Tyler Wade says joining Angels has been ‘a breath of fresh air’ for him
It’s an opportunity he has waited his entire professional career for, and the fact that it’s coming so close to home, with a team he grew up rooting for and a manager who values his skill set makes it all the sweeter for Tyler Wade.
“I love it here,” said Wade, an Angels infielder who will open the season in a second-base platoon with Matt Duffy. “I feel it’s like a breath of fresh air for me.”
A trade from the New York Yankees to the Angels last November was like oxygen to the former Murrieta Valley High standout.
Wade spent all of 2020 and 2021 in the big leagues but started only 64 games and accrued 215 at-bats, his path to more playing time blocked by Yankees infielders Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu.
2022 MLB season preview
Wade won’t be a full-time starter in Anaheim, but as a left-handed-hitting platoon partner, he should get the majority of starts, at least to begin the season.
And as a speedy contact hitter in the lineup of Joe Maddon, who stresses on-base ability, aggressive baserunning and situational hitting more than most managers, Wade won’t have to worry about being a Bronx Bomber.
“I think this fits me to a T,” Wade, 27, said. “Small ball, that’s my game. You’re not gonna pay me to hit 30 home runs. You’re gonna pay me to be on base in front of the big boys and steal a base and create runs.”
Wade, who entered Sunday night’s Freeway Series game against the Dodgers with a .423 spring average (11 for 26), has flashed his plus-speed this spring, legging out several infield hits and stealing four bases in four attempts. He’s been successful on 30 of 38 stolen-base attempts in the big leagues.
His sprint speed of 29.1 feet-per-second last season ranked 37th in the major leagues, according to Baseball Savant. The only faster current Angels were Jo Adell (29.9) and Mike Trout (29.3).
“I’ll go first to third, steal second, wreak havoc … that’s my job, to get on base and have [pitchers’] attention more on me,” Wade said. “That might force them to make a mistake.”
The Angels have designated outfielder Justin Upton for assignment, marking the second year in a row the team is parting ways with a high-paid veteran.
Wade, who can also play shortstop, third base and three outfield spots, likes the talent and vibe in his new clubhouse.
“I think this group is really hungry,” Wade said. “It’s something I felt early in New York, the same kind of hunger. I don’t want to say desperation, but it’s, ‘Hey, we have a chance to do something special.’ ”
If the Angels contend for their first playoff berth since 2014, Wade could play a more prominent role than he did with the Yankees.
“I’ve worked my ass off for the last five years to stay ready for an opportunity that I wasn’t able to get in New York,” Wade said. “So being home and having an opportunity here, man, I couldn’t be more excited.”
Angels right-hander Noah Syndergaard looked extremely sharp in his final exhibition start Sunday night. Dodgers ace Walker Buehler? Not so much.
Syndergaard gave up one run and two hits, struck out seven and walked one in five innings of a 5-1 win over the Dodgers in Angel Stadium, finishing six of his whiffs with fastballs of 95 or 96 mph. Of his 64 pitches, 48 were strikes.
“As far as free and easy delivery goes, tonight is probably the best I’ve felt since 2019,” said Syndergaard, who was limited by Tommy John surgery to two innings in the past two seasons. “I’m very pleased with tonight’s results. I just want to continue that progression and momentum into the regular season.”
Buehler, who will start Friday’s season opener at Colorado, gave up five runs and five hits in five innings, Taylor Ward hitting a two-run homer off of him in the first and Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon adding solo homers in the fifth.
“I threw some good pitches, I threw some bad ones, they hit some out,” said Buehler, who threw 85 pitches. “It is what it is.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the trade of outfielder AJ Pollock to the Chicago White Sox for closer Craig Kimbrel will give utility man Edwin Ríos “a runway to make this club, but I’m not going to set that in stone.” Roberts also said the Dodgers will open with 16 pitchers and 12 position players.
The ascent of Ríos, who entered Sunday with a .389 spring average (seven for 18) and three homers, prompted the demotion of infielder Jake Lamb to minor league camp and all but assures outfielder Kevin Pillar will not make the opening-day roster.
Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman, a graduate of Orange El Modena High, was looking forward to playing in Angel Stadium, but he remained home Sunday night because of what Roberts called “a 24-hour bug.” … Angels shortstop David Fletcher sat out his third straight game because of hip tightness. The injury is not believed to be serious, and Fletcher is expected to play in Thursday night’s season opener against Houston.
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