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OC Register: Angels’ Luis Rengifo credits Jose Altuve for new approach at plate


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OAKLAND — Luis Rengifo may have taken more from the World Baseball Classic than simply the experience of playing in a charged atmosphere.

Rengifo said he spent a lot of time with José Altuve while they were teammates with Venezuela. Previously, the Angels infielder only had a few short conversations with Altuve on the field when the Angels played the Houston Astros.

“Altuve is a leader,” Rengifo said. “He knows what he’s doing before every at-bat. He puts the ball in play every single time. That’s what I want.”

After struggling for much of his sporadic opportunities in the majors, Rengifo enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2022. The switch-hitter hit .264 with 17 homers and a .724 OPS in 511 plate appearances, including a .909 OPS against lefties.

Through his first two games this season, Rengifo has already drawn three walks. One of them opened the floodgates for an 11-run inning after the Angels had struck out four times in two scoreless innings against Oakland right-hander Shintaro Fujinami.

“Luis’ at-bat to lead off that inning was phenomenal, spitting on a couple of those splits that  guys had swung over the top of in the first two innings,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “The last-pitch slider that he took down and in was a great take, and we were off and running.”

Nevin said that Rengifo has a slightly more upright stance from the left side now, and that could help his pitch recognition.

Rengifo, however, said that one of the changes is the approach that he learned from Altuve.

“I feel more confident every single time when I go in the box,” he said. “I am ready every single time. The game has slowed down.”

RENDON SITS

Third baseman Anthony Rendon was out of the Angels’ lineup a day after banging his left knee against the rolled up tarp while chasing a ball in foul territory.

“The tarp won,” quipped Rendon, who added that he still could have played on Sunday and he expects to play on Monday.

Nevin said the Angels had planned all along for Rendon to have one of the days off on this season-opening six-game trip, and now he’s planning on Rendon playing all three games in Seattle.

“He went into the tarp pretty hard yesterday, and with everything that’s going on, I thought today was the best one (for a day off),” Nevin said.

Rendon is also awaiting discipline from Major League Baseball, which is investigating his altercation with a fan after Thursday’s game. Nevin said he has “not heard anything” about a decision on Rendon.

NOTES

Right-hander Griffin Canning (groin) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Monday. …

First baseman Jared Walsh (headaches, insomnia) has been making progress on the issues at a facility in Utah, Nevin said. Walsh began taking  swings with the Angels’ Triple-A team in Salt Lake City. Nevin said there is still “no timetable” for Walsh to return. …

Catcher Max Stassi (hip) is on the injured list, but the family emergency that initially took him away from the team is the primary issue, Nevin said. “Keep him in your thoughts,” Nevin said. “That’s all I can say.” …

Although the Angels were using a straw Golden State Warriors hat to celebrate homers this weekend in Oakland, that won’t be a season-long fixture. Staff assistant Tim Buss, who is unofficially in charge of such things, said the Angels are still searching for something to use throughout the season. …

Catcher Matt Thaiss is scheduled to get his first start of the season behind the plate on Tuesday, Nevin said.

UP NEXT

Angels (LHP Reid Detmers, 7-6, 3.77 ERA in 2022) at Mariners (RHP George Kirby, 8-5, 3.39 in 2022), Monday, 6:40 p.m., T-Mobile Park, Bally Sports West, 830 AM.

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