LA Angels Spring Training: News and Notes 2/13

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 19: Manager Jim Riggleman of the Cincinnati Reds relieves Matt Harvey #32 in the sixth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on September 19, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 19: Manager Jim Riggleman of the Cincinnati Reds relieves Matt Harvey #32 in the sixth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on September 19, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The LA Angels pitchers and catchers took the field for their first official workout on Wednesday, and it was the first time that a lot of players talked to the media in months.

A lot of the new LA Angels spoke to members of the press, which, given the state of free agency in baseball, was rather interesting. While position players won’t report until later this week (full Spring Training schedule here), there was a lot of news regarding Shohei Ohtani, Zack Cozart, and Albert Pujols in yesterday’s Spring Training update.

More. Yesterday's Spring Training Update: Ohtani, Cozart, Pujols and More

New Angels Discuss Free Agency and Second Chances

In December, Matt Harvey was one of the first names to come off the board. On Wednesday, he told reporters he was somewhat shocked at the timing of his signing with the Angels.

Harvey also recognized his struggles at the end of his tenure with the New York Mets, telling reporters, “I’m disappointed in myself”. Harvey is looking for somewhat of a career revival in Anaheim this season. After a solid stint with the Cincinnati Reds in the second half of 2018, Harvey could prove to be a valuable pitcher for the Angels if his velocity continues progressing.

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Jonathan Lucroy, who last season did not sign with a team until Spring Training, gave a lengthy quote about the state of free agency in the MLB. He pointed out much of a shame it is that so many marquee names are still available as teams report, while also mentioning getting an entire preseason with his new pitchers would be very valuable to agreeing to terms with the Angels early on in the offseason.

Shohei Ohtani Has No Regrets

Last season, following the recommendations from doctors that Shohei Ohtani would require Tommy John surgery, Ohtani and the Angels made the decision for the elite hitter to finish the season.

While that ultimately did not lead to a postseason berth, many questioned the choice at the time. Now that it is being reported that Ohtani is expected to return in May, more skeptics are questioning the decision, but Ohtani stands by it, and even thinks it may help.

"“I knew there was a possibility that I might not make it on opening day, but I felt like last year when the doctor told me I needed Tommy John, I was swinging the bat rally well and seeing the ball really well, so I wanted to get that experience to finish out the season,” Ohtani said through his interpreter after the Angels’ first workout of the spring on Wednesday."

Per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Ohtani added an update on his rehab, saying, “So far there is nothing in my elbow,” he said. “I don’t feel anything there. I feel great. I just need to watch my effort level, try to keep it down and listen to the trainers.”

Nick Tropeano Rehab Update

On a sour note, Nick Tropeano, once thought of as a key part to the future of the Angels’ rotation, suffered a setback to his injured throwing shoulder in December, per Jeff Fletcher. This makes him a long shot to be ready for Opening Day, which makes Jaime Barria the odds-on favorite for the fifth starter job behind Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney, Harvey, and Trevor Cahill.

Tropeano did mention the frustrations of having a setback, saying, “People don’t realize the work that goes on behind the scenes. When you have another setback, you just have to keep that positive attitude”.

Tropeano has been hampered by injuries throughout his career, and like many other Halo pitchers, is hoping to get healthy and contribute to a potential playoff run in 2019.

Other Minor Updates:

Starting pitcher JC Ramirez has thrown five bullpen sessions so far in his Tommy John rehab, with a sixth session planned for Friday. He is currently throwing at 60% velocity, and still targeting a return in early June, whether as a starter or reliever

  • Keynan Middleton, who was becoming an elite closing pitcher prior to his Tommy John surgery last season, has yet to throw off a mound in his rehab. Like Ramirez, Middleton is also targeting a return sometime in the summer.
  • Alex Meyer

    , who hasn’t pitched since 2017, revealed that he underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery in November, shortly prior to the Angels removing him from their 40-man roster. Meyer said he is two weeks away from throwing.

    Next. The Angels Need a Kole Calhoun Bounceback to Contend

  • The Angels installed Rapsodo Motion Tracking Systems (arguably the best motion tracking systems in baseball) to their bullpens in Tempe, almost assuredly a move by new pitching coach Doug White. White, formerly with the Houston Astros, is an analytical mind in baseball, so more changes like this may be coming.
  • Brad Ausmus is reportedly taking a very upfront approach as manager, as the former big league catcher has caught multiple bullpen sessions for new signings Harvey and Cahill.