Angels’ Open Spring With Spotty Performances

The Angels began their spring schedule with a 4-1 loss Wednesday against the Giants, but yesterday put together a great overall team outing against Oakland, collecting 17 hits on the way to an 8-2 win. They hit, they pitched, and they played defense. Local TV news highlights gushed over Mike Trout’s start (he did not play Wednesday), going three-for-three, and the highlight film of the day was his outstanding first-inning catch. But others also did well, including right fielder Kole Calhoun who also began the spring with hits in his first three at bats (he also did not play Wednesday), and while starter Garrett Richards

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gave up a couple of runs in his two innings, the bull pen contributed seven scoreless innings, striking out nine. This was a big improvement over the first game where Matt Shoemaker gave up the tying run in his first inning of relief, and where the always suspect Cam Bedrosian, somehow apparently a favorite of manager Mike Scioscia’s, for unknown and inexplicable reasons, was, as usual, clobbered, giving up three runs on four hits, and the game, in the sixth inning.

But, those news reports of Thursday’s game ignored the guy I wrote about a week ago, rookie Rule 5 draftee Ji-Man Choi, who has a chance to become a key member of the 2016 Angels. Choi pinch hit yesterday and stayed in the game, collecting hits in his two at bats, and he drove in three runs, including one on a bases-loaded walk. He was the designated hitter in the opener, though he did also play some at first base, and it’s been a fine beginning in an Angels’ uniform for this guy who is now three-for-six. He could be the surprise of the spring for a team that has a giant hole in left field, and who needs solid backup at first base, with Albert Pujols likely to spend much of 2016 as the DH.

New Angels’ shortstop Andrelton Simmons, acquired from the Braves over the offseason, has been suffering from arm pain and the timing of his spring debut is up in the air, though he may served in the DH role before he’s able to play in the field. The team says its nothing to worry about and that he’ll be ok, but didn’t the Dodgers’ say that exact same thing about Brett Anderson?

C.J. Wilson apparently has not progressed to well with the tendinitis in his shoulder, and it looks unlikely that he’ll be ready by opening day. Jered Weaver makes his spring debut and with the Wilson and Tyler Skaggs big question marks as to their health, the team needs a big bounce back season from Weaver, who is coming off the worst year of his career. He’ll be facing the Cubs today, and someone named Pierce Johnson, a 24-year-old rightly trying to see the majors for the first time. He’ll have a tough battle to break into a full Cubs’ rotation.

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