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Angels

Angels call up Wilfredo Tovar, former Mets infield prospect

Kansas City Royals’ Whit Merrifield (15) dives back safely on a pickoff attempt as Los Angeles Angel
Kansas City’s Whit Merrifield dives back on a pickoff attempt as Los Angeles Angels’ Wilfredo Tovar makes the catch during a spring training game in Surprise, Ariz., on March 7.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

Former Mets infield prospect Wilfredo Tovar, 27, joined the Angels from triple-A Salt Lake on Friday.

Tovar, who had a .733 on-base-plus slugging percentage and batted .285 in 51 games for the Bees, has not played in the major leagues since 2014. The Angels made room for him on the 40-man roster by designating catcher Dustin Garneau for assignment. In a related move, backup catcher Kevan Smith was activated from the concussion list.

Tovar received plenty of playing time in Angels spring training and acquitted himself well defensively. He also showed some pop with the bat, belting two home runs.

Right-hander Jaime Barria, who pitched five innings in relief Thursday night, was optioned back to Salt Lake. With the bullpen rested, the Angels don’t need an eighth reliever for the time being. Still, left-hander Dillon Peters, who is on the triple-A roster, was in the Angels clubhouse Friday. No corresponding move was immediately announced.

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What they do need is backup defense. The Angels have a short bench and no versatile backup infielder. Primarily a shortstop, Tovar has played all infield positions in the minor leagues except first base.

Tovar was signed by the Mets out of Venezuela in 2007. He signed as a minor league free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016 and with the Angels in November. He’s played in 1,159 minor league games and only nine major league games.

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