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OC Register: Angels eye José Soriano as their ‘winning piece’ in hybrid role

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BALTIMORE — José Soriano presented the Angels with an intriguing dilemma.

The 25-year-old right-hander who throws 101 mph was effective as a reliever last season, and he was effective this spring when the Angels gave him a chance as a starter. They didn’t want to displace any of their current five starters though.

The solution? Soriano is starting the season pitching out of the bullpen in something of a hybrid role.

“When we bring him in, he’s going to go three or four innings,” manager Ron Washington said before the Angels’ opener on Thursday. “If our starter gets us into the sixth inning and we bring him in, he can take us from the sixth to the ninth. That’s what our plan is gonna be. Whenever we use him it’s going to be length, to keep him stretched out.”

Washington made it clear that Soriano would not be pitching when they are hopelessly out of a game, which is how many long relievers are used.

“He’s going to be our winning piece,” Washington said. “You can be within a run or two runs. If we’re down by four, we’re not doing it then.”

The Angels are starting the season with Patrick Sandoval, Griffin Canning, Reid Detmers, Chase Silseth and Tyler Anderson in the rotation. Obviously at some point the Angels will need a sixth starter when one of the others is hurt or ineffective, and Soriano currently seems to be No. 6.

The question is whether the Angels will be able to keep him stretched out enough to be a rotation option while working out of the big-league bullpen, as opposed to pitching on a starter schedule in the minors.

“We’ll find out (if it works),” general manager Perry Minasian said. “Our intent is to keep him stretched out. How we use him, when we use him, what type of game we use him, that’s to be seen.”

Minasian said there was also a consideration given to the number of innings he has pitched. Soriano pitched just 13 innings in 2022, his first year back from a second Tommy John surgery, followed by 65 1/3 innings last season. Using him as a traditional starter all season could have led to too much of a jump. This plan allows the Angels to move him gradually into a starting role, if that’s what happens.


The Angels officially added Miguel Sanó to the roster, bringing him back to the big leagues after he missed all of 2023. Sanó said he lost 58 pounds in the past year.

Sanó was in the Opening Day lineup at DH on Thursday, batting seventh.

“He had a very good spring,” Minasian said. “I think he improved as the spring went along. Obviously, what he did with his body and the commitment he’s made to be as good as he can possibly be. And you know, I think he’s really really excited for this opportunity and brings an element of power to the lineup and it’s a really good at-bat. Every at bat he’s had, for the most part, it’s a grind type at-bat.

“He’s a great person. He’s fit in really well with our group. So he’s earned the right to be on the team. That was one of the more fun conversations to have. As many tough ones you have, you really cherish the fun ones.”

The Angels created a spot on the 40-man roster for Sanó by moving right-hander Sam Bachman to the 60-day injured list.

Bachman, who had shoulder surgery last fall, has not had a setback, Minasian said. Because the Angels want to use him this year as a starter, they were already going to have to limit his innings, so they decided to start him late. Bachman will be able to pitch in the minors in about a month as part of a rehab assignment and he’ll be eligible to pitch in the majors at the end of May.

Right-hander Hunter Strickland, who had 15 strikeouts and no walks in spring training, was one of the final cuts, with right-hander Guillo Zuñiga taking the final bullpen spot. Strickland did not have a contractual out, so he will report to Triple-A.

Outfielder Jake Marisnick, who did have the right to request his release, decided to stay. He’ll also begin the season at Triple-A.


Right-hander Robert Stephenson (shoulder inflammation) is in Baltimore. He played catch Thursday. Minasian said he has no timetable for Stephenson to be activated, but “it shouldn’t be long.” …

Anderson pitched Tuesday in Arizona while Silseth started in the Freeway Series at Angel Stadium. Anderson is scheduled to start Tuesday in Miami, the fifth game of the season. …

Washington settled on Anthony Rendon as his leadoff man for the opener, after using Aaron Hicks, Luis Rengifo and Mickey Moniak in the leadoff spot at various times in the spring. “I just wanted someone up there to make a pitcher work and someone up there with some experience that can come back to the dugout and let the other players know what he’d just seen,”  Washington said. “We have a lot of youth that’s been up there leading off, I just wanted to try to change the outlook of the way things go and I’m very happy with Rendon up there.” …

First baseman Nolan Schanuel had been Washington’s choice as the No. 2 hitter, but he missed a week at the end of spring training with a stiff back and then Washington came to like Hicks in that spot. “The way I constructed the lineup when he out, I liked it,” Washington said.


Angels (RHP Griffin Canning, 7-8, 4.32 ERA in 2023) at Orioles (RHP Grayson Rodriguez, 7-4, 4.35 in 2023) at Oriole Park, 1:05 p.m. PT Saturday, Bally Sports West, 830 AM.

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