The Angels will play the Houston Astros on Friday for the first of 10 scheduled meetings against their American League West foe. They tapped right-hander Matt Andriese, a Redlands native, for the start at Angel Stadium and inserted Tommy La Stella, an All-Star at second base last season, into the lineup at first base.
La Stella has only played 5 1/3 professional innings at first base since being drafted in 2011, but the Angels started grooming him to play the position upon trading for him in November 2018. He took regular reps there during spring training and summer camp this year.
Angels manager Joe Maddon said La Stella, who went five for 21 with four walks and two doubles during the Angels’ first two series, has become increasingly more comfortable at first in recent weeks. His progress enabled Maddon to start switch-hitting infielder Luis Rengifo at second base.
Rengifo hit .238 with 18 doubles, three triples and seven homers as a rookie last season.
“Luis Rengifo needs to play baseball,” Maddon said. “It’s hard to keep that kid on the bench all the time when he’s ready to rock and roll.”
Don’t expect the Angels to retaliate against the Astros for their sign-stealing transgressions in 2017. Maddon implored his team to “be civil about” the situation in spring training, and reiterated Friday that he didn’t want the Angels “to be an enforcer.”
“I would prefer the method we go out there and play,” Maddon said. “And just beat them straight up and just get this thing moving along in the right direction. … I’m hoping that we can kind of — I don’t want to use the term ‘rise above it’ necessarily but just put it in our rearview mirror.”
Angels’ starting lineup for Friday’s game: