The Angels are finally on the verge of infusing more power into their lineup.
“It’ll be good to have him back,” manager Brad Ausmus said before the Angels concluded their series with the Tampa Bay Rays. “Obviously he’s been an offensive performer for a long time. It’s a big bat to add to our lineup.”
The Angels have treaded water without their middle-of-the-order hitter who belted 30 home runs last season. Entering Sunday, their left fielders had combined for a .706 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, the sixth lowest in baseball. They’d only seen six home runs hit by players at the position. Cesar Puello, who joined the Angels not quite three weeks ago, hit three of them.
The quandary the Angels now face is clearing a spot on the roster for Upton. Neither Puello nor Brian Goodwin, who has slowed after a hot start but still owns a .285 average and .790 OPS, has minor league options remaining on his contract. Upton’s activation will require either a player with minor league options to be sent down or for someone to be designated for assignment.
Quick-healing Simmons on cusp of return
In the next few days, shortstop Andrelton Simmons will face pitchers for the first time since being placed on the injured list because of a Grade 3 sprain of his left ankle May 20. Then he’ll play a few minor league rehab games before being activated.
Ausmus said Simmons, a notoriously fast healer, has been feeling “extremely well” since ramping up his baseball activities in the last week. Asked if such quick progress meant that Simmons could rejoin the Angels by the end of their three-city road trip, Ausmus said, “Yeah, that’s a possibility.”
“I don’t want to jinx him because he’s not all the way back,” Ausmus said, “but it seems like two years in a row, with similar injuries, he’s come back a lot quicker than anticipated.”