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OC Register: Angels’ Mike Trout opened the floodgates by committing to Team USA

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SAN DIEGO — It seems that Mike Trout’s decision to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic had a significant impact on the rest of the roster.

“The fact that he said ‘I’m in’ very early on, my conversations started to be easier and easier (with other players),” Team USA general manager Tony Reagins said during a WBC press availability at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday. “He was definitely a catalyst to all this.”

The Angels’ three-time MVP said at the All-Star Game that he was going to participate in the WBC for the first time in his career. Now, with the event three months away, the USA has a star-studded roster, including first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, second baseman Trevor Story, shortstop Tim Anderson, third baseman Nolan Arenado, catcher J.P. Realmuto and outfielder Mookie Betts. Bryce Harper also committed to the team, but now he can’t play because he had surgery.

Mark DeRosa, who is managing the USA team, said he was encouraged by his early conversations with Trout.

“In my talks with Mike he made it pretty clear that the clock is ticking on his career,” DeRosa said. “He felt like he missed out (on the WBC) in 2017 and he didn’t want to have any regrets. He was one of the first commitments. Tony Reagins did an unbelievable job getting him and there was a trickle-down effect with Harper and Mookie Betts.”


Hideki Kuriyama, the manager of Team Japan, said they have not yet decided if Shohei Ohtani will pitch as a starter or reliever in the WBC. Ohtani will also DH.

Japan’s first game is on March 9 in Tokyo, so Ohtani might have to ramp up sooner than normal in order to be able to start by then. However, the tournament continues through March 21, so it’s possible that even if Ohtani isn’t ready to start at the beginning, he could be at the end.

Angels general manager Perry Minasian has said repeatedly that he has no concerns about Ohtani’s workload in the WBC.

“He’s the last guy I’m worried about,” Minasian said. “I know when the bell rings, he’ll be ready to go.”


Angels left-hander Patrick Sandoval is expected to be one of the starters for Team Mexico, according to Mexico manager Benji Gil, who also is the Angels’ first base coach.

“This past year was his coming out party,” Gil said. “I got to witness it every day.”

Sandoval will be part of a rotation that could also include Dodgers lefty Julio Urias and Houston Astros righty José Urquidy. Right-hander Taijuan Walker, who is a free agent, also could pitch for the team.

Gil, who has managed in the Mexican League and in the Olympics, said his goal is to be a major league manager, and he appreciates this opportunity.

“It’s an honor to represent our country in what’s the biggest international event,” Gil said. “And the great thing to see is it’s a global grower. It’s exciting to see that the event gets bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s wonderful for the game and the growth of the game. I’m excited to be a part of it.”


The Angels’ Luis Rengifo appears to be set to play in the WBC, but he doesn’t yet know which team is going to take him.

Rengifo was born in Venezuela, but his mother is Colombian. He is on the preliminary roster for Venezuela, but only as a potential utility player, according to Colombia manager Jolbert Cabrera. Cabrera said Venezuela gets priority because that’s where Rengifo was born, so Colombia has to wait a couple more weeks to see if Venezuela has a spot for Rengifo.

If not, Cabrera said Colombia is ready to welcome him and use him as their starting center fielder. Rengifo has played sparingly in the outfield in the major leagues, but Cabrera said he’s confident that Rengifo can do it.

“He can play center field,” Cabrera said. “He’s very dynamic. He can play both up the middle and in center field, and we’ll have him at the top of the lineup.”

Cabrera said he’ll have another Angels player, Gio Urshela, on his roster as the third baseman.


Reagins, who was the Angels’ general manager from 2007-11, said his WBC role gives him a chance to enjoy the team-building process – without having to deal with salaries – but he doesn’t see himself leading a major league team again.

Reagins’ full-time job is Chief Baseball Development Officer with Major League Baseball. In that job, he works on programs that encourage kids to play baseball, particularly minorities.

“I think I have a chance in this job that I’m doing to change lives every single day,” Reagins said. “To me, that’s way more powerful than running a club, because I get a chance to influence a generation. … I want Black players playing the game in a deeper way. I have a chance to influence that. Or black coaches. I have a chance to influence that. I want young people in general, girls and boys, playing baseball and softball. And now girls’ baseball. This is fun. I take it very seriously because I know what’s at stake. My day job is pretty cool.”


At least three other Angels major leaguers are set to play in the WBC. Catcher Max Stassi and infielder David Fletcher are on the roster for Italy. Right-hander Jaime Barria would be one of the top starters for Panama, according to Panama manager Luis Ortiz. …

Right-hander Zack Weiss will pitch for Israel, Manager Ian Kinsler said. Weiss is on the Angels’ 40-man roster, but he’s not a lock to be in the majors.

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5 hours ago, AngelsWin.com said:

Angels left-hander Patrick Sandoval is expected to be one of the starters for Team Mexico, according to Mexico manager Benji Gil, who also is the Angels’ first base coach.

Is Gil the first base coach or major league field coordinator?

I though Damon Mashore was the Angels first base coach?

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