Three Man Race for 2B/3B
This one may not seem like much of a race, but the Angels have three exceptional options to fill to of their infield positions. Zack Cozart, David Fletcher, and Taylor Ward are all competing to start on Opening Day, and there hasn’t been a clear winner yet.
At the start, it seemed as if Ward was the clear option to come off the bench. He hit just .178 last year while playing average defense at third. However, that has changed as Ward has arguably been the best Halo (.350 average, one home run, two doubles) not named Matt Thaiss so far in Spring Training. He has forced his name to be considered in the starting lineup, and if things continue to look so easy for the second-year player, he might just be the new Angels’ third baseman.
Zack Cozart has had an up-and-down preseason. Coming back from season-ending shoulder surgery, he reported early and said he felt better than expected. While the results are minimal, he has looked solid at the plate to the tune of three hits in seven at-bats.
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However, Cozart suffered a calf injury and will miss “a few weeks”. While he only has a Grade 1 strain, the Angels are likely (and widely) going to play it safe with the veteran. However, this gives Ward and Fletcher all the more opportunities. If Cozart is healthy come Opening Day, the likelihood of him getting the nod to start is high due to his veteran status.
However, if Brad Ausmus truly values production over everything, it’d be hard not to start Ward and Fletcher come Opening Day, especially if they each go on to have solid preseasons.