LA Angels Jonathan Lucroy mentors minor leaguers well rehabbing in Inland Empire

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 10: Jonathan Lucroy #20 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim goes to the mound to congratulate Hansel Robles #57 on his save over Milwaukee Brewers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on April 10, 2019 in Anaheim, California. Angels won 4-2. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 10: Jonathan Lucroy #20 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim goes to the mound to congratulate Hansel Robles #57 on his save over Milwaukee Brewers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on April 10, 2019 in Anaheim, California. Angels won 4-2. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /

What a difference three weeks makes for LA Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy. On July 7th Jonathan Lucroy got ran over by the Astros Jake Marisnick.  Marisnick shoulder and forearm went into Lucroy’s face & nose in an ugly collision causing Lucroy’s nose to break & a concussion.

Lucroy had surgery to repair his broken nose and he has worked his way back to the LA Angels line-up as he will most likely be activated Wednesday for the final home game of a seven-game home stand for the Angels.  There is a possibility that the Angels hold off activating Lucroy until Friday since Thursday is an off-day.

However, in an interesting twist Lucroy has drawn interest from some pennant contenders and could be dealt before Wednesday’s 1 pm PDT trade deadline and not ever play a game with the Angels. It will be an interesting next 24 hours for Lucroy, but the veteran leader is taking everything in stride.

“I have been traded twice in my 9 years in the big leagues. It is what it is, but it’s out of your control so you can’t worry about it,” said Lucroy of the trade rumors. “I love being here in Anaheim.  This is a great group of guys to play with.  Everyone’s awesome, I could go down the list. There is nobody on this team that I don’t like. We all want to win. We all want to fight to be playing meaningful games in October.”

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As for Lucroy’s second rehab game in Inland Empire for the 66ers you could definitely call it a success.  In his first at-bat Lucroy work the count to 2 and 2 and then smacked outside fastball to right-center field for a double.  He would later come around to score as part of a four-run first inning.  The very next inning Lucroy got up again and this time worked the count to 3-2 and then unloaded on Jeff Bain‘s next offering driving it over the left field wall for a solo homer.

Lucroy’s next two at-bats he worked the count again to 3 and 2 before popping up to first, and then Lucroy reached on a fielder’s choice in his next at-bat as he grounded out to third, but Visalia’s Alex King threw the ball wildly to second allowing Lucroy and Leonardo Rivas to move up a base to second and third.  A sacrifice fly by Orlando Martinez allowed Rivas to score and Lucroy tagged up on the play hustling to third base, where he was left stranded.

In Lucroy’s final at-bat he again worked the count and drew a walk from Visalia pitcher Tyler Mark.  Mark loaded the bases and 66ers Gareth Morgan does what Gareth Morgan does, hit dingers.  organ unloaded on Mark’s 3-1 offering and drove it over the left-field wall for a grand slam and a 13-1 66ers lead.

“After being in between looking for a fastball and breaking ball in me to previous at-bats, I decided to sell out and just look for the heater,” Morgan said. “I got one and put a good barrel on it. I knew right away it was gone. It’s a great feeling.”

Lucroy enjoyed his time in the Inland Empire as he got a chance to influence and help the young players on the 66ers while getting back to playing the game he loves.

"“It felt really good. It’s always good to see good velocity. I had a couple of good at-bats tonight and hit the ball hard a couple of times. I felt pretty good about it and I am looking forward to getting back to the the team (Angels) tomorrow,” Lucroy said. “I try to be as open as I can when the young guys ask me questions. I’ve always felt that I want to leave the game better than I found it.  I want to help out wherever I can, because I had guys who helped me whenever I was coming up. I want to help these guy to get better in any way they possibly can. I want them to have successful careers. The baseball life is awesome, it’s something that I don’t take for granted. I want these guys to experience it as much as I have and even more.”"

Now that Lucroy has been reinstated to the Angels roster and his personal roller-coaster ride has taken him back to the top level, I asked Lucroy how he felt about the play that took him out of action.

“I was inching up the line to go and get the ball, but I don’t remember too much after that, because I got knocked out,” Lucroy said. “It’s just an unfortunate play.It happened, hopefully we can learn from it and move on. I’m pretty fortunate when I got ran over and knocked out that nothing short of a mild concussion and breaking my nose, but nothing worse happened, so I feel pretty good and am looking forward to getting back with my guys.”

When a major league player does down to a rehab assignment the minor league players really benefit from their tutelage and reliever Luke Lind, who just arrive in Inland Empire in time to have Lucroy catch for him and he said the opportunity was invaluable for him.

“I have been talking to him (Lucroy) and picking his brain, it’s been awesome. He is an awesome guy,” said Lind of Lucroy. “He was always positive through the whole thing. Telling me ‘Hey keep working, keep working’ the whole time. He didn’t lose faith in me even when I got behind which want a lot to me. It was awesome to have him back there.”

Lucroy wanted to leave this message with the Inland Empire pitchers on the key for them getting to the big leagues to join him.

"“For me it’s all about throwing strikes. Their stuff is great stuff. The difference Between the minor leagues and the big leagues is only one thing: Consistency,” Lucroy said. “The guys that throw more strikes consistently are the guys that are going to be in the big leagues. Tonight the guys were consistent and that’s what I tried to tell them to keep attacking and getting ahead. Whenever you can do that, odds are you are going to be successful.”"

As for what him and his Angels teammates have been through in the past month and the fact that the team is still hanging in the race, Lucroy says it is a testament to all the guys sticking together.

“Every team is going to go through adversity throughout the year its tough. Obviously whenever Skaggsy died it was a pretty big blow to not only us, but the region and the people in Santa Monica and his family. It’s unfthomable and hard to comprehend,” Lucroy said. “We got to figure out a way to bounce back to use it as strength to get better. The guys have come together and we are fighting to get through it.

Lucroy added. “We are going to give it all we’ve got these last two months.We’ve got guys grinding, we are grinding through it. We’ve had some things not go our way, but we got to get better. We’ve got to do everything better. We are a very talented team, got one of the best line-ups in baseball. I believe in what these guys can do and I will do whatever I can to help them out when I get back there tomorrow (Wednesday).

Lucroy has been officially reinstated as of Wednesday morning and Dustin Garneau has been designated for assignment, so you will see Lucroy in the line-up Wednesday afternoon.

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Good luck Jonathan, it was a pleasure to speak with you and hoping for great things for you the rest of the year.