It was only five weeks ago that Andrelton Simmons went rolling down the first base line at Angel Stadium in pain. He lay on the dirt and cradled his left ankle. Team trainers and his manager rushed the field.
The situation seemed dire for the Angels shortstop. He was diagnosed with a grade 3 sprain, the most severe of its kind, on May 20. Sentences like that usually require anywhere between eight and 12 weeks of recovery and sometimes even surgery.
But Simmons, a famously quick healer, was back in the Angels lineup a little more than a month later. The four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop was activated from the 10-day injured list Thursday in time for the start of a four-game series against American League West rivals Oakland Athletics. Right-hander Jaime Barria was optioned to triple-A Salt Lake in a corresponding move.
Simmons began to face pitchers in live batting practice about two weeks ago. He played in two minor league games, was backed off his rehab last weekend and then played in one more game this week. He is not 100% healthy, so he’ll get a few games off before the All-Star break begins July 8. But Simmons is well enough to rejoin a team that, entering Thursday, had gone 19-12 since May 25.
The difference for the Angels this month has been health. They received a boost when Shohei Ohtani heated up at the plate about a month after his return from the injured list. Ohtani is batting .382 with five doubles, a triple, six home runs and 17 RBIs in his last 18 games.
Justin Upton’s recuperation from a turf toe injury served as another spark. Since he was activated June 17, he has collected nine hits in 32 at-bats and the Angels have gone 6-3.
Simmons, who was batting .298 when he grotesquely twisted his ankle on May 19, automatically makes the Angels’ lineup deeper.
“It’s the first time all year we’ve had our full lineup,” Mike Trout said. “I’m really excited about where we are right now. We just have to keep winning series. We have a tough stretch coming up right now. Oakland is in the thick of things, Texas is playing great ball and Houston always up here. This stretch right here before the All-Star break could make or break our season. We’ll see how it goes.”
Angels reliever Keynan Middleton will face hitters Friday for the first time since having Tommy John surgery in May 2018. He could be back in the Angels bullpen in about three weeks. … Mike Trout, who was selected for his eighth All-Star game and his seventh as a starter, was asked again to participate in the home run derby. He declined but said, “Maybe one year, I’ll say to myself, let’s do it. I’m obviously a big fan watching it. It is what it is. I enjoyed watching it as a kid. I just haven’t wanted to do it.” … Asked if he’d like to see last year’s American League rookie of the year in the derby, Trout said of Ohtani, “I think he would probably win. He’s got some of the best power in the league. Obviously, this year is different because he’s coming off Tommy John. I want him to do it. I’m sure he wants to do it. I don’t know how our trainers might like that.” … Right-hander Matt Harvey will start a rehab assignment soon, manager Brad Ausmus said.