A year ago this week, Andrelton Simmons returned after missing more than a month because of a torn thumb ligament, the same injury to blame for center fielder Mike Trout's continued absence.
Simmons returned with a batting average in the low-.200s and fragile confidence. Both only worsened in his first week back. So, his feelings at this stage in this season mark a stark contrast in the 27-year-old shortstop's mind.
He entered Friday night hitting .277 with an above-average .748 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, and everything feels new.
"It feels way better to walk up there with a different confidence," Simmons said. "You walk up there and you know that that guy, he might get me out, but he has to earn it, instead of, 'I've gotta earn this hit,' like, OK, let me battle."
Simmons continued: "When you're going good, that's the feeling. When you're not going good..."
"You want to kill yourself," interjected struggling left fielder Ben Revere.
Simmons laughed at his teammate, who was sitting nearby.
"Well, that's another one," he said. "But, you're fighting yourself more when you're not good. Instead of thinking, 'This guy's in trouble, he better make good pitches right here,' you're thinking, 'You better make good pitches, or else I'm gonna hit the ball hard.'"
Canning signs, and he will rest
The Angels signed their second-round selection from this week's amateur draft, UCLA right-hander Griffin Canning, to a bonus near the $1,459,200 league-recommended figure.
General manager Billy Eppler said Canning will not pitch in any minor league games this season because he already threw 119 innings for the Bruins. According to multiple recent reports, Canning's draft stock dropped because of concerns about his medical results, connected to his UCLA workload. Eppler said the Angels were satisfied with his physical examination.
Canning will focus on strength work at the club's spring training complex until December, when he'll commence his throwing program preparation for 2018.
The 21-year-old Orange County native grew up as an Angels fan and named former closer Francisco Rodriguez as his favorite pitcher.
Right-hander Matt Shoemaker is likely to miss his next start because of the forearm tightness that forced him to exit his Wednesday outing. Manager Mike Scioscia said Shoemaker is a "longshot" to start Tuesday in New York, when his rotation spot next arrives. …Right-handed reliever Cam Bedrosian said he is ready to be activated from the disabled list, where he spent nearly two months because of a groin strain. That's likely to happen Saturday. …Veteran right-hander Doug Fister threw 88 pitches over five-plus innings Friday for triple-A Salt Lake. He surrendered seven hits and five runs while walking two and striking out two. ...In relief of Fister, right-hander Huston Street (triceps tightness) threw a perfect inning. He's due to make one more rehab appearance.