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OC Register: Jo Adell’s promotion to Angels means a reduction in playing time for Justin Upton


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The start of Jo Adell’s big league career, one that the Angels hope will see him become a franchise player, can be pointed to Justin Upton.

Adell, one of the top prospects in all of baseball, was promoted to the big leagues and inserted into the lineup on Tuesday night. It was a move that was inevitable, at some point, but the reason it’s happening right now is that Upton has started the season in a 5-for-37 slump.

Manager Joe Maddon said Adell will now be the Angels everyday right fielder, while Upton and Brian Goodwin will platoon in left. Upton, as the right-handed hitting half of that platoon, is obviously going to get the short end of the playing time. Goodwin started the season 10 for 30 with two homers.

Maddon said that Adell had been playing well in games at the alternate site in Long Beach, and he had cleaned up some of his defensive issues, but Upton’s slump was the final spark to light the fuse on Adell’s career.

“If J-Up had been hotter, it probably would not have happened (now),” Maddon said. “I can’t deny that. That’s 100 percent true. It was a combination of factors. His readiness and the opportunity. J-Up could easily get back into a regular rotation, but for right now we’re working with a platoon with him and Goody. That’s the straight up truth.”

The demotion for Upton comes just a couple weeks after Maddon complemented how well he was looking during summer camp. Upton homered in the second game of the season, but has not gotten hot. He is hitless in his last 11 at-bats, with four strikeouts.

Upton, 32, is making a pro-rated portion of $21 million this year, with $51 million due over the next two seasons. Maddon said he understood the decision to reduce his playing time, though.

“Justin was wonderful in the conversation,” Maddon said. “I’m sure he is not 100 percent happy about it, but he will play. He’s going to play often. It’s just for now, when you have this opportunity with the young man, generally what you do is (make) a spot for him, and give him an opportunity.”

For Adell, 21, that meant the chance to live out his dream.

He had hit .298 with an .878 OPS in parts of three minor league seasons. His defense was the last piece of the puzzle. After a few miscues in right field during summer camp, Adell conceded it was an area that needed work. He said he spent about 30 minutes a day focusing on outfield play while working out in Long Beach.

Adell said he’s been satisfied with his work at the plate too, which general manager Billy Eppler said had shown significant improvement even between spring training and summer camp.

Now he’ll get his chance to show the world what all the talk has been about as he’s climbed the prospect charts.

“So much excitement,” Adell said. “You work so hard, and you always have that as the goal out in front of you, and then one day you get the call like this and it finally validates the work you’ve done… It’s definitely humbling and very exciting.”

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