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OC Register: Ron Washington has the Angels tearing up the basepaths

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TEMPE, Ariz. — One of the axioms of baseball is to never make the third out at third base.

The logic, of course, is that the reward of an extra 90 feet isn’t worth the risk of ending the inning.

However, Jo Adell has stolen third with two outs twice this spring. Both times led to runs because of defensive mistakes.

Those two plays are the perfect encapsulation of the attitude that new manager Ron Washington has brought to the Angels. Being aggressive on the bases is not merely lip service. The Angels are pushing the envelope to the point of tearing it this spring.

Which is the point.

“We’re trying to create an atmosphere where you can push the limits and see where you can go in spring training,” said third base-coach Eric Young, who came from Atlanta with Washington. “That’s what we’re finding out. Guys are finding out for themselves what they can and can’t do.”

Outfielder Mickey Moniak used a common investment philosophy to summarize the Angels’ strategy.

“Scared money don’t make money,” Moniak said. “If you don’t try it, you’re not gonna know if you can do it. If you don’t have the confidence you’re going to be able to do it, it’s going to hinder you a little bit. We know that’s going to be a huge part of our game going forward this season.”

The Angels have stolen 33 bases this spring, which is the most in the majors. They’ve also been caught stealing 12 times, which is tied for the second most.

Beyond that, they’ve been pushing players to take extra bases whenever possible. Earlier this week, even catcher Caleb Hamilton went from first to third on a single to right.

Washington admitted he was saying “no, no, no” until Hamilton was safe.

“You don’t usually see big catchers doing that,” Washington said. “They’ve taken to it. Everybody else has no choice.”

Catchers Logan O’Hoppe and Matt Thaiss have each stolen a base, as has slow-footed first baseman Nolan Schanuel, third baseman Anthony Rendon and DH Miguel Sanó.

More speedy players, like Moniak, Adell and Jake Marisnick, are thrilled with Washington’s philosophy.

“I love it,” said Marisnick, a non-roster invitee. “That’s how I play. I’ve seen it first hand, as an outfielder, if you know a team is aggressive that speeds things up in the outfield. That’s when you get bad throws. That’s when bad stuff happens for the team you’re being aggressive against. I love it. You’re seeing a lot of it in spring training.”

Adell, who is second to Mike Trout in sprint speed among players who are likely to be on the Angels’ Opening Day roster, said Washington, Young and first-base coach Bo Porter have all been pushing the style of baserunning.

“If you put pressure on a team, you make them play faster,” Adell said. “Our goal is to continue to put that level of pressure on them and make them make plays. That’s what we’re going to do.”

Adell, however, said that there is a line.

“It’s not just free running,” Adell said. “We want to run in the right situations … We’re going to be aggressive and smart.”

Adell flirted with that line on his two steals of third. Once, Chicago Cubs right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. was paying so little attention to Adell that he got a huge running start to third. Edwards didn’t even deliver the ball to the plate. By the time Edwards noticed Adell going, his throw to third was too late. The next hitter reached on an error, allowing Adell to score.

Earlier this week, Adell took off for third and Texas Rangers catcher Andrew Knizer made a bad throw. Adell scampered home as the ball bounced into the outfield.

“We certainly are very pleased with it producing runs, but we want them to understand that you’ve just got to make certain when you do that, with two outs, you have to make it,” Washington said. “You’ve got no excuse if you don’t make it.”

Young said learning how to play aggressively is part of spring training.

“We want to be aggressive, but when the season starts you’ve gotta be smart aggressive,” Young said. “Sometimes you just can’t go. I think Wash will bring back the reins a little bit. But as far as (Adell) having the attitude, which is what we want to create, and pushing the envelope, he’s definitely following the model that we’ve established from spring training. In the season, we’ll talk about situations when you should and shouldn’t go.”


Right-hander Chase Silseth had been scheduled to start in Saturday’s Cactus League game, but when Friday’s game was rained out, the Angels decided to move right-hander José Soriano into Saturday’s start and have Silseth pitch in a minor-league game. Washington said the Angels wanted to see Soriano against big-league hitters. …

Starting Sunday, the Angels are going to put more emphasis on certain game situations to prepare for the regular season, Washington said. “I’m going to start putting on more signs, start trying to execute things,” Washington said. “You might all of the sudden see more hit and runs. You might start seeing more squeezes.” …

Brandon Drury and Zach Neto were in Saturday’s lineup after being out with illnesses. Neto had been scheduled to play Friday before the game was canceled.

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