The Angels season has officially begun, as pitchers and catchers reported to Tempe, Arizona today to begin their offseason workouts.
And where there are Angels players, there is news about them being reported. Throughout the day, we received snippets of information from coaches, players, and the front office. While it was only pitchers and catchers reporting today (the rest of the Angels’ Spring Training schedule can be found here), a lot of the news was about position players today.
Shohei Ohtani Injury Update
Late in the morning, Brad Ausmus gave an update on the rehab of star player Shohei Ohtani. While the Angels’ new manager would not give a definite time-table for Ohtani’s return, he did offer some speculation.
"“I’m not going to put a date on it, but we’re thinking May, sometime in May,” the Angels manager said. “That’s assuming everything goes well. This is new territory. We’re dealing with a guy who DH’s on a regular basis and is a starting pitcher. It’s new territory, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. We want to protect him long term doing both. If we need to push it back, we’ll push it back.”"
In terms of where he is in his rehab, Ohtani has begun taking dry swings, per Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic. Obviously, Ohtani has to balance his comeback as a hitter this season with his long-term success and rehab as the team’s ace in 2020.
Zack Cozart Positional Focus
Coming off season-ending shoulder surgery, Zack Cozart has a lot to prove in 2019. After a breakout 2017, he struggled prior to his injury last season. Cozart played shortstop before signing as a third baseman with the Angels. However, he did spend time at second base as well.
Cozart told Jeff Fletcher of The Orange County Register that he was “actually shocked, in a good way” by how confident he felt in his swing after being told by doctors it wouldn’t feel normal to swing for a large chunk of time.
With Andrelton Simmons at shortstop, it wasn’t clear whether Cozart would be the team’s everyday third baseman or second baseman, with young guys Taylor Ward and David Fletcher at each position, respectively. Ardaya shed some light on that situation as well, while also giving a glimpse at Albert Pujols‘ recovery.
Ward, Fletcher, and Cozart seemed to be in a three-man race for the two positions. Cozart was all but guaranteed one of them, but with him taking more reps at third, one can assume the Angels are more confident in Fletcher’s ability as an everyday player than Taylor Ward’s.
Other Minor Updates
- As noted above, the plan with Pujols will be to take it slowly as he rehabs from arthroscopic left knee surgery, as well as coming back from a procedure done in September to remove bone spurs from his right elbow.
- Keynan Middleton (with a bold new look) and JC Ramirez, both recovering from Tommy John Surgery, were seen doing sprints throughout the Tempe Diablo Stadium seats.
- Jaime Barria (also sporting a new/questionable haircut) reportedly showed up looking noticeably leaner than he did last season, when he was listed at 210 pounds.
- Luis Rengifo, who shot up prospect rankings last season and is a dark horse in the race for time at 2B/3B, arrived appearing stronger than he was last season in the minors.