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OC Register: Angels’ David Fletcher said being more under control has led to improvement


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TORONTO — Just more than a year into his big league career, David Fletcher has already tightened up two of the holes in his game as a rookie.

Fletcher, who made his major league debut on June 13, 2018, has not quite played as much in 2019 as he did in 2018, but he’s already increased his homers and walks.

Last year he hit one homer in 307 plate appearances, and this year he’s got five in 259 plate appearances. His walks have risen from 15 to 20, while the strikeouts have decreased from 34 to 17.

Fletcher said both of those are side effects of what he describes as being “more under control” with his swing. Instead of hurriedly flailing at the ball and tapping it softly in play somewhere, he’s able to wait a split second longer and drive it.

He said Matt Martín, the Angels’ coaching assistant and replay coordinator, has “worked with me a little bit on having a little more calmness and that really helped with my swing, getting a little more staying through the ball, with that looseness. I definitely get more energy into the ball.”

Fletcher’s average exit velocity is up slightly, from 83.2 mph to 84.7 mph.

He said the walks are a function of him simply not swinging quite as much. His swing percentage was 40.2 percent last year and 35.8 percent this year.

The results of the increased power and walks are that Fletcher’s on-base percentage has jumped from .316 to .355 and his slugging percentage from .363 to .433, an OPS jump of 110 points, to .788.

“There are always things you want to improve on,” Fletcher said. “I didn’t necessarily try to do those things. I just tried to get better. I am definitely more in control of everything, more comfortable.”

SIMMONS BACK SOON

Andrelton Simmons began a rehab assignment at rookie-level Orem (Utah) on Tuesday night, because it was the highest level farm team the Angels had that offered him the chance to play on consecutive days. Triple-A Salt Lake is off on Wednesday, and the rest of the full-season teams were off on Tuesday and Wednesday, for their All-Star breaks.

Simmons, who is rehabbing from a Grade 3 left ankle sprain, was expected to play five innings on Tuesday and seven on Wednesday, then be re-evaluated.

Simmons could be back with the Angels anytime after that, which will require another roster move.

Manager Brad Ausmus gave a hint at which way they might be leaning when he said that they wouldn’t want Luís Rengifo to be on the bench. That suggests that Rengifo might be headed to play every day at Triple-A, while Wilfredo Tovar would remain in the majors as the backup infielder.

Rengifo had a solid two-week stretch late last month, but he’s struggled at the plate for most of his time this year, bringing a .221 average into Tuesday’s game.

“I think right now he’s going out of the zone to try to hit pitches that really aren’t pitches he wants to swing at,” Ausmus said. “Something he was very good at coming up through the minors last year was not chasing outside of the zone. If he could get back to that, he’d be outstanding.”

ALSO

Justin Upton felt good a day after playing his first game of the season, but he was off on Tuesday. Ausmus said that was part of the plan to break him in slowly, after missing the start of the season with a sprained toe. Ausmus said Upton would start on Wednesday and possibly be the DH on Thursday, then play all three games this weekend in St. Louis. …

Trevor Cahill came through a bullpen session without any issues on Tuesday. It was Cahill’s second bullpen session since going on the injured list with a back issue. It’s unclear what the next step would be for Cahill. He is not scheduled to pitch at least through the end of the week. …

The Angels are keeping their starters in order this weekend against the Cardinals, with Griffin Canning, Félix Peña (following an opener) and Tyler Skaggs facing St. Louis.

UP NEXT

Angels (LHP Andrew Heaney, 0-1, 4.57) at Blue Jays (RHP Aaron Sanchez, 3-8, 5.04), Wednesday, 4:07 p.m., Fox Sports West, 830 AM

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