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‘That’s a big league play’: Jo Adell’s outfield assist key as Angels defeat Mariners

Angels rookie Jo Adell runs the bases during a spring training game.
Angels rookie Jo Adell didn’t have a hit in the Angels’ victory over the Seattle Mariners Friday night, but his outfield assist helped the Angels preserve the 3-2 win.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Rookie Jo Adell didn’t have a hit in the Angels’ 3-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night. But his outfield assist on a one-out single in the ninth inning helped the Angels improve their record to 11-22.

The Mariners had runners on first and second bases when Tim Lopes, representing the go-ahead run, rifled a hit into right field to cut their 3-1 deficit by one run.

Adell moved swiftly toward the ball, scooped it up and fired toward third base as José Marmalejos, who drew a walk ahead of Lopes, made an unwise turn around second.

Adell’s throw was on target but didn’t have enough zip to reach third on the fly. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons intercepted the ball on the first-base side before it could hit the ground and hurled it to third baseman Anthony Rendon for the second out of the inning.

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“When [Adell] came off the field at the end there, I said, ‘That’s a big league play there, brother,’” manager Joe Maddon said. “And it was. He got to it quickly, unloaded it quickly, got it to Simba. If we don’t make that play, it’s a chance to be an entirely different ballgame.”

Adell, heralded as one of baseball’s top prospects, has received mixed reviews since making his ballyhooed debut Aug. 4. He got off to a fast start, securing a hit in his first at-bat on a slow grounder to the left side of the infield in Seattle. He sprinted out of the batter’s box at a rate of 30.4 feet per second, showcasing his elite speed. Only seven players averaged speeds of 30 feet per second or better last season.

The last-place Angels on Friday night traded Tommy La Stella to the first-place Oakland A’s and will receive infielder Franklin Barreto in exchange.

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But in the weeks since, Adell has most often grabbed attention for questionable plays in right field. During his opening series, he miscommunicated with Mike Trout on a ball that sliced toward the gap in right-center. He took his eye off the sinking liner and it ended up falling for a two-out, two-run hit.

Adell committed a rare four-base error in Arlington, Texas, a few days later on a ball that popped over the fence after hitting his glove.

The misplays piled up quickly. In recent weeks, he has looked more comfortable, yet hesitant.

For instance, he hauled in a long fly ball hit by San Francisco Giants rookie Mike Yastrzemski, slamming his back into the right-field wall, to rob an extra-base hit Aug. 17. Trout called Adell’s name from center field so the rookie could see Trout applaud.

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Players on the Angels and Seattle Mariners stood together and locked arms during the national anthem before the Angels’ 3-2 victory at Angel Stadium.

Six days later, Adell missed a catchable fly ball that was tailing toward the right-field line in Oakland. He was charged with a two-base error.

Adell’s assist Friday certainly provided some relief.

“Sometimes you don’t contribute at the plate, but there’s other ways to contribute to winning,” Maddon said of Adell, who has reached base seven times in his last 31 plate appearances. “And he did that today.”


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