Los Angeles Angels Matt Shoemaker takes a big step in rehab.

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 14: Matt Shoemaker
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 14: Matt Shoemaker /

With all the hype around Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout and his progress he is making toward returning, pitcher Matt Shoemaker‘s rehab has been lost in the shuffle.

Los Angeles Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker took a major step in returning to Anaheim Tuesday night as he pitched three strong innings for the Angels Single-A Affiliate, the Inland Empire 66’ers. Shoemaker has been out since mid-June with a right forearm extensor strain and is trying to get back to help the team as soon as he can.

However, with Shoemaker doing his rehab assignment for the 66’ers at the same time as Trout you may not hear about it that much because of the popularity Trout has across the country. Shoemaker however is only concerned with one thing: getting back on the mound for the Angels.

More from Halo Hangout

“My arm felt pretty good tonight, hopefully we can just build off of this and see how it feels tomorrow and go from there,” Shoemaker said. “I’m always anxious, because I want to get back, want to contribute and help our team win most importantly.”

Shoemaker added, “That’s what I love about our team, you’ve seen what we have done without Trout, but the sky is the limit with him. We have a great team and great potential we just have to go out there play in the second half.”

Barring any set backs Shoemaker is hoping to be ready to pitch after the All-Star Break. It won’t be a moment too soon for the Angels who have been struggling as of late losing five of their last six games.  The starting pitching has been a major issue during that time with only Ricky Nolasco making it past the fifth inning in those games. Shoemaker has pitched fairly well so far in 2017 going 6-3 with a 4.52 ERA in 14 starts with 69 strikeouts in 77 innings of work.

Want your voice heard? Join the Halo Hangout team!

Write for us!

Shoemaker made 38 pitches in his three innings of work 24 of them for strikes. He struck out five batters and gave up only two hits and no runs. He got a little scare in the first inning as Stockton Ports’ shortstop Eli White hit a line drive up the middle that hit Shoemaker on his right butt cheek, but he was able to recover and throw White out at first base.

“It got me right in the butt, a good spot to get me,” Shoemaker said with a smile. “I should have caught it, but it’s all good.”

After allowing a lead-off single to Ports’ center fielder Skye Bolt, Shoemaker retired the next eight batters, five via strikeout, before Bolt got a questionable infield single in his second at-bat.

Bolt hit a hard shot between first and second base which Angels 2016 top draft pick Matt Thaiss dove to his right and snared. Thaiss then made a good throw to Shoemaker, who was covering first on the play and Shoemaker dropped the ball as he was tagging first base allowing Bolt to reach safely. The play was scored a hit, which was a generous decision.

“He (Thaiss) threw me a nasty sinker,” Shoemaker said with a grin. “No, really he made an unbelievable play. He threw it got me right here (in the glove) I should have caught it, but I turned my wrist over and it popped out of my glove. If I stiff-wristed it’s an out.”

More from LA Angels News

However that is one of the few things that Shoemaker did wrong in his outing and he said he will see how his arm feels tomorrow and hopefully take the next step toward a return.

That next step for Shoemaker will most likely be another start for the 66’ers on Sunday.  If all goes well in the next week Shoemaker will re-join the rotation after the All-Star Break.

As for his critique of some the Angels top prospects Matt Thaiss and Taylor Ward the 2016 and 2015 top draft picks, Shoemaker was very impressed.

“They (Ward and Thaiss) have great potential, that’s what I love about this game is everyone has the potential to improve through hard work,” Shoemaker said. ” Ward and Thaiss have a ton of potential. They are well put together and are fun to watch.”

Taylor Ward, who caught Shoemaker for the first time tonight, was very impressed.

“It was awesome to catch him. Every time a big leaguer comes back and you t get to catch him it is always so much fun,” Ward said of Shoemaker. “They know what they are doing and just the presence of them. It’s a sneak preview of the future, hopefully. He looked really good. His fastball was and all of his off-speed pitches were good especially his split It was a good out pitch for him.”

For Shoemaker he has had a rocky ride over his four years in the majors and six years before that in the minors.  Shoemaker said that in times where things are not going well such as being on the DL he has one person he turns to.

“That’s huge (Shoemaker’s faith in God). That’s the number one, especially when you’re not playing and are on the DL it’s rough,” Shoemaker said. “So if you stay mentally strong, God keeps you in that position, keeps you strong and all that.”

Next: Mike Trout inching closer to returning. His thoughts on his rehab.

Hopefully everything will continue to go well for both Shoemaker and Trout and their return will help spark the Angels in the second half as they make a run for the post-season. We will soon find out.