A day after getting back one of their most prolific power bats in Justin Upton, the Angels on Tuesday sent injured shortstop Andrelton Simmons on a rehabilitation assignment to rookie-level Orem, Utah.
Simmons has been on the injured list for a month recovering from a Grade 3 sprain of his left ankle, which he sustained May 20. Such injuries usually take more than six weeks to heal and sometimes require surgery. But Simmons, a famously quick healer who came back from a Grade 2 ankle sprain within 11 days last season, was taking ground balls at Angel Stadium two weeks after he overextended his stride and grotesquely turned his ankle trying to beat out a ground ball.
Simmons faced Angels pitchers Monday for the first time since the injury, making 11 plate appearances in his effort to catch up on offense. To get his defense up to speed, Simmons played five innings in his first game with the Orem Owlz and went two for two, and he will play seven innings the next game. The Angels will determine after those outings whether Simmons needs more game repetitions.
“Hopefully in the next few days we get Simba back and have that whole lineup we were hoping for opening day,” Mike Trout said Monday night at Rogers Centre after the Angels played with Upton in the lineup for the first time this season and defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 10-5.
To activate Simmons, the Angels will have to shuffle their roster again. A likely scenario could include them retaining Wilfredo Tovar, who is out of minor league options, as the backup infielder and optioning rookie Luis Rengifo to triple-A Salt Lake.
Rengifo has held his own on defense. He’s consistently made smart plays, like one against Tampa Bay when he let a line drive to shallow right field fall and grabbed the ball on a hop to turn a double play instead of settling for one out. But he could benefit from playing every day in the minor leagues. Before Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jays, the 22-year-old had only five hits in his last 30 at-bats. He’d also struck out 12 times and drawn one walk, an uncharacteristic ratio for a player whose patience at the plate was key to his rise from Class A to triple A last year.
“I think right now he’s going out of the zone to try to hit pitches that really aren’t pitches he wants to swing at,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Something he was very good at coming up through the minors last year was not chasing outside of the zone. I think if he could get back to that, he’d be outstanding.”
Right-hander J.C. Ramirez, recovering from Tommy John surgery, gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings for Salt Lake in his latest rehab start Tuesday. It was his second outing in a row throwing more than 80 pitches. The Angels haven’t decided when he’ll return to the team, but they must reinstate him from the 60-day injured list by June 29. Ausmus said Monday, “The primary focus is to make sure he’s healthy, but yes we obviously would like him to be performing well.” ... Upton received a scheduled day off Tuesday, the night after making his season debut. The Angels still got power from a left fielder. Brian Goodwin launched a go-ahead home run in the fifth inning of their 3-1 win. ... Trevor Cahill came out fine after throwing his first session since being placed on the injured list because of elbow soreness June 9.