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Return of Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon could give Angels a lineup to contend with

Angels outfielder Mike Trout throws during a spring training workout Monday in Tempe, Ariz.
(Matt York / Associated Press)
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Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon played all of 17 games together last season, Trout suffering a season-ending right calf strain on May 17 and Rendon playing through minor injuries for three months before suffering a season-ending right hip impingement in early July.

Ohtani, of course, had a spectacular season, mashing 46 homers and going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts on the mound, a two-way performance that made him a unanimous choice to win the American League most valuable player award.

Trout, a three-time AL MVP who hit .291 with a 1.083 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 45 homers and 104 RBIs in his last full season in 2019, said he felt “great” upon reporting to camp this week and has had “no issues” with the calf.

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Rendon, who hit .319 with a 1.010 OPS, 34 homers and 126 RBIs in his last full season to help the Washington Nationals win the 2019 World Series, underwent hip surgery last August and completed his rehabilitation by mid-January.

The difference between how he feels this spring and last season is “night and day,” Rendon said after Wednesday’s workout. “I don’t feel anybody stabbing me in the groin anymore, that’s good.”

If Ohtani, Trout and Rendon can stay relatively healthy all season, they could form one of baseball’s most lethal middle-of-the-order trios, one that Trout is already beginning to envision three weeks before opening day.

“It’s screaming a lot of fun, especially at the plate,” Trout said. “When Anthony is fully healthy, he’s one of the best hitters in the game, and to have all three of us together … we have a great group.”

Aaron Loup joined an exclusive club last season when he posted a sub-1.00 ERA with at least 50 innings pitched.

March 16, 2022

Rendon, 31, signed a seven-year, $245-million deal with the Angels before 2020 and had a solid pandemic-shortened season, batting .286 with a .915 OPS, nine homers and 31 RBIs in 51 games.

But 2021 was brutal from the start. He suffered a quadriceps injury in April, fouled a ball off his knee in May and suffered a hamstring strain in July.

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Slow to recover from his hamstring injury, Rendon underwent several tests that revealed the hip impingement, which hindered him throughout a season in which he hit .240 with a .712 OPS, six homers and 34 RBIs in 58 games.

Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon reaches for a ball that went for an infield base hit.
Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon reaches for a ball in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 25, 2021.
(Steve Nesius / Associated Press)

The injuries affected Rendon in the batter’s box, where he was unable to rotate his back leg on his swing and generate the necessary torque in his hips, and in the field, where he was unable to sink his right foot into the ground to throw and his range was limited.

“It took a toll on me mentally because I knew something was wrong, but every MRI, every CT scan, was clean,” Rendon said. “It was kind of a relief realizing they found something wrong. I think coming back healthy, my mind should be good, so now it’s just kind of a regular spring training.”

The return of Trout and Rendon will provide better lineup protection for Ohtani, who drew as many walks in the final two months of the season — 48 — as he did in the first four months, and could transform the Angels into AL West contenders.

“We’re trying to play as many games as possible and be healthy, and if we’re all out there at the same time, I think obviously that would be better,” Rendon said. “So hopefully that can happen this year.”

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The Angels have yet to make a major move since the lockout ended, and general manager Perry Minasian says it’s hard to predict whether they will.

March 16, 2022

Extra bases

Griffin Canning, who was expected to compete for the sixth spot in the rotation, suffered a setback in his recovery from a back injury last month and will not be ready for opening day. The right-hander, who missed most of 2021 because of a stress fracture in his lower back, is not expected to throw off a mound for four weeks. … The Angels signed veteran utility infielder Matt Duffy, who hit .287 with five homers and 30 RBIs in 97 games for the Chicago Cubs last season, to a one-year, $1.5-million contract. Duffy, 31, can play all four infield spots and left field. ... A revised schedule will have the Angels finishing the season with three games at Oakland on Oct. 3-5 and playing doubleheaders at Oakland on May 14 and at Seattle on June 18 and Aug. 6. … Benji Gill will be the team’s first-base coach. … Veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki, signed to a one-year, $1.75-million deal, joined the club for workouts Wednesday as did closer Raisel Iglesias, who missed the first two workouts because of personal reasons.

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