The Angels (7-3) are off to their best start in over a decade, but it isn’t without a cost. The team’s depth is being tested early with injuries to starters and reserves in the past few days. It’s going to be all hands on deck, including players on the taxi squad and in the minors who may get their shot. One of these players who could play a key role is Taylor Ward.
A former 26th overall pick in 2015, Ward has played in a handful of games in the past three seasons. He was used a lot in the shortened-2020 campaign, but there were still questions as to whether or not he would be an everyday player. Instead, Ward will have to earn his spot on the roster being one of manager Joe Maddon’s ‘super-utility’ guys.
Ward spent time as a catcher, third baseman, and in the outfield during spring training. Ironically, those are all positions where the Halos might need some help at the moment.
That’s difficult to do, and even more impressive was how well Ward performed at the plate while bouncing around the field.
Taylor Ward Career Statistics:
- 2018 (40 games): 147 PA (.178/.245/.333) 6 HR 15 RBI
- 2019 (20 games): 48 PA (.190/.292/.333) 1 HR 2 RBI
- 2020 (34 games): 102 PA (.277/.333/.383) 0 HR 5 RBI
- 2021 (Spring Training-17 games): 31 PA (.400/.484/.880) 3 HR 8 RBI
The offensive improvements have shown, and at some point the Angels should look to add Ward on to their bench if these injuries continue to pile up.
The Halos lost right fielder Dexter Fowler to a season-ending torn ACL the team announced on Saturday. Adding to the injuries was Anthony Rendon who was placed on the 10-day IL on Monday with a strained left groin.
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Fowler’s replacement, Juan Lagares, was also scratched from Monday’s game against the Royals with calf tightness. There’s no word on the severity, but it’s possible Ward is one of the outfielders who gets the call to replace the replacement. Veterans Jon Jay and Scott Schebler are other options currently at the team’s alternate site.
It’s also a possibility Ward gets some time behind the plate. Catcher Max Stassi was pulled in the middle of Monday’s game with left thumb irritation. X-rays were negative and Stassi will undergo an MRI on Tuesday. Veteran Kurt Suzuki will get the bulk of the starts in Stassi’s absence, leaving an opening for the backup spot. Given how important it is to have a reserve catcher on hand, the Angels will not take long to make a roster move if Stassi misses additional time.
Catcher Anthony Bemboom is another player on the taxi squad who could get his shot, but he has a career-batting average (.167) below his weight. Depending on how confident the Angels are in Ward’s defensive abilities behind the plate, I think they should consider bringing him up and using him as a backup catcher given how well he performed offensively during spring training.
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We still need word on the severity of Lagares and Stassi’s injuries, but the Angels could use some depth now more than ever.
The whole point of moving Ward around the field was to prepare him for a potential super-utility role, if needed.
As of now, it looks like it’s going to be needed.