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OC Register: Angels’ Tommy La Stella selected as All-Star reserve


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ANAHEIM – Tommy La Stella first called his girlfriend, then his brother, then his parents Sunday morning with the big news: he’s headed back to Cleveland.

La Stella was the only Angels player among the reserves and pitchers chosen to represent the American League in the All-Star Game July 9 at Progressive Field. The 30-year-old infielder has 16 home runs and 44 RBIs, needing half a season to eclipse his previous career highs in each category. Through Saturday, his .297 batting average trailed Mike Trout by one point for the team lead.

Trout, who was elected to start the game via fan balloting, is the Angels’ only other All-Star. Trout is an eight-time All-Star, while La Stella struggled to remember the last time he made an All-Star team at any level.

“It’s a lot of kind of reflecting back on getting here and all the people helping me along the way,” La Stella said. “My parents, my friends, everybody back home. They were pushing for me to make the All-Star Game. I’m happier for them honestly. It means more to them because they were so excited for me and wanted it for me. To everybody back home, thank you.”

The possibility of La Stella making an All-Star team snuck up on everyone, including La Stella himself. Manager Brad Ausmus said he envisioned La Stella as a platoon player after the Angels acquired La Stella from the Cubs last November for a minor league pitcher.

An early injury to Zack Cozart thrust La Stella into an everyday role. By May 1, La Stella had seven home runs, topping his previous career high in only a month. By the time All-Star ballots went online, La Stella was listed as the Angels’ representative at second base.

“I wasn’t really thinking about it, and didn’t think I’d have a shot until (the voting) started,” La Stella said.

La Stella was a utility player on the Cubs team that beat the Indians in a seven-game World Series in 2016. Will returning to Cleveland as an All-Star be his best memory from the city?

The typically stone-faced veteran let out a genuine chuckle.

“It’s up there,” La Stella said.

ROTATION PLANS

Jose Suarez will start Monday’s game against the Rangers after joining the team in Anaheim Sunday. The corresponding roster move will be made official prior to the game.

Suarez, 21, is 2-1 with a 5.57 earned-run average in his four big league starts. He allowed two unearned runs in 5 ⅓ innings Wednesday for Triple-A Salt Lake. Suarez’s previous start came in Toronto, where he allowed five runs in five innings in a no-decision against the Blue Jays. Though Suarez could be headed back to the minors after Monday’s start, that isn’t set in stone.

“We ended up having to option Suarez last time out of necessity, not because it was some pre-planned program,” Ausmus said. “We can, and we have the ability to do that. But that wasn’t written in the schedule. We just needed the arms at that point.”

The Angels will use an opener Wednesday for Felix Peña, and Ausmus said they haven’t discussed doing so for any other pitchers in the Texas series.

ALSO

Ausmus said there was “nothing negative to report” after JC Ramirez threw 82 pitches in a minor league rehab game with Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday. Ramirez’s role on the Angels’ pitching staff upon his return hasn’t been determined, Ausmus said.

UP NEXT

Angels (LHP Jose Suarez) vs. Rangers (LHP Mike Minor), 5 p.m., Fox Sports West, 830-AM

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