Los Angeles Angels bench playing their part in hot start
By David Rice
Much was made about the fact the Los Angeles Angels was going to have limited options. But they say good things come in small packages and that has been the case with this year’s Angel reserves.
The Los Angeles Angels bench consist of Chris Young, a fourth outfielder, Rene Rivera, a back-up catcher, Jefry Marte who can play first or third base, and Luis Valbuena who can do the same. Shohei Ohtani is a part-time starter at designated hitter, due to his pitching. That’s it! There is no one else on the Angels bench.
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So how this group has done is nothing short of spectacular. Luis Valbuena has played so much due to an injury to Ian Kinsler that he is really not a bench player as he filled in 14 games at third base while third baseman Zack Cozart filled in at second base for Kinsler.
Kinsler is back now so Valbuena is back to being a platoon player at first and third base. The good news is that Valbuena has been really good wherever he has played. So far he has hit .291 with three homers and eight runs batted in. He has also been stellar defensively at both first or third base. He has provided the Angels with some pop from the left side of the plate.
Jefry Marte’s Angel career looked to be dead after hitting only .173 with four homers and 11 runs batted in 2017. Marte had a strong Spring and when Ian Kinsler went down, Marte had that small window which he has more than taken advantage of. Marte has hit .379 with four RBIs recording 11 hits in 29 at-bats.
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Chris Young has done well in limited action hitting .273 with two runs batted in. Lastly is back-up catcher Rene Rivera. Rivera has been strong defensively behind the plate, however what has been even more impressive has been his hitting. Rivera is hitting .389 with one homer and five runs batted in. Rivera ended the game last Friday in Kansas City as he threw a strike to nail would-be base stealer Whit Merrifield to record the third out in the bottom of the ninth and end the game with another Angel victory 5-4.
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These four players will see varying amounts of action this season, but if they continue to perform at a high level, it will go a long way in helping the Angel continue to succeed. The Angels will need all 25 men this season to get back to the playoffs and hopefully the bench will have continued success.