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OC Register: Angels’ Taylor Ward is prepared for pitchers to work him up and in after last year’s incident

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Earlier this spring, Taylor Ward was at the plate when a fastball came at him, up and in. He moved out of the way without incident. The next pitch was also up and in.

He admitted that he “couldn’t get back in the right mindset after that,” and he eventually struck out on a slider over the middle.

“That at-bat made me wonder,” Ward said. “What are we doing here? I learned from that moment. That’s what I have to get used to.”

Ward missed the last two months of last season recovering from facial fractures suffered when he was hit in the face by a pitch. He hadn’t seen any live pitching in the six months between that incident and the start of spring training.

Ward said at the beginning of camp that he expected to be fine, but he needed games to truly understand if there would be any residual impact of the injury.

A month later, Ward said that particular at-bat convinced him that he needs to be prepared for teams to try to take advantage of his situation by pitching him that way.

“Just accepting that it’s going to happen and not letting it affect me is the biggest thing I took away from that,” Ward said.

He has been wearing an extra protective piece on his helmet all spring.

“If I would have had that last year, it would have changed everything,” Ward said. “Having that gives me confidence that if it does happen again, it’s going to be OK.”

Although Ward said he’s expecting pitches up and in, and he seems to be at peace with it, manager Ron Washington isn’t going to be so tolerant.

“I don’t think we have enough pitchers in the game that can control up and in,” Washington said. “They don’t have any business going up and in there. … They better not be doing that, because that will send a signal that we’re going to do it to them. Let them see how it feels. If a pitch gets away and gets up and in, fine. If you try to throw the ball in, not up and in, that’s different. You come in the chest area, that’s good. But when you go up at the head, that’s up. He’s done nothing to no one to go up and in.”

The prospect of facing pitchers looking to make him uncomfortable is just another element added to Ward’s challenge of once again becoming the hitter he has shown he can be.

He started and finished 2022 on a tear, and he had gotten hot just a couple weeks before he was injured in 2023.

Ward said this spring he has his swing “doing what I want it to do,” and he’s especially encouraged by the way he’s using the whole field. On Saturday, he hit a fly ball to the warning track in right, and then hit a homer to left.

“Whenever I’m going to the opposite field and driving the ball that way, that’s a really good sign for me,” he said. “That’s something I didn’t do much last year until the last few weeks before I got hurt.”


Right-hander Sam Bachman, who had shoulder surgery last fall and will start the season on the injured list, said he’s “feeling good.”

Bachman said he’s thrown five bullpen sessions, getting up to about 30 pitches. He added his changeup in the last session, and expects to add his slider next time. Bachman said he’s expecting to throw live batting practice “soon.”

There is no timetable for him to pitch in the games. The Angels want him as a starter, so they are preserving his innings by pushing his season debut back.

“Just want to make sure these prerequisite steps are met because I want to be healthy all season,” Bachman said. “Don’t want to push anything.”


Right-hander Robert Stephenson played catch at a distance of 90 feet on Monday. Stephenson has been bothered by shoulder soreness throughout the spring, preventing him from pitching in a game. He is expected to begin the season on the injured list. …

First baseman Nolan Schanuel was scratched from the lineup for Monday’s game because of back tightness. …

The Angels have not decided if José Soriano will continue to start or move back to the bullpen. He is scheduled to start in a minor league game on Thursday, which is an off day on the major league schedule. Washington said the Angels simply want to keep Soriano stretched out to retain all their options.

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