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OC Register: Trout-less Angels flex their lineup depth against Dodgers


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LOS ANGELES — Consider the 5 freeway the high-voltage power line that connects what figures to be two of the biggest run-producing factories in baseball this season.

While the Dodgers boast what has been debated as potentially one of the best lineups ever, the Angels have been putting together a mix of run producers that are the envy of general managers everywhere.

Mike Trout was not available for Tuesday’s Freeway Series exhibition game because he was under the weather, but he is the undeniable centerpiece of the Angels’ power prowess. Fellow MVP Shohei Ohtani has developed into a menacing figure in his own right and Anthony Rendon gives Manager Joe Maddon a trio of proven stars.

As the Angels now turn to high upside players like Jo Adell, Brandon Marsh, Jared Walsh, Taylor Ward and the sparkplug David Fletcher, their lineup is extended like it has not been in some time. It allowed them to designate Justin Upton for assignment last week, even though they owe him another $28 million.

“The skill level of all these guys, when you go Adell and Marsh, it’s pretty nice,” Maddon said.

The Angels manager said there is a palpable “vibe” with the Angels, perceptible largely because they don’t have to sink or swim with their proven lineup veterans.

“Obviously they have two superstars in Ohtani and Trout, but the whole lineup is pretty good,” Dodgers left-hander Julio Urias said through an interpreter.

Urias ran into a buzz saw Monday, giving up five runs on six hits with three walks over two long innings in the Dodgers’ 10-4 loss to the Angels.

“They have young guys, veterans up at the top, it’s a good lineup and it’s obviously good for the game,” Urias said.

Adell, Ward, Michael Stefanic and Jose Rojas had two hits apiece for the Angels. Adell, Ward, Walsh and Stefanic all had doubles and Marsh and Rojas had home runs.

Hanser Alberto had three hits, including a double, to pace the Dodgers.

While the Dodgers had a rocky spring, winning consecutive games just once, there is little doubt about their potential to keep the scoreboard in constant motion. After participating in five of the last six National League Championship Series, another World Series berth is a minimum goal.

Regular seasons and playoffs are where the Dodgers will be judged.

“I’m excited,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I didn’t know if we were going to get to the point (with the lockout). To be here right now, back at Dodger Stadium it seems normal. I know our guys have a little extra burst of excitement and energy. … We’re ready to get going.”

Freeman had a rare triple in his first Dodger Stadium at-bat in a Dodgers uniform. He scored a pair of runs to double his total for the spring, all after missing Sunday’s game with what was described as a 24-hour bug.

“It was my first time facing Freeman,” said Angels starter Jose Suarez, who gave up four runs on five hits over 3-2/3 innings. “He’s a tremendous hitter, but I got good work against him and I felt really good.”

Freeman says he already feels at home with the Dodgers, leaving the team to focus on Max Muncy’s return from an elbow injury late last season and finding a way to help Cody Bellinger out of a season-long slump in 2021.

Trea Turner takes over at shortstop for the departed Corey Seager, but nobody is buying the concept that Seager’s departure is going to hurt the team’s ability to score runs.

Pitching is also where the Dodgers expect to flourish. The staff appeared to run out of gas in last year’s playoffs without Kershaw and with Max Scherzer ailing. Urias did his best to step up after he emerged with a 20-win season, but to no avail.

If his 20-win season from a year ago raises expectations for Urias, then so be it.

“Obviously winning 20 games is very difficult, but those are goals we are going to set for ourselves,” Urias said.

The goals run much deeper, of course, no matter which exit off the 5 each team resides.

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