innings during his debut for Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday. Pineiro, who's basically taking the place of Wade LeBlanc with regard to organizational pitching depth, hasn't been in the big leagues since his second season with the Angels in 2011, when he posted a 5.13 ERA in 145 2/3 innings. The 35-year-old right-hander pitched for the Cubs' Double-A affiliate earlier this season.
• Right-handed-pitching prospect R.J. Alvarez, ranked seventh in the Angels organization by MLB.com, joined the Double-A Arkansas Travelers on Saturday after spending the previous three weeks in Arizona rehabbing from elbow discomfort. Alvarez started the season with 19 scoreless innings out of the Double-A bullpen, striking out 28 batters and walking five.
• The Angels commemorated Albert Pujols' 500th home run at Angel Stadium on Saturday, with an on-field pregame ceremony attended by Scioscia, Arte and Carole Moreno, chairman Dennis Kuhl and Pujols' former manager, Tony La Russa. Pujols was presented with a special shadowbox and La Russa gave a speech.
"He always just plays the game," La Russa said. "He never plays for stats or for the money or fame. And as a teammate, we all appreciated that. He would do whatever he needed to do to win a game."
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.