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Angels’ Mike Trout locking in at the plate just in time for opening day

Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout waves to the dugout after hitting a two-run home run.
Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout says he’s ready for opening day with some help from Shohei Ohtani’s hitting drills.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

The Angels lost to the Colorado Rockies, 6-5, at Salt River Fields on Thursday in their penultimate spring training game in Arizona.

TROUT HAPPY WITH SWING: Mike Trout went 0 for 2 but overall feels good about his swing entering the season. Though he had a .993 OPS and 17 home runs in 53 games last season, Trout said he was “fighting through” some things at the plate and “cutting off my swing really bad.”

This spring, however, Trout has found drills — including some Shohei Ohtani has done to refine his swing mechanics — that have helped “keep me square at the plate,” he said. “It’s getting there. Seems like some at-bats, I feel good. Some not. But I’m happy with the direction it’s going. It’s refreshing to know what I need to do to get it right.” Trout is hitting .273 with an .839 OPS this spring.

Mike Trout drives in the go-ahead run in the Angels’ 4-3 victory over the Rangers as he continues to pursue to what could be a fourth AL MVP award.

OPENING DAY LINEUP: Joe Maddon didn’t put together Thursday’s batting order — bench coach Mike Gallego did — but said it was “possible” that the same group, which included Albert Pujols at first base and Shohei Ohtani as designated hitter, could take the field opening day.

If Thursday was an opening day preview, the Angels bats looked good. Ohtani hit his fifth home run of the spring. José Iglesias, Max Stassi and Juan Lagares (who entered as a mid-game substitute) also went deep. Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rendon and Pujols hit doubles. Jose Rojas had a triple.

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Shohei Ohtani crushed his first Cactus League home run, a two-run shot that traveled 468 feet to spearhead the Angels’ 6-2 win over the Texas Rangers.

Opening day starter Dylan Bundy made his final outing of the spring, giving up five runs with eight hits and seven strikeouts in 5⅔ innings.

FINAL ROSTER BATTLES: When the Angels optioned infielder Luis Rengifo on Wednesday night, it seemingly opened the door for Rojas to make the opening day roster. Maddon didn’t confirm that decision. but again praised Rojas: “This kid has done everything right.”

The Angels also haven’t said who will claim the final spots in their bullpen, but hard-throwing prospect Chris Rodriguez, who retired the two batters he faced Thursday, is “right there in the mix,” Maddon said.

— Jack Harris

WEDNESDAY

Angels shortstop José Iglesias makes ‘impossible’ face-first play in win over Royals

Los Angeles Angels' Jose Iglesias fields a base hit during a spring training baseball game.
Los Angeles Angels’ Jose Iglesias fields a base hit by Kansas City Royals’ Whit Merrifield during the second inning of a spring training baseball game, Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Angels defeated the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, Wednesday at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

PLAY OF THE DAY: Angels shortstop José Iglesias charged up the middle to intercept a ground ball, falling face-first as he did so, then flipping over and throwing out the runner at first base while sitting on his butt. “A play like that, that’s one of those nearly impossible things,” Manager Joe Maddon said. “That is such an unlikely play. It was spectacular.”

GAME IN BRIEF: Starter José Quintana gave up two runs, one earned, in 4 1/3 innings. His spring earned-run average is 0.64. Relievers Raisel Iglesias, Mike Mayers, Aaron Slegers and Jesse Chavez held the Royals scoreless over the final 4 2/3 innings. … Justin Upton hit a three-run home run, putting the Angels ahead for good. The home run was his fourth in 14 Cactus League games. He is batting .394 this spring, with an .848 slugging percentage.

EXTRA BASES: Maddon said he is “leaning” toward batting Mike Trout third, not second, this season. … The Angels had worked toward but “not finalized” a deal with free-agent reliever A.J. Ramos. Maddon said. Ramos, 34, has pitched in three major league games in the past two seasons, following shoulder surgery. He notched 99 saves for the Miami Marlins and New York Mets from 2015-17. … An arbitrator ruled that pitchers Jaime Barria and Dillon Peters still have one option year remaining, resolving a dispute over how many days in the shortened 2020 season counted as fulfilling an option year. The Angels now can send either pitcher to the minor leagues as many times as they like this season without the risk of losing him on waivers. … Venezuelan reliever Jose Quijada reported to camp, a month late because of visa issues but, he said, 30 pounds lighter than last season. … The Angels returned reliever Jose Alberto Rivera, a Rule 5 draft pick, to the Houston Astros.

UP NEXT: Dylan Bundy and the Angels face the Colorado Rockies Thursday at 1:10 p.m. at Salt River Fields. TV: Fox Sports West. Radio: AM 830.

— BILL SHAIKIN

TUESDAY

Shohei Ohtani continues to have productive spring training

Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani motions to Jose Iglesias after hitting a home run during a spring training baseball game.
Shohei Ohtani extended his spring-training hitting streak to 10 games during the Angels’ 6-4 spring-training loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday in Surprise, Ariz.
(Matt York/Associated Press)

SURPRISE, Ariz. - The Angels lost to the Texas Rangers 6-4 in a spring training game on Tuesday at Surprise Stadium.

ON THE MOUND: Andrew Heaney pitched 4 ⅔ innings in his fourth start of the spring. He gave up eight hits, five runs, one home run and walked a batter, but also tallied six strikeouts and felt his stuff improve as the outing went on.

Relievers Alex Claudio (1⅓ innings) and Dillon Peters (1⅔ innings) both pitched for longer than an inning. Claudio gave up one run on one hit and a walk. Peters allowed one hit with a strikeout. Ty Buttrey also recorded one out in a scoreless appearance.

AT THE PLATE: Shohei Ohtani extended his spring-training hitting streak to 10 games after crushing a groundball through the middle of the infield for a single. He also stole a base and hit a fly ball to the warning track. Taylor Ward had a home run and triple with three RBI. Jared Walsh had his first extra-base hit of the spring, a double. Max Stassi, Jose Rojas and Phil Gosselin also doubled. Gosselin had two hits.

ALTERNATE SITE: The Angels will hold their alternate training site at their spring training facility, Tempe Diablo Stadium, once the regular season begins. Originally, the team had planned to have their alternate site at San Manuel Stadium, the home of their Class A affiliate, in San Bernardino. But with three other teams (the Dodgers, San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks) also holding their alternate sites in Arizona, it might present the opportunity for the Angels’ extras to play games against players from other teams.

The alternate sites were introduced last season as a place for non-MLB players to train in lieu of a minor league season. They will be used to begin this season with the minor league schedule not slated to start until early May.

UP NEXT: The Angels will host the Kansas City Royals at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Wednesday. First pitch is at 1:10 p.m. TV: Fox Sports West. Radio: AM 830.

-- JACK HARRIS

MONDAY

Injury sidelines Angels’ Franklin Barreto; Albert Pujols dealing with wrist contusion

Angels second baseman Franklin Barreto throws against the Colorado Rockies.
Angels second baseman Franklin Barreto throws against the Colorado Rockies on March 6.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Angels beat the Chicago Cubs, 15-7, at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Monday.

PUJOLS HIT ON WRIST: Albert Pujols left Monday’s game with a wrist contusion after getting hit by a pitch. The team said X-rays were negative and that he is day to day. Manager Joe Maddon said he expects Pujols will be fine.

BARRETO SHUT DOWN: Infielder Franklin Barreto will be shut down for four to six weeks after experiencing elbow inflammation. Barreto, who was hitting .350 this spring, had been in contention for one of the last bench spots on the team’s opening day roster. Now, Luis Rengifo now seems like the frontrunner to serve in that utility infielder role, although Maddon said others, including Jose
Rojas, also remain in the mix.

ADELL OPTIONED: Prospect Jo Adell is set to start the season in the minor leagues after being optioned Sunday night (infielder Matt Thaiss and pitchers Kyle Keller and José Suarez were also optioned). Despite an up-and-down camp — Adell is hitting .263 in the Cactus League but has also committed several defensive miscues in right and center field — Maddon has seen progress from the 21-year-old.

“The ability to take all the stuff he’s learned and put it into a game, that’s the next step for him,” Maddon said. “I have a lot of faith. I really like what he’s doing a lot. But he needs to play. He doesn’t need to be on anybody’s bench right now.”

EXTRA BASES: The Angels scored 12 runs in the first two innings against the Cubs, including 10 in the second. All nine Angels starters reached safely, and eight did so multiple times. Mike Trout had two hits and three RBI. Anthony Rendon hit his second home run of the spring … On the mound, Griffin Canning gave up three runs in five innings … In right field, Dexter Fowler committed a miscue for a second straight day, failing to field a line drive to allow a triple.

UP NEXT: Andrew Heaney will start Tuesday when the Angels face the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. TV: Fox Sports West. Radio: AM 830.

-- JACK HARRIS

Shohei Ohtani pitched and hit in the same game against the Padres — and did both well — offering a tantalizing glimpse of what the Angels season might hold.

SUNDAY

Angels’ Albert Pujols plays all nine innings, hits home run against Padres

Angels first baseman Albert Pujols bats against the San Francisco Giants on March 11.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols bats against the San Francisco Giants on March 11. Pujols homered against the Padres on Sunday.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

PEORIA, Ariz. — The Angels lost to the San Diego Padres, 4-1, in a spring training game at Peoria Stadium on Sunday.

PUJOLS PLAYS FULL GAME: Albert Pujols became the first Angels regular to play all nine innings of a spring training game. In his final at-bat in the ninth inning, Pujols launched his first home run of the spring over the left-field wall. After going 2 for 4, he is hitting .394 for the spring.

ON THE MOUND: Ohtani finished an impressive two-way outing by giving up only one run, two hits and collecting five strikeouts in four innings. In the bullpen, closer Raisel Iglesias and relievers Chris Rodriguez and Mike Mayers each threw one scoreless inning. Right-hander Ty Buttrey allowed three runs in one inning, although only one was earned after right fielder Dexter Fowler dropped a fly ball to begin the inning.

Shohei Ohtani pitched and hit in the same game against the Padres — and did both well — offering a tantalizing glimpse of what the Angels season might hold.

RODRIGUEZ’S ROLE: Maddon said he could see Rodriguez, the 22-year-old ranked as the club’s second-best prospect by MLB Pipeline, in either a starting or bullpen role. A starter by trade, the hard-throwing right-hander is bouncing back from a couple injury-plagued minor league seasons this spring and has given up four runs in 6⅓ innings with 10 strikeouts.

“That’s a question that’s been bandied about a bit,” Maddon said. “I don’t know the answer to that specifically. If you look at him right now, he looks like a relief pitcher to me. But that doesn’t mean he can’t start. Just looking at the way he comes after you, the physical stuff, how intimidating he can be, in the short term, it’s very interesting.”

UP NEXT: Griffin Canning will pitch when the Angels host the Chicago Cubs in Tempe on Monday. First pitch is at 1:10 p.m. TV: Fox Sports West. Radio: AM 830.

-- JACK HARRIS


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