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OC Register: Angels’ Taylor Ward discouraged by slow progress of his shoulder

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ANAHEIM — Taylor Ward’s progress toward a return to the outfield stalled on Thursday, leaving him admittedly discouraged.

“It’s more depressing than anything,” Ward said. “I don’t know where I’m at. Hopefully, nothing digressed. It could be the same tomorrow or it could be 20 percent (better) hopefully. We just have to take it day by day.”

Ward suffered a stinger in his shoulder when he crashed into the outfield fence making a catch on Friday. After a day, Ward was cleared to hit, but not to throw. With the DH spot taken by Shohei Ohtani, Ward has been relegated to the bench. The Angels have opted not to put him on the injured list because he’s available to hit.

“There’s still a threat of him getting the big hit,” Manager Joe Maddon said.

The Angels have been evaluating the strength of Ward’s shoulder by testing him with a machine that measures the force he can exert backward with his arm at a 90-degree angle. They compare him to the baseline levels from tests taken in spring training.

Ward was at 50% on Tuesday and he improved to 60% on Wednesday, but on Thursday he was still at 60%.

Ward said he can start throwing once he’s at 80%, even though he likely wouldn’t be able to throw with anything near his normal velocity.

Maddon said he’ll take anything Ward can give.

“I want us to get to the point where we can send the second baseman out there almost to shake hands with him,” Maddon said. “Just hand him the ball. I would take that.”

In 2015, the St. Louis Cardinals put Randall Grichuk in center field even though he couldn’t throw. He either lobbed the ball in to an infielder or flipped it to another outfielder. The Chicago Cubs took advantage of Grichuk’s issues and the Cardinals tried it just once.

Ward said he’s open to whatever the Angels want to try.

“The more I thought about it, the more I’ve talked to like the guys in Joe’s ear, I think there’s a possibility,” he said. “And I’m up for it if they think I’ll be ok out there.”

Another option would be to have Ward play first base. He’s worked out there before, not since spring training, but he said he could handle ground balls “fine” right now. He just might not be able to turn a double play.

As for hitting, Ward has been cleared to take batting practice for the past two days. He said he’s been standing in during pitchers’ bullpen sessions and tracking pitches at 100 mph from the pitching machine, in order to keep his timing while he’s out.


Ward’s absence from the outfield created a roster problem for the Angels, which they alleviated by calling up Juan Lagares on Thursday. A veteran of nine major league seasons and a former Gold Glove winner, Lagares spent last season with the Angels, but then he didn’t have a job until the Angels signed him to a minor league deal earlier this month.

Lagares played seven games at Triple-A, which was apparently enough for the Angels to believe he was ready. He started in right field on Thursday.

“I feel great,” Lagares said. “I was working a lot at home before I signed.”

The Angels created a spot for Lagares by designating right-hander Mike Mayers for assignment. Mayers had a 5.40 ERA in 15 games this season, failing to recapture the form that led to a 3.34 ERA with the Angels in 2020-21.

“This stuff is borderline where he had been,” Maddon said. “It’s just a matter of more precise execution. Maybe more opportunity was a part of it too. He’s still good. There’s a chance he may come back to us somehow. I doubt it. I like the guy a lot. He’s been here for several years now, did some really good work.”


Vladimir Guerrero Jr. addressed reporters on a variety of topics, including his fondness for the Angels organization from his father’s days in Anaheim.

“I pretty much grew up here, and coming back as a big leaguer feels great,” Guerrero said through an interpreter.

Guerrero said he never thought he was going to sign with the Angels, though.

“Never went through my mind,” he said. “I did a lot of tryouts for the Angels and other teams, but at the time Toronto was the team I decided to sign with.”

Guerrero, last year’s runner-up to Ohtani for the MVP, also talked about how much he enjoyed playing against Ohtani. He said they posed together for a picture last year at the All-Star Game, and that photo is now “big on one of the walls of my house.”


Left-hander José Quijada (oblique) was scheduled to throw two innings for Class-A Inland Empire on Thursday night, which would be the third outing of his rehab assignment. …

Anaheim High’s Jillian Albayati met with a handful of Angels and threw out the first pitch on Thursday. Albayati last week became the first girl to pitch in a CIF-Southern Section baseball championship game.


Angels (RHP Chase Silseth, 1-1, 2.61) vs. Blue Jays (RHP Alek Manoah, 5-1, 1.62), Thursday, 6:38 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM

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