By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
"It's really the first Spring Training where I feel like I'm in the mix, competing for a [roster] spot," the Angels' outfielder said. "The last couple of years I could see what was happening. Coming into camp this year, it's a little more exciting."
With Gary Matthews Jr. in New York, at least one and possibly two Halos outfield roles are available, depending on how many pitchers the team carries into the season.
Evans, infielder Brandon Wood and catcher Bobby Wilson -- teammates in recent years at Triple-A Salt Lake -- are out of Minor League options, meaning the Angels must have them on the 25-man Opening Day roster or risk losing them to another club.
Evans, a 28-year-old Georgian acquired in a 2006 deal with the Cardinals for Jeff Weaver, was 2-for-7 with the Angels in 2009 as a September callup.
After lining out and grounding out in two at-bats on Wednesday against the Reds while playing center field, Evans is 3-for-12 (.250) this spring.
"He has the ability to play in the Major Leagues," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We have some talented guys who are competing for jobs, and it will probably come down to the end of Spring Training to see where it goes."
With his size (6-foot-3, 205 pounds), grace and athleticism in the outfield and his powerful stroke, Evans has drawn comparisons to Dale Murphy, the Braves star whose humility made him one of the game's most popular players.
When he's locked in, Evans has been known to launch baseballs. He went deep 26 times last season in Salt Lake while driving in 90 runs, career bests in both departments. He batted .291 with a .520 slugging percentage.
"Fortunately, I was able to stay healthy in a very important season," Evans said. "I pretty much missed 2008 [with shoulder injuries]. I might have come back too soon and re-injured it.
"It feels good to come into camp healthy and able to do some things I wasn't able to do in 2008."
Evans has the range to play center and the arm to handle right. He also has speed, having stolen 28 bases last season in 33 attempts.
"Right now, my ideal situation is that I want to play here," he said. "I like the staff, everything about the organization. It is exactly where I want to be. I'm competing for a spot here. I want nothing more than to be in this clubhouse."
Having played alongside Reggie Willits and seen the superb spring of Michael Ryan, another outfielder playing his way into the picture, Evans knows it won't be easy nailing down a spot.
Evans also knows there figure to be a number of clubs intrigued by an athlete who can hit, run and field the way he can.
"No need to worry about it," Evans said. "This is a tough club to make. It's just part of it. Reggie and I have joked around this spring. Every time he does something, he looks at me. We're having fun with it.
"If anything, it makes us both better. We're competing but we're also supporting each other. That takes some of the pressure off. We're such different players, we really have different roles."
Willits' skills are those of a leadoff man. He works counts, bunts, goes the other way, steals bases. Like Evans, he can play all three outfield roles.
"I just want to stay healthy and keep working," Evans said. "Things always have a way of working themselves out."