TEMPE, Ariz. -- Ian Stewart was so intent on reviving his major league career that he flew across the country just to work on his swing.
Can't blame him, though.
The instructor was Rod Carew.
"Rod is an unbelievable man," Stewart said. "He gave a lot of his time to work with me."
Although Stewart grew up Garden Grove, Calif., the veteran major league infielder lives in North Carolina.
Still he made a couple trips to Orange County to spend up to two weeks at a time working with Carew, a Hall of Famer who spent much of his career with the Angels. Stewart's agent knows Carew and arranged for them to work together.
"I decided I wanted to dedicate my time in the winter to him," Stewart said, "just to try to get my swing back the way it had been."
The connection with Carew and with new Angels hitting coach Don Baylor, who was Stewart's hitting coach with the Colorado Rockies, made it seem like a natural fit for Stewart to sign with the Angels.
Stewart, 28, had to settle for a minor-league deal because his career has been going in the wrong direction. A former everyday third baseman with Colorado, Stewart has dealt with injuries the past three seasons that contributed to a .183 average in the majors in just 52 games.
He spent all of 2013 in the minors, in the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers organizations.
Now Stewart is one of several veteran major-leaguers -- along with John McDonald and Chad Tracy -- who have been invited to camp to compete for a backup infield jobs.
"I think I do fit in because I'm a left-handed hitter with a chance to hit for power," said Stewart, who hit 43 homers in two full seasons with the Rockies. "I can play almost everywhere on the infield, except for shortstop. I don't want to label myself a utility guy because I'm still young, but I can fit that mold."
If Stewart ends up not making the Angels, you can expect him to be much more careful about voicing his opinion about it than he was last year with the Cubs.
Stewart was suspended -- and later released -- after he criticized the Cubs on Twitter for keeping him in the minors.
"I'm not going to say I regret all of what I said and what happened," Stewart said. "Obviously I do to some extent. There are learning experiences for everything you do. ... It was probably a little naive on my part that. I didn't expect the sort of firestorm it would create. It happened. I moved on."
SPOT FOR MORAN? Left-hander Brian Moran has a legitimate shot to be the first Rule 5 pick to make the Angels roster since Derrick Turnbow in 1999.
With powerful left-handed hitters such as Robinson Cano (Mariners) and Prince Fielder (Rangers) in the American League West, and with lefty Sean Burnett still rehabbing from surgery, Moran might find his way into the Angels bullpen.
"There are a lot of big-name lefties in the division, so it seems like a lot of teams put emphasis on left-handers in the bullpen, so that can only help," he said.
Moran, 25, had a 3.61 ERA in the past two years in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Left-handed hitters batted just .235 against him.
The Seattle Mariners left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft. The Toronto Blue Jays drafted him and then traded him to the Angels.
If the Angels want to keep Moran, he must stay on the major league roster all season. If they choose not to keep him on the roster, they have to put him on waivers, and any team except the Mariners could claim him and also have to keep him in the majors.
If he clears waivers, the Angels have to offer Moran back to the Mariners, who can take him back for $25,000, let the Angels keep him or work out a trade for the Angels to keep him. At the moment, the Angels like Moran enough that they probably would try trade to keep him.
GARZA'S VACATION: Matt Garza, who was one of the Angels' primary pitching targets this winter, told reporters in Brewers camp that he was on vacation when the Angels made him a four-year, $52 million offer in December.
"It was an offer and I said, 'I'm on vacation. I'm not thinking about baseball, dude. Me and my wife are enjoying ourselves,' " Garza said.
The Angels quickly pulled back the offer and Garza signed more than a month later with the Brewers for $50 million guaranteed over four years.
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