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  1. If Hollywood hired a writer to write the perfect script for a baseball movie, it couldn’t have done better than what actually happened at Angel Stadium on Friday, July 12, 2019. To set the stage, the Angels were struggling all season long through July 1st, barely holding onto a .500 record. While on the road in Texas, the Angels awoke to the tragic news that their friend, their teammate, their pitcher, Tyler Skaggs had died of an accidental drug overdose in his hotel room. The Angels and Rangers cancelled their game that night, while the team dealt with its grief. The whole team was visibly shaken. Mike Trout tweeted out ““Words cannot express the deep sadness we feel right now. Our thoughts and prayers are with Carli and their families. Remembering him as a great teammate, friend, and person who will forever remain in our hearts… we love you, 45.” Overnight, a memorial, built by fans with flowers, hats, letters, pictures, and posters appeared on the pitching mound in front of Angels Stadium. Everyday, the memorial grew while the Angels finished up their road trip leading up to the All-Star Break. At the All-Star Game, both Mike Trout and Tommy La Stella wore #45 jerseys to honor their teammate. On Friday, July 12th, the Angels opened a homestand with the Mariners. They honored Tyler by having his mother, Debbie throw out the opening pitch. Standing beside her stood Carli, Tyler’s wife, his brother Garret, and stepfather Dan. A visibly emotional Andrew Heaney and Mike Trout carried out a framed Skaggs #45 jersey while every Angels player wore a #45 Skaggs jersey to honor their friend. With the ceremonial 1st pitch, Debbie threw a perfect strike to Andrew Heaney to open the game. Afterwards, she wrote Tyler’s initials on the mound. And then, it was if a guardian angel came down to make this a truly memorial game. Taylor Cole opened the game with a 1-2-3 inning. And then, in the bottom of the first, the Angels offense exploded. They scored 7 runs on 7 hits in the first. Mike Trout drove in 4; two on a homerun and 2 more on a double. The blast travelled 454 feet which was Skaggs’ number forwards and backwards. After Cole pitched two hitless innings, Felix Peña came on in the third and pitched the rest of the way. The combination of these two, was hardly the predictable duo to pitch what happened that night. Cole, had bounced up and down from AAA all season, and Peña rarely had the stamina or control to pitch deep into games. Throughout the emotional crowd, no one wanted to say anything about the magic that was happening before them. In the 6th inning, rookie Matt Thaiss made a spectacular play at 3B, a position he was learning at the Major League level, to record the out. In the 9th, with the crowd on its feet, the Angels made two more spectacular plays to save the no-hitter. The first, against Dee Gordon, was a little nubber that Gordon nearly beat out at first. The second was a smash hit to Luis Rengifo at 2B that for a moment seemed to get away from him, but he recovered to record the out. After the game, the emotions just poured out on the field. The team came together around the mound and one by one took their jerseys off laid them down on the mound, with Skaggs’ name and #45 pointed up to the sky. The symbolism was not lost on the Angels. They knew that they had a guardian angel looking out for them that night, and it showed in many ways. The Angels scored 7 runs in the first, and 13 runs total. Tyler Skaggs was born on 7/13. The combined no hitter was the first combined no hitter in California since 7/13/91—the day that Tyler was born. The Angels collected 13 hits that night. The next day, July 13th, Tyler would have turned 28. The no-hitter that night was the Angels’ 11th no-hitter in franchise history. In high school, Skaggs wore #11. The Angels sent jerseys and balls from the no-hitter to the Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown. Someday they will be on display, and fans can see and learn of the magic of this game. Dee Gordon, the Mariners player best summed up this game when he said “If you don’t believe in God, you might want to start.” If you were there that night, you know he was right. You can watch highlights of this game below. View the full article
  2. ANAHEIM — The start to Albert Pujols’ 20th season in the majors will be delayed by nearly four months. One positive to that is that Pujols will have had more time to put his injury issues behind him. By the time the season starts, it will have been about 22 months since Pujols had the third of three surgeries he had at the end of the 2018 season. He has had two full offseasons, plus what was essentially a third mini-offseason, for his body to recover. “I think being healthy brought me more joy for the game,” Pujols said Saturday morning. “Talk to any athlete and you start going through injuries and tough parts of your career and you start doubting yourself. “There was a period where I couldn’t stay away from the surgery table. Every year it seemed like I had something. Elbow, knee, foot. It was tough. But I think when you stay healthy like I have… it’s like, ‘Wow, this how it felt when I was 25 and in my 30s.’” Pujols, who turned 40 in January, has one season left on his 10-year deal after this one. Although he’s nearing the end of his career, he still has the passion that keeps him going. “If I wake up one day and I don’t feel that desire, that hunger or that passion for the game, that would be last game,” Pujols said. “It could be tomorrow. It could be today. When you cannot compete anymore, that’s when you need to walk out. When you don’t have that hunger and that joy and that passion coming to the ballpark and hanging out with your teammates, that’s when you walk away.” For this 60-game season Pujols is still penciled in to be the Angels’ primary first baseman, although he’ll certainly get all the days off he needs. When Pujols is not playing first, Maddon is expected to use either Matt Thaiss or Jared Walsh. Although Thaiss has not yet been able to participate in camp, Maddon still included him in listing the first-base candidates. Maddon said he’s also talked to Tommy La Stella about first base “as a just-in-case.” Although it’s clear that Pujols at 40 is long past being the force he was during his heyday, Maddon said he’s still been impressed with what Pujols has shown him as far as work ethic and attitude. “He has one agenda,” Maddon said. “He is definitely a Level 5, all-I-want-do-is-win guy. He has been there, done that before. I’m watching his workout here right now and I’m watching him hustle, bust on and off the field, running to first base. To say he gets it is ridiculous. He’s gotten it for so many years.” Pujols further demonstrated his leadership during the pandemic, when he committed about $180,000 to support the Angels employees in the Dominican Republic who had been furloughed. “It’s something I felt was needed for these people,” said Pujols, who added he was unhappy the act leaked to the media. “It’s not like I’m going to help them with all their problems. They’re going to have problems in the future, but I think a little push for the next five months, I was able to do that. I just felt it in my heart to do that and I felt after I spoke with my wife that it was the right thing to do. I know there’s other guys on our ballclub too that have done all this stuff for different coaches in the organization.” Pujols, whose 22-year-old daughter Isabella is high-risk because of Down Syndrome, said he has taken the coronavirus seriously throughout. He believes that MLB’s protocols will work to allow the season to be played during the pandemic. Related Articles Angels manager Joe Maddon says Shohei Ohtani’s stiff back is ‘nothing alarming’ Joe Maddon asks Angels ‘to be the best teammate of their life’ Angels’ Anthony Rendon says he’s ready to go after coronavirus layoff Alexander: Dodgers, Angels in good hands in weird circumstances Angels set to open 2021 season at home After talking to former Angel Jefry Marte, who is playing Japan, Pujols even has some hope that major-league games can be played in front of fans later this season. “He said they’re going to allow like 5,000 fans, maybe, into the stadium, and like 10,000 fans probably within two weeks,” Pujols said. “So hopefully you know this thing goes fast and hopefully by the end of the season – our goal is hopefully everything goes well and they can allow fans like that getting into the stadium and in the playoffs.” View the full article
  3. ANAHEIM — Shohei Ohtani has been slowed over the past few days by some back stiffness, but Manager Joe Maddon said he wasn’t concerned. “He’s feeling good,” Maddon said Saturday. “Obviously we’re going to be cautious with him now. I’m optimistic he’ll be able to take his turn next turn next week. Nothing alarming. Just felt a little stiffness. Yesterday, he felt he was in a pretty good place.” Ohtani is set to resume his role as a two-way player for the first time since 2018. He pitched in an intrasquad game Tuesday and walked seven of the 10 batters he faced. As for at the plate, Maddon said Ohtani will be able to hit in an intrasquad game soon, once the stiffness is gone. View the full article
  4. ANAHEIM — The Angels are just a week into this effort to play a shortened season amid a pandemic and Joe Maddon’s newest signature phrase has become clear. “Everybody has got to be the best teammate of their life right now.” The Angels manager has repeated some version of his sentiment just about every day, only he’s not referring to any of the characteristics normally associated with baseball. “We don’t need you to get the big knock in the ninth inning to drive in the winning run,” Maddon said. “We don’t need you pitch seven scoreless. We don’t need you to grab a hold or pick up a save. We need you to follow the protocols. We need you to follow the protocols to be the best teammate ever.” The coronavirus, of course, has dramatically changed the world, and Major League Baseball has changed to accommodate it. There are more than 100 pages of regulations that dictate how the players and teams should conduct themselves in a manner that gives them the best chance to avoid infection. The document covers everything from a prohibition on spitting to instructions on how players should eat on team charters. Only one person at a time, per row, can have his mask off to eat. The manual, however, has very little detail about what players should do when they aren’t at the ballpark. It is just one paragraph. “MLB will not formally restrict the activities of Covered Individuals when they are away from Club facilities, but will expect the Covered Individuals on each Club to ensure that they all act responsibly,” the document reads. It goes on to suggest that the players and staff members “should agree on their own off-field code of conduct for themselves and their family members to minimize the risk to others.” Andrew Heaney, the Angels’ union player rep, said the message in Zoom meetings has been very clear. “If you’re not at the field, if you’re not in your car, if you’re not in your house, you need to wear a mask,” the left-hander said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re in a state that doesn’t enforce it. It doesn’t matter. You’re going to wear a mask. If you’re getting food, get it to-go. Get it delivered. Don’t go sit down and eat somewhere. Don’t go to bars. Don’t go to large gatherings. “Most of those are common sense, and that everyone should be doing that, but we just want to make sure everybody’s on the same page.” Anthony Rendon said he hasn’t personally been too worried about the coronavirus because no one in his family is at high risk, but now that he’s with his teammates, the third baseman understands the importance of doing things in a certain way, even away from the ballpark. “We have to wear our masks just to protect other people,” Rendon said. “At this time, we have to be selfless toward everyone around us because we don’t know what everyone’s situation is. And I think this is a good opportunity for, us as a world, to realize that selfishness doesn’t go a long way, so we have to look out for one another.” Heaney said the players and other staffers in the immediate bubble have all been made aware that one person’s actions can affect not just his teammates, but their families. “If you start getting a little crack, it can really expand and wreak havoc in the clubhouse,” Heaney said. “Everyone understands that risk is real, and we’re trying to do the best we can to cover all those bases.” Maddon conceded the younger, single, players may be challenged more to stick to the protocols away from the ballpark. The allure of bars, clubs and restaurants is certainly stronger for single players than for those who are going home to a wife and a family, Maddon said. “It’s just true,” Maddon said. “The young man that is mature enough to think beyond that is an impressive young man. You don’t know what sacrifice means until you have your own child.” Certainly, the important considerations are health related. But realistically there are also baseball reasons for preventing the spread of the virus. Even if a player has no symptoms, but tests positive, he must be away from the team until he’s had two negative tests. Key players missing a few games, or a starter missing a turn, can have a dramatic impact in a 60-game sprint of a season. “We all understand what needs to be done and have to take it upon ourselves to individually be responsible, knowing our teammates are relying on us,” pitcher Canning said. “It’s going to take some time getting used to, but it shouldn’t be too bad.” ALSO Although Julio Teheran told ESPN Deportes earlier in the week he was hoping to rejoin the Angels this weekend if his coronavirus test was negative, Maddon said on Friday he still had no update on Teheran’s status. … Related Articles Angels’ Anthony Rendon says he’s ready to go after coronavirus layoff Alexander: Dodgers, Angels in good hands in weird circumstances Angels set to open 2021 season at home Hoornstra: 4 players who emerged as role models despite no baseball to play Angels’ Andrew Heaney comfortable with MLB’s coronavirus protocols so far Jo Adell’s line-drive, opposite-field homer in Thursday’s intrasquad game impressed Maddon, but not just because of the way he hit the ball. “The part about it I liked the best was how he broke out of the batter’s box,” Maddon said. “He didn’t assume that was going to be a home run. That was refreshing. So, he did everything right.” Maddon said it’s still too early in camp to judge whether the Angels’ top prospect has improved since spring training. … The Angels continue to put an emphasis on bunting, just as they did in Arizona. They have a station set up in right field for bunting drills. The have also been bunting during their intrasquad games. View the full article
  5. ANAHEIM — A week after the end of three-month stretch in which he admittedly spent more time changing diapers than doing baseball work, Anthony Rendon said he’s nonetheless ready to go. “When we grow up, coaches say you can’t turn it on and off like it’s a light switch,” the Angels third baseman said Thursday. “You can’t just decide to show up whenever you want. But I think as we get older, we know what we need to do to prepare ourselves for a game. As men, as professionals, I think there is a little bit of a light switch where we know that we’ve got to go right now. We can kind of turn it on and say we need to get down to business and bear down because the real deal is about to happen. “If the season started today, I think a lot of guys, including myself, would be ready and can actually perform out there and be comfortable.” Seven months after signing a seven-year, $245-million deal with the Angels, Rendon is now two weeks away from finally making his debut, provided the coronavirus cooperates and allows the season to start. Rendon had a month with his new teammates before the shutdown, and since then he has been at home with his wife and their two daughters, ages 2 and four months. Because he was busy with family and trying to stay safe, Rendon said he didn’t venture out much for baseball. “A lot of mental hacks,” he said. “Mental ground balls. Mental throws. I’d throw a tennis ball against the wall, maybe…. It’s kind of a terrible situation that we’re in now. I didn’t really do too much but try to stay in shape as best I could.” KIDS’ GAME Most of the Angels major-leaguers worked out early and then were done for the day, with the minor-leaguers playing in a short intrasquad game. The highlight was a Jo Adell homer, a line drive over the fence in right-center. Jose Rodriguez and Chris Rodriguez each took two turns on the mound, marking a significant milestone for Chris Rodriguez. One of the Angels’ top pitching prospects, Chris Rodriguez has missed significant time throughout his short pro career with back problems. Manager Joe Maddon said he would watch the game as if he were a scout, looking for little hints at the players’ potential. “You just got to watch how the guy reacts to the moment,” Maddon said. “As a position player, you might see something in the batter’s box you like. You might see a first move you like on defense. The pitcher, you’re looking for delivery, looseness, free arm, carry out of the hand, and again, how he handles this situation. And if he’s able to be in control of his emotions.” The regulars are expected to be back in action for Friday afternoon’s intrasquad game. NOISE REPORT A day after the Angels played their intrasquad game with crowd noise piped in over the ballpark speakers, the experiment got mixed reviews from Rendon and Maddon. Rendon said he wasn’t buying it the noise without the fans. “It’s like you have two of your senses that aren’t coinciding with one another,” he said. “It’s like you’re looking at a pizza, but you’re smelling a hamburger. You hear noise, but you know nobody in the stands. You don’t see anybody. I think it was dumb. I’d rather listen to music.” Maddon, however, said it served its purpose of keeping his focus on the field. He had to raise his voice to communicate with GM Billy Eppler, who was sitting just behind the screen. “It felt somewhat normal,” Maddon said. “Because your emphasis is there and it’s not quiet and you’re just looking around. I think you can be distracted by the quiet. I think you have a better chance of locking in with noise. It’s different. It’s not playing golf.” The Angels used the crowd noise again Thursday. NEW FACES Jared Walsh and Patrick Sandoval, who had been two of the players absent from camp without explanation in the first week, arrived and participated in workouts Thursday, Maddon said. Related Articles Alexander: Dodgers, Angels in good hands in weird circumstances Angels set to open 2021 season at home Hoornstra: 4 players who emerged as role models despite no baseball to play Angels’ Andrew Heaney comfortable with MLB’s coronavirus protocols so far Shohei Ohtani pitches in Angels’ intrasquad game, looks rusty The Angels have also added right-hander Adrian De Horta to their player pool. De Horta had been in big-league camp in spring training. They are expected to add left-handed pitcher Adam Seminaris, who they just last month selected in the fifth round out of Long Beach State. View the full article
  6. Let’s face it: Pandemic Baseball is already a squirrel derby, to use the pet phrase of one of This Space’s favorites, the late Cal State Fullerton and Fullerton College football coach Gene Murphy. It is going to be different, it is occasionally (often?) going to be chaotic, and the normal boundaries aren’t always going to apply for players, fans, executives, whatever. Under those circumstances, if you are a Southern California baseball fan, you should be heartened. From a managerial standpoint, at least, the Dodgers and Angels are in good hands as they try to navigate whatever craziness is ahead. Dave Roberts has already created and nurtured a Dodgers clubhouse philosophy of flexibility, especially with a position player group where, with a couple of exceptions, nothing is guaranteed night to night. New Angels manager Joe Maddon believes in the comfort of being uncomfortable, acknowledging the hurdles and working through them, and keeping the lines of communication open to a greater degree than most managers. It would be easy to be thrown off by this new (temporary?) normal, right down to a list of protocols previously unimaginable in this most traditional and routine-oriented of sports. “You got to roll with it, man,” Maddon was saying the other day. “You just can’t be inflexible right now … I mean, I can’t say anything’s been difficult. “It’s really weird, though, when you really have to spit, how tough it is to spit. I mean, that’s probably the most difficult thing. Otherwise, it’s not been that bad.” In such moments are we again reminded of what the title of “manager” means. So much is made of lineups and in-game strategy and how much of a role front-office functionaries play in each, but the real heart of a manager’s work is in managing personalities and creating the right atmosphere. (And, these days, also reminding them to avoid high-fives and leave the sunflower seeds at home.) “You’re always trying to make sure the players are physically, mentally and emotionally prepared, and things are always kind of unknown and unpredictable,” Roberts said. “But obviously, like everyone else, (with) this kind of layer with the global pandemic, I never really thought I would have to try to educate myself so I could kind of help the players along and really keep their psyches positive and focused on baseball. “Everyone is in that same bucket, I guess … There’s a lot of logistic things that are still kind of coming towards us as you get closer to the season. So I’m just trying to be open-minded (and) nimble, and hopefully our players will follow suit.” The Dodgers have had a player opt out in pitcher David Price. Both teams, along with just about every other team, have had players who have reported late or haven’t yet arrived at Training Camp 2.0, for reasons the managers have said they couldn’t describe but very well might be coronavirus related. There are new additions to the language of baseball, satellite camps and taxi squads, and the hallowed routines of baseball – including the clubhouse as refuge/hangout/bonding space – are being revised out of necessity. There will be unforeseen twists and turns going forward, and everything is overlaid with the possibility that in the event of a major outbreak within the sport, the season doesn’t get completed at all. Amid all of that, players still have to perform. “I’m just trying to, no pun intended, take a daily temperature, like trying to figure out everybody’s comfort zone and how everybody’s processing all of this,” Maddon said. “… There’s so many different ways that our mood is influenced before we ever get here, and then you have to come here and be a major-league baseball player and try to park it all. I’m a feel guy, and as much as ever I’ve been attempting to keep the feelers out there and try to understand where everybody is at every day. This includes the coaching staff, too, and I got to be aware of that. It includes my family, my daughter, my granddaughter, my wife. “You can look at somebody’s face. There’s something, concern or preoccupation. We all know what that feels like when you’re preoccupied with different thoughts to take you away from this exact moment. You get out of the present tense. That’s very concerning, and it could take you away from your ability to play this game. … I really believe empathy and the ability to be aware of who’s next to you and how they’re feeling matters now more than ever.” The mind reels at the idea of a Billy Martin or Dick Williams or Leo Durocher – the crusty old-school type of manager who believed feelings were for wimps – trying to navigate these choppy waters. It would be ugly. There are other factors here. Maddon turned 66 in February. Roberts is 48 and a cancer survivor. Both could be considered part of the group that could be hardest hit by COVID-19, but neither has shown any hesitancy in pushing forward. Roberts had previously said he had consulted with Dodgers’ medical people who told him people with prior cancer history “haven’t been prone to be at higher risk.” “I thought about what was at stake, given my health history,” Roberts said this week. “I talked to my wife and family. I just wanted to make sure, you know. I had to make sure that I’m responsible. But I never really considered opting out or choosing not to manage.” For his team, that’s a very good thing. Pandemic Baseball is an environment that’s uncertain and in some ways scary. The steadier the hand at the helm, the better. jalexander@scng.com @Jim_Alexander on Twitter View the full article
  7. The Angels’ four-year streak of opening the season in Oakland is set to end in 2021. Major League Baseball released its 2021 schedule Thursday – still two weeks shy of the opening of the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season – and the Angels are set to open at home against the Chicago White Sox on April 1. The Angels opened the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons in Oakland, and they are scheduled to open this season in Oakland on July 24. They were originally scheduled to play their first game this year in Houston, but most of the season was lost to the pandemic. As a result of this year’s regional-based schedule, created to minimize travel, the Angels will play the National League West two years in a row in interleague play. The AL West had been scheduled all along to play the NL West in 2021, but this year’s schedule was changed from the NL East to NL West. The Angels will play the Dodgers in Anaheim from May 7-9 and at Dodger Stadium from Aug. 6-8, both weekends. The Angels will play at Arizona and host the Colorado Rockies, with home-and-home series against the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. The Angels finish the 2021 season in Seattle from Oct. 1-3. Related Articles Hoornstra: 4 players who emerged as role models despite no baseball to play Angels’ Andrew Heaney comfortable with MLB’s coronavirus protocols so far Shohei Ohtani pitches in Angels’ intrasquad game, looks rusty Angels schedule: Who the team will play in 2020 season MLB announces 60-game schedule; Dodgers and Angels will open on ESPN View the full article
  8. On a conference call with Max Muncy on Wednesday afternoon, I asked the Dodgers’ first baseman what he learned about himself during the vast downtime created by the coronavirus pandemic. “I learned I’m probably not very good company,” Muncy quipped, “without baseball.” The same might be said by any young man who’s never questioned how to occupy his free time between March and July until now. The absence of baseball did something else, something more public. It revealed a handful of major-leaguers as terrific role models beyond their skill and effort on the field. Some of us – most, hopefully – do not need reminding that being a good athlete isn’t enough to make a person a good role model. For everyone else, the last two months were a wake-up call. To be clear, baseball didn’t begin offering these moments once a global pandemic struck. In November, I visited the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center to report on Kenley Jansen’s generous toy donation to the children hospitalized there. At the time, the Astros’ cheating scandal was unfolding through a series of public revelations. Jansen’s reaction to those revelations, as someone who made six appearances in the 2017 World Series, was newsworthy. He suggested lifetime bans as an appropriate measure of punishment. That got him into the daily news cycle, but it did not make him a role model by itself. With no at-bats, no pitches, and no games, active players have been more free than ever to choose to be a public voice for good – or not. Ironically, it might have taken the absence of professional sports to reveal their character as everyday role models. So, what can a few thoughtful baseball players do with nothing but time and myriad social issues creating a national conversation? Here are a few examples: 1. Ian Desmond The Colorado Rockies’ utilityman penned a heartfelt essay on Instagram that suggested he has a future in journalism. (I’m doomed.) As of Wednesday, the post had more than 42,000 likes. Desmond ostensibly intended to explain why he was opting out of playing this season. “With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what’s going on in the world,” he wrote, “home is where I need to be right now.” Desmond kept going. He described a recent visit to the Little League fields of his youth in Sarasota, Florida. He recalled them as “a place where baseball could be played by any kid who wanted it.” He offered memories that ran the gamut from close-knit camaraderie to harsh racism (Desmond is a biracial man who identifies as Black). So what will Desmond continue to do with his down time? “I’ll be right here, at my old Little League, and I’m working with everyone involved to make sure we get Sarasota Youth Baseball back on track,” he said. “It’s what I can do, in the scheme of so much. So, I am.” 2. Sean Doolittle The Nationals’ closer has been a champion in his community for years, and one of a handful of prolific Twitter users who can never be called a “keyboard warrior.” It was no surprise, then, that Doolittle was the rare player to directly address the lousy timing of MLB’s labor dispute with its players without mincing words. “There’s social unrest in our country amid a global pandemic,” Doolittle wrote on his Twitter account on June 8. “Baseball won’t solve these problems, but maybe it could help. We’ve been staying ready & we proposed 114 games – to protect the integrity of the game, to give back to our fans & cities, and because we want to play. It’s frustrating to have a public labor dispute when there’s so much hardship. I hate it. But we have an obligation to future players to do right by them. We want to play. We also have to make sure that future players won’t be paying for any concessions we make.” The message exuded the best kind of honesty, one that resists pandering and voluntarily opens the speaker to criticism. It stood in direct contrast to the owner who claimed the baseball industry “isn’t very profitable.” 3. Joey Votto The Reds’ first baseman penned a guest column in the Cincinnati Enquirer on June 7 that took an honest, self-reflective look at white privilege. Votto described his reaction to a Black teammate sending him a video of George Floyd dying beneath the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. “My instincts provoked an instantaneous defense of the officer,” Votto wrote. “Perhaps the man was resisting arrest? Maybe there is a story the video isn’t telling?” A day later, Votto said he watched the video, wept, and texted his teammate to apologize for his resistance. “Everything inside of me wants things to go back to normal,” Votto wrote. “I don’t want to protest, raise my voice, or challenge someone. I don’t want to have heated arguments, break up friendships, or challenge previous norms. But I hear you now, and so that desire for normalcy is a privilege by which I can no longer abide.” 4. David Price Price didn’t intend to publicize his pledge of $1,000 to every Dodgers minor-league player for the month of June. When word got out via social media, Price copped to the broad act of generosity. Major-league players have drawn criticism – at times justified – for not doing more to help their non-unionized minor-league brethren. Price put his money where his mouth is. He would go on to forfeit $11.85 million of his base salary by opting out of the 2020 season, but not before raising awareness of the minor-leaguers’ futile fight for living wages – and lifting the boat for an entire organization’s worth of players. View the full article
  9. ANAHEIM — Andrew Heaney, who has been a part of the process to figure out how all this is working, seems to be confident that it can. “I think everybody here feels pretty safe and comfortable with the way we’re handling things,” said Heaney, who is one of the Angels’ player reps to the union. Major League Baseball is about to have a season amid the coronavirus pandemic. While logistical issues have created more questions about whether it’s possible to go forward, Heaney endorsed the sport’s efforts. A few days after the Angels had to alter their workout plans because the officials administering the coronavirus tests didn’t show up, Heaney said Wednesday he is hoping that was “a one-off” related to the holiday. “I feel good,” Heaney said. “Every day I see our staff, our players, the way they handle their business, I see there is genuine understanding, care and concern with how everything is handled on a day-to-day basis. So I feel comfortable. I really do.” The Angels seem to be working into a routine after a few days of hiccups. They pushed the start of their workouts back to allow more time for testing results to come back. They have players spending their down time in individually assigned luxury suites at Angel Stadium, rather than congregating in the clubhouse. They have been working out on the field in smaller groups. “I’ve got to commend MLB,” Manager Joe Maddon said. “This is very complicated, as you can see. I’m really impressed with everything involved in this and how well thought out it is. Of course, you’re going to have some hiccups and, of course, things aren’t going to be perfect. To expect perfection right now is a bad assumption and an expectation. “So I think we’ve done a great job, but I commend them, the guys that put this together. I think it’s going to keep getting better.” TEHERAN COMING SOON? One of the awkward situations of playing amid the coronavirus is that teams can’t release any information about conditions that aren’t related to playing – including the coronavirus – without consent of the player. That means in many cases players are absent with no explanation. Julio Teheran, the most prominent Angels player to be absent so far, cleared up some of his situation in an interview on Wednesday with ESPN Deportes. Teheran said in Spanish that he and members of his family had started to feel symptoms suggesting the coronavirus right before he was to travel to Southern California. Teheran said he is still in Atlanta, awaiting test results, but he hopes to be in Anaheim in a few days. “It is sad to be here while my teammates have returned to work,” Teheran said in Spanish. “I hope to rejoin the team this weekend.” Teheran added that his “arm is fine.” After being told of Teheran’s comments Wednesday, Maddon wasn’t ready to say that the pitcher would be ready to start the season in the rotation, even if he arrives this weekend. “You wouldn’t want to push it,” Maddon said, adding that once Teheran arrives they will assess his condition. Heaney, who will start the July 24 opener, is in camp and healthy, as are Shohei Ohtani, Griffin Canning and Dylan Bundy. Those four will be in the rotation, with Matt Andriese and Felix Peña the leading candidates to fill out the rotation while waiting for Teheran. Related Articles Shohei Ohtani pitches in Angels’ intrasquad game, looks rusty Angels schedule: Who the team will play in 2020 season MLB announces 60-game schedule; Dodgers and Angels will open on ESPN Issues with MLB coronavirus testing process disrupt Angels workouts Angels’ Griffin Canning says his elbow feels ‘normal’ after injection Jaime Barria is also in camp, but Jose Suarez and Patrick Sandoval are not. The Angels have not provided a reason for Suarez and Sandoval’s absence. ALSO The Angels claimed right-hander Jacob Rhame on waivers from the New York Mets. Rhame will be able to join the team after testing negative for the coronavirus. Rhame, 24, has a 6.23 ERA in 44 major-league games over the past three seasons, all in relief. He has struck out 40 and walked 24 in 47 2/3 innings. Maddon said they haven’t decided which day of the week would be the best to have Ohtani make his once-a-week starts, but he confirmed that a key factor is the proximity to days off. The Angels don’t use Ohtani as the DH the day before or after he pitches. The Angels have three of their six off days on Mondays, making Sunday a logical choice for his starts. View the full article
  10. ANAHEIM – The old normal was the new normal at Angel Stadium for an afternoon. Shohei Ohtani threw three innings in the Angels’ first intrasquad game of summer camp. The stands were empty, save a section in left field full of printed-out fan headshots. The public-address system played music on a continuous loop. The home plate umpire was Tim Buss, the Angels’ quality assurance coach. Only the players and uniforms looked as they normally do, but such is baseball at the moment. For the Angels, seeing Ohtani pitch would have to suffice. Throwing exclusively from the stretch, Ohtani was predictably rusty. He faced 10 batters and walked seven of them. Ohtani agreed his command was off, but it’s hard to measure how much since some normal rules weren’t enforced. For example, Ohtani was allowed to continue pitching to Anthony Rendon after hitting him in the backside with a pitch in the third inning. A portable screen behind catcher Jason Castro prevented runners from advancing on what might normally be wild pitches. When Ohtani reached his pitch limit for the first inning in the middle of an Albert Pujols plate appearance, the inning simply ended. “I’m glad to get through my pitches that I was supposed to pitch without any physical problems,” he said through an interpreter. “I’m very satisfied.” Ohtani said he threw all his pitches, among approximately 50 in all. Now he’ll take “three or four more days to recover” before getting back on a mound.Related Articles Angels schedule: Who the team will play in 2020 season MLB announces 60-game schedule; Dodgers and Angels will open on ESPN Issues with MLB coronavirus testing process disrupt Angels workouts Angels’ Griffin Canning says his elbow feels ‘normal’ after injection Shohei Ohtani eager to return to two-way role with Angels Ohtani was limited to designated hitter duties in 2019 after he returned from Tommy John surgery in May. For Ohtani the pitcher, Tuesday’s atmosphere was his most game-like since the Sept. 2018 start that put half of his unparalleled two-way career on hold. Ohtani began facing live hitters in May. Angels manager Joe Maddon cautioned against expecting any pitcher to replicate his typical mid-season form in a practice environment. “There’s nothing to be concerned about, or alarmed” with Ohtani, Maddon said. “He just did not have good rhythm with his delivery.” Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here. TESTING CONCERNS Monday, the firm contracted to Major League Baseball for coronavirus testing didn’t arrive to collect the necessary samples from Angels employees, and a team-wide morning workout became an optional afternoon workout. Getting tested wasn’t an issue for the Angels on Tuesday. For at least one player, however, Monday’s no-show raised major concerns. “Someone has dropped the ball somewhere in Major League Baseball’s office and it’s putting our best players at risk,” pitcher Ryan Buchter told MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. “It’s putting all of us at risk.” The Angels aren’t alone in grappling with testing issues. Tuesday, the San Francisco Giants announced they were canceling their workouts because they had not received the result of tests administered Saturday. The Nationals cancelled their workout Monday because they still had not received the results from Friday’s tests. “Our staff here with Anaheim is doing a tremendous job,” Buchter said. “Our trainers are, I’m sure, overworked and just getting the crap beat out of them. Our front office is putting out a good message and they’re trying to keep everybody upbeat. The coaches are taking every measure possible, you know, walking around with constant gloves on masks. Really covering themselves carrying sanitizer. Everybody seems to be doing their part. And then we come to where MLB has really dropped the ball in the testing process.” ABSENT ANGELS Add pitchers Jose Suarez and Patrick Sandoval, and two-way player Jared Walsh, to the list of Angels who are not participating in summer camp activities. Maddon could not say why they are absent. Teams are prohibited from giving information about coronavirus-related absences without the player’s consent. Players also could be missing simply because they haven’t yet received results. Maddon didn’t provide an update about pitcher Julio Teheran, who has been absent from the outset of camp. He was placed on the 10-day injured list Monday along with pitchers Jose Suarez and Dillon Peters, and second baseman Luis Rengifo. None of their injuries were disclosed. The same is true of Matt Thaiss, who wasn’t on the field again Tuesday but has not been placed on the injured list. “I have not heard anything,” Maddon said of Teheran, who was expected to begin the season in the Angels’ rotation. “I have not heard from him specifically and I have not heard from the medical group either. For me, there’s been no contact.” ALSO Left-hander Andrew Heaney, who is scheduled to start Opening Day in Oakland on July 24, pitched four intrasquad innings. Brian Goodwin hit a ball over the yellow right field stripe for a two-run home run, the only runs on Heaney’s ledger. … Jo Adell, the consensus top prospect in the Angels’ organization, saw time in center field and rapped out what would have been an infield single in his first plate appearance. … Dylan Bundy and Griffin Canning will be the opposing pitchers in a six-inning intrasquad game Wednesday. … Every player present for the Angels’ reserve camp at Long Beach State’s Blair Field was invited to the intrasquad game. … The Angels signed Werner Blakely, their fourth-round pick in the June amateur draft. The high school shortstop from Michigan received a $900,000 signing bonus, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis. All four of their draft picks are now under contract. View the full article
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  12. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will play against the Athletics to open the season on July 24. July 24-27: at Athletics July 28-30: vs. Mariners July 31-Aug. 3: vs. Astros Aug. 4-6: at Mariners Aug. 7-9: at Rangers Aug. 10-12: vs. Athletics Aug. 14-16: at Angels Aug. 17-18: vs. GiantsAug. 19-20: at Giants Aug. 21-23: at Athletics Aug. 24-27: at Astros Aug. 28-31: vs. Mariners Sept. 2-3: vs. Padres Sept. 4-6: vs. Astros Sept. 9-10: at Rangers Sept. 11-13: at Rockies Sept. 15-17: vs. Diamondbacks at Angels Sept. 18-21: vs. Rangers Sept. 22-23: at Padres Sept. 25-27: at Dodgers Related Articles MLB announces 60-game schedule; Dodgers and Angels will open on ESPN Issues with MLB coronavirus testing process disrupt Angels workouts Angels’ Griffin Canning says his elbow feels ‘normal’ after injection Shohei Ohtani eager to return to two-way role with Angels Mike Trout says he’s still unsure about playing even as Angels workouts begin View the full article
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  14. The Dodgers will begin the shortest regular season in franchise history at home against the Giants on July 23. The Angels will play their first game the next night in Oakland. Commissioner Rob Manfred resolved months of suspense by unilaterally imposing an abbreviated season in June, and Major League Baseball announced the 60-game schedules for every team on Monday. Because of the novel coronavirus, the season was placed on hold in March. The state of California disallowed live crowds at sporting events shortly thereafter. The number of daily recorded coronavirus cases has gradually trended upward ever since, and it’s unclear whether fans will be allowed in Dodger Stadium or Angel Stadium between now and October. With no tickets on sale, MLB had the luxury of time in announcing its schedule. The regular season ends Sept. 27 with the finale of a three-game series between the Dodgers and Angels at Dodger Stadium. All 15 games that day are scheduled to begin at noon. A traditional three-round postseason will follow. Dodger Stadium will host three exhibition games: July 19 and 20 against the Diamondbacks, and July 21 against the Angels. The Angels also have exhibition games July 20 at San Diego and July 22 at home against the Padres. Following their four-game series in Oakland to begin the season, the Angels play their first home game July 28 against the Mariners, a 6:40 p.m. start. The Opening Day matchup between the Dodgers and Giants will be televised by ESPN, a scheduled 7:08 p.m. game. Two days later, Fox will televise the Saturday rematch at 4 p.m. The next day, July 26, the teams return to ESPN for a 7 p.m. “Sunday Night Baseball” game. Fox is also televising a Saturday game between the Astros and Dodgers on Sept. 12 at 5 p.m. The Dodgers visit Houston for the first time since the 2017 World Series on July 28-29. The Astros visit Los Angeles Sept. 12 and 13. With two exceptions – Opening Day, and a 4:10 game against the Mariners on Aug. 18 – every weekday home game at Dodger Stadium is scheduled to begin at 6:40 p.m. ESPN is televising the Angels’ opener on July 24 at 7 p.m. Fox is televising two Saturday Angel games at 4 p.m.: Aug. 1 against the Astros and Sept. 19 against the Rangers. The 2020 schedule features some familiar baseball hallmarks. The vast majority of weekday home games will be played under the lights. Most Sunday games will be afternoon affairs. Every series will consist of two, three or four games. Other than its length, the biggest change to the schedule involves a lack of travel. The Dodgers and Angels will not play any regular season games outside their division, with the exception of interleague games against other West division teams. The Angels will make one interleague road trip to San Francisco (Aug. 19-20), one to Colorado (Sept. 11-13), and another to San Diego (Sept. 22-23). The Giants (Aug. 17-18) and Padres (Sept. 2-3) visit Angel Stadium. The Angels’ only other interleague series is Aug. 14-16 against the Dodgers in Anaheim. The Dodgers play the Mariners (Aug. 17-18 at home, Aug. 19-20 in Seattle), Rangers (Aug. 28-30 in Texas), and A’s (Sept. 22-23 at home), in addition to their series against the Angels and Astros. Related Articles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts cherished family time, stayed in shape during quarantine Issues with MLB coronavirus testing process disrupt Angels workouts Dodgers have decision to make on ‘next man up’ to replace David Price Angels’ Griffin Canning says his elbow feels ‘normal’ after injection Shohei Ohtani eager to return to two-way role with Angels The Angels are scheduled to play 18 games in 18 days from Aug. 14-31, sandwiched between a pair of home off-days. The Dodgers’ longest stretch of consecutive games is 17, from Aug. 7-23. That streak curiously includes 15 games in Southern California sandwiched around two in Seattle (Aug. 19 and 20). Jackie Robinson Day, which normally takes place each April 15, will be celebrated Aug. 28. That date marks the anniversary of the March on Washington in 1963, as well as the date in 1945 when Branch Rickey met with Robinson to discuss his future in the big leagues. View the full article
  15. A day after officials contracted by Major League Baseball failed to show up to administer the Angels’ coronavirus tests, the team twice delayed its workouts to accommodate the tests, according to a source. At least three other teams — the Oakland A’s, Houston Astros and Washington Nationals — have had workouts delayed or canceled because of logistical issues with testing in the past 24 hours. As MLB attempts to forge ahead with a season amid the coronavirus pandemic, all players are supposed to be tested at least every 48 hours. The tests are administered by an outside company, which runs them through a lab in Salt Lake City. On Sunday, the testers did not arrive at either Angel Stadium or Long Beach State’s Blair Field, the alternate site the Angels are using for many of their players. The Angels instead collected the saliva samples with their own staff. Their workout on Monday had been scheduled to start at 9 a.m., but on Sunday night it was pushed back to noon and then on Monday morning it was pushed back to 1 p.m. As of Monday morning, they were expecting testers to be present on Monday. They will continue to work out later in the day to allow more time for the test results to be logged. Teams began reporting for summer camp last Wednesday, a process that involved extensive testing of all players and staffers who work closely with players. In order to participate, a person must receive a negative test for coronavirus. Many players throughout the majors have been absent from camps so far, and only a fraction of those have actually been reported to have positive tests. Many others are presumably still awaiting results, or awaiting results of tests from family members. So far different teams appear to be having different issues with the logistics of the testing. The A’s had a batch of their samples still awaiting transportation to Salt Lake City, apparently delayed because of the holiday. The Nationals canceled their workout on Monday because they hadn’t received the results of tests taken on Friday. The Astros also canceled their workout. View the full article
  16. ANAHEIM >> Griffin Canning is cautiously optimistic that he can be a success story for platelet-rich plasma treatments. Most of the pitchers who have tried similar biologic injections to avoid surgery for injuries have ended up merely postponing the procedures. In recent years with the Angels, Andrew Heaney, Shohei Ohtani and Garrett Richards all had Tommy John surgery after failing to get adequate results from the PRP. Canning, though, has now been throwing to hitters for about two months, including a simulated three innings as recently as Friday. On Sunday morning, he said he’s still feeling good. “It just feels like normal, honestly,” Canning said. “Like my elbow has felt in the past when I hadn’t have any issues with it. That’s probably the best way to explain it.” Canning felt what he described as tightness following his throwing back in spring training. He underwent a battery of tests that didn’t show any damage that would require surgery, so he tried the PRP and rest. The coronavirus pandemic bought him more time, and he seems to have benefited. He said he will remain cautious, though. “I feel like it will always be around,” he said. “It’s something I’m going to have to work with and manage, but I definitely feel 10 times better than I did in the spring, so I’m very happy about that.” Canning, 24, had his rookie season ended early in August, because he was feeling some elbow issues and the Angels were out of the race. He insisted he was fine throughout the winter and the beginning of the spring, before the issue returned. Certainly, the jury will be out on him until he is able to pitch in the competition of a game without having an issues. Manager Joe Maddon said he’s eager to have Canning in his rotation. “I’ve been impressed with him from the first time I saw him during the regular camp,” Maddon said. “I don’t see any reason why (he wouldn’t be in the rotation) if he just continues along this path. This guy is a premier pitcher. He’s not just a pitcher. This guy, with good health, he’s going to have a nice major league career.” THE REST OF THE ROTATION…. Andrew Heaney, who was scheduled to be Angels starter for the Mar. 26 Opening Day in Houston, will still start on Opening Day in July, Maddon said. After that, the Angels rotation still has at least one significant question mark. Julio Teheran was still not working out with the team on Sunday, the third day of camp, and Maddon said he couldn’t say when Teheran would join the team or whether it would be soon enough to pencil him into the rotation. “That’s going to be based on when he gets here and how much time we have available to us to really get him stretched out properly,” Maddon said. “So I don’t have a specific answer for that. That is still up in the air. Once we get him here I’ll be able to answer that more directly. But for right now I can’t tell you for sure that he’d be able to be available.” Shohei Ohtani, Dylan Bundy and Canning all have been in camp and throwing. Barring injury, those three would join Heaney in the rotation. Beyond that, both Matt Andriese and Felix Peña are in camp and working out as starters, although they could also go to the bullpen. Jaime Barria, Patrick Sandoval and Jose Suarez were also starter candidates in spring training. ALSO Add Matt Thaiss to the list of players who isn’t yet in camp. Maddon said only that Thaiss’ absence was related to the “protocols.” Players must receive a negative a coronavirus test before beginning workouts. … Related Articles Shohei Ohtani eager to return to two-way role with Angels Mike Trout says he’s still unsure about playing even as Angels workouts begin 5 questions as the Angels begin Summer Camp Hoornstra: A game of skill is embarking on a season of survival Angels Q&A: When will Jo Adell be in the big leagues? Maddon came away impressed after meeting left-hander Reid Detmers on Saturday. Detmers, the Angels’ first-round pick from last month, is working out with the group in Long Beach. “This guy is easy to like,” Maddon said. “You get immediately the sense of a slower heartbeat and the maturity, so he’s going to fit in really well.”… Maddon also said he was impressed with Jo Adell, who is working out in Long Beach. “Adell looked really good,” Maddon said. “Swung the bat well.” View the full article
  17. ANAHEIM — Shohei Ohtani has been waiting a long time to be comfortable again. Before missing three and a half months because of the sport’s coronavirus shutdown, Ohtani had spent more than 17 months rehabbing as a pitcher after Tommy John surgery. Now, he can finally see the finish line. When baseball season begins later this month, Ohtani will again be a two-way player. “Last year was a weird season for me, actually,” Ohtani said through his Saturday. “I’m going to my normal routine this year. So in that sense, I feel very comfortable. This season is a short season so it’s more like a sprint than a marathon. I’m going to try to go 100 percent out of the gate and start and finish strong.” That would be a blessing for the Angels, who would get a huge boost if Ohtani can pitch at the level he showed in 2018. Ohtani has been throwing to hitters during workouts during the shutdown, but he hasn’t faced a hitter during the first two days of official team workouts. He will move on to that in the next few days, and then be able to pitch in intrasquad games. “I’ll ramp up my intensity there and see how my arm reacts,” Ohtani said. “But as of now, I feel really good.” Manager Joe Maddon said last week the Angels plan to use Ohtani as they did in 2018, before he injured his elbow. Ohtani pitched once a week, at most, and was the designated hitter in between. That season, Ohtani posted a 3.31 ERA in 10 starts, along with a .925 OPS and 22 homers in 367 plate appearances. But 2019 did not quite live up to the standard he set, aside from the fact he couldn’t pitch because of his rehab. Ohtani hit just 18 homers in 425 plate appearances, with his OPS dropping to .848. The AL OPS was .762. The difference was not really the quality of contact, but the launch angle, which dropped from 12.3 degrees in 2018 to 6.8 degrees in 2019. In order to try to improve as a hitter, Ohtani was experimenting in spring training with bringing back the leg kick that he had abandoned just before the start of the 2018 season. Now, after three months of workouts, he said he’s not going to use much of a leg kick. “Actually lifting or not lifting my leg is not a big deal for me,” he said. “It’s actually how my body reacts once my foot lands. So as long as I have the timing, the lifting the leg or not is not a big issue.” Ohtani, who turns 26 on Sunday, said he hasn’t done much but work on his game during the quarantine. When he wasn’t at the ballpark or in the gym, he was mostly sleeping, he said. Maddon, who has gotten his first extended exposure to Ohtani over the past six months, said he’s been impressed with his commitment to improvement. “He is so dedicated to his craft,” Maddon said. “He wants to be great. He doesn’t just want to be good. He wants to be great. So that’s really the takeaway I get from him. He’s really motivated.” ALSO Julio Teheran is among the players who have not yet begun working out in either Anaheim or Long Beach, although Maddon couldn’t say why. Teams aren’t permitted to disclose a positive COVID-19 test without the player’s consent, but there are other coronavirus-related reasons a player may be unavailable. Players could still be waiting for test results, or a family member may be awaiting test results. Players also must quarantine for a certain number of days after traveling, so that could cause a short delay in arriving at camp. … The Angels first intrasquad game will be Tuesday, a day earlier than Maddon had indicated previously. Maddon had said on Friday that they would have five days of workouts before the game, but he didn’t realize pitching coach Mickey Callaway had counted Thursday’s throwing sessions as the first day. … Related Articles Mike Trout says he’s still unsure about playing even as Angels workouts begin 5 questions as the Angels begin Summer Camp Hoornstra: A game of skill is embarking on a season of survival Angels Q&A: When will Jo Adell be in the big leagues? Angels to continue minor league stipends through at least July Maddon said he is hoping to get the starters stretched out to about 90 pitches by the start of the season. Normally starters would not throw much more than 90 pitches in spring training before stretching out to 100 in the season. … Maddon attended the workout in Long Beach on Saturday, and had positive reviews for the condition of Blair Field and what he dubbed “the Jered Weaver bullpen.” The former Angels ace pitched at Long Beach State. “It is reminiscent of any high-A, double-A ballpark,” Maddon said. View the full article
  18. ANAHEIM — The Angels worked out on Friday morning at Angel Stadium, their first official team workout in 113 days, and Mike Trout was on the field, wearing a mask for some drills. Whether he — or any of his teammates — will be there a week or a month from now is unclear as baseball attempts to stage a season amid a pandemic. About “nine or 10” Angels players were unavailable to work out at Angel Stadium or their alternate site at Long Beach State on Friday, Manager Joe Maddon said. Maddon couldn’t say who those players were or why they were unavailable, but he said it wasn’t because any had opted out. Trout was there, although he said he’s still wrestling with that decision. His wife is due to deliver the couple’s first child next month. “Honestly, I still don’t feel comfortable with the baby coming,” Trout said. “Obviously, with the baby coming there’s a lot of stuff going through my mind right now, my wife’s mind, my family. Trying to get the safest and most cautious way to get through a season.” Trout said at the moment he has decided to play because “I love playing this game,” but he conceded that discussions with his family are ongoing. “It’s going to come down to how safe it’ll be,” he said. “If there’s an outbreak or something happens in the next few weeks, I’ll have to reconsider. There are a lot of questions. I love baseball, but I have to do what’s right for my family. It’s a tough decision if something happens down the road. A lot of guys have questions. “It’s a tough and crazy situation right now in the country and in the world. Nobody really knows or has the answers. I talk to my wife every night about this. I know I’m risking myself and that I could get this virus but it’s the last thing I want to do. I’ve talked to a lot of guys around the league and they’re texting me a lot and they’re all thinking the same thing. Is this going to work? We just have to stay as safe as we can.” Teams began three weeks of workouts at their home ballparks on Friday. The Angels have 56 players on their camp roster, with those players split between Angel Stadium and Blair Field in Long Beach. All players were subject to coronavirus testing prior to the start of camp, and anyone who tests positive would be excluded from team activities until two consecutive negative tests. Teams are not revealing which players test positive. Maddon, however, said that there is only one physical injury among the 56 players, an oblique issue for Dillon Peters. That certainly leads an assumption that the rest of the absent players were absent because of the coronavirus, either a positive test, or symptoms, or exposure to someone else who had the virus. The players who worked out at Angel Stadium did so in two groups, allowing for more distancing. The position players who worked out at Angel Stadium included Trout, Anthony Rendon, Justin Upton, Andrelton Simmons, Albert Pujols, David Fletcher, Tommy La Stella, Brian Goodwin, Jason Castro and Max Stassi. Among the pitchers were Shohei Ohtani, Griffin Canning and Dylan Bundy. Any players who weren’t on the field at Angel Stadium could have been working out at Blair Field. This season figures to be one in which there will be constant checks to see which players remain healthy, even as teams say little about the coronavirus. In Trout’s case, it figures to be a daily concern at least until after the baby is born. Maddon said he’s discussed the issue with Trout. “We’ve already had some good conversations,” Maddon said. “We had another good one last night. First kid, becoming a father for the first time is very significant. To do it under these circumstances there are a lot of layers and a lot of concerns for the baby and his wife. He needs to stay well because he is going to be around them. There’s a lot to think about.” Adding to the complication of playing amid this pandemic is that each individual is responsible not just for himself, but for everyone else. “I think everybody has to be accountable,” Trout said. “Couple of the guys are obviously single and younger guys gotta get out of the house. But it takes a group effort. One guy could mess this up or not wear a mask and then bring it into the clubhouse.” The MLB health and safety regulations only cover the procedures at the ballpark. It leaves players to police each other when it comes to precautions away from the ballpark. Trout, for one, has some ideas about behavior on the road. “I don’t get why you can leave the hotel room on the road to go get dinner at a restaurant,” Trout said. “That’s just putting yourself at risk, I think. I’m strongly against that. It’s 30 games on the road. Just stay in your hotel room and just do as much as you can inside the hotel so you don’t get out and get the virus.” ALSO Maddon said the Angels will have workouts for the first five days and then begin playing intrasquad games on Wednesday. The team from Blair Field, mostly consisting of young players, will travel to Angel Stadium to play games. … Related Articles 5 questions as the Angels begin Summer Camp Hoornstra: A game of skill is embarking on a season of survival Angels Q&A: When will Jo Adell be in the big leagues? Angels to continue minor league stipends through at least July Baseball’s minor leagues officially cancel 2020 seasons One section of seats down the left field line was filled with cutouts of “fans.” It’s unclear what other changes the Angels will have to attempt to approximate a normal atmosphere when games begin, but Maddon said he’d be in favor of some type of crowd noise piped in. “You don’t want everyone to hear everything you are saying all the time,” Maddon said. … Ohtani threw a bullpen session on Friday. Maddon said he’s been impressed with how Ohtani looks physically. “The guys that have been around him more than I have are really impressed with where he’s at right now, what he looks like, physical shape,” Maddon said. View the full article
  19. The Angels and the other 29 teams are about to embark on a baseball season that will be about far more than baseball. On Friday, pitchers and catchers will hit the field at Angel Stadium and begin formal workouts for Summer Camp, the sport’s three-week training period to prepare for a season amid a pandemic. Unlike most seasons, in which the questions are about performance and avoiding injuries, this season all of those normal questions will also be beneath the overarching issue of whether the coronavirus will even allow them to make it to the end of the World Series. Or the end of the regular season. Or opening day. In advance of the opening of Summer Camp, a list of the five most pressing issues starts with the obvious: How many players will test positive? Every player and staff member who has direct access to the players – a group of about 180 people – will be tested for the coronavirus before camp begins. Angels general manager Billy Eppler said the team isn’t permitted to disclose who tests positive, because of privacy concerns. However, it’s going to be difficult to hide, from a practical standpoint. Players who test positive will not be participating, and their absence is certain to be noted. If Manager Joe Maddon or Eppler are unable to explain a player’s absence, that will be telling. Major League Baseball plans to periodically issue statistics on the number of positive tests, without identifying the individuals. No one is certain what number of positive tests MLB is willing to tolerate before suspending or cancelling the season. How will the players handle the restrictions? A team always relies on its members to be disciplined in order to succeed, but that will be taken to a much higher level this year. Not only do all the players need to do their work on the field and in the weight room, but they will need to be disciplined about the way they go about their lives to prevent the spread of the virus. Is everyone going to wear his mask in the clubhouse? Will they maintain social distance? Also, will they be disciplined about doing all of that when they are away from the ballpark? This applies not only to the players, but to all of the support staff who have access to the players. If one person from the group is careless, it could lead to an outbreak within the team. The document outlining the health and safety measures had no restrictions for behavior away from the ballpark, instead leaving it up to the players. The manual went so far as to suggest that each team produce its own written “code of conduct.” How are Shohei Ohtani and Griffin Canning? The Angels would love to have both pitchers in the rotation when the season begins, so they will be watched closely throughout camp. So far, both have thrown about 50 pitches to hitters, so they aren’t far from passing the final tests before pitching in the regular season. Ohtani isn’t really coming off an injury, since he completed his rehab from Tommy John surgery in December. The only reason he wasn’t pitching in spring training was because the Angels wanted to start him late to limit his innings. Canning had an elbow issue in the spring and received a platelet-rich plasma injection. What about development? Players like Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh were on the cusp of the majors in spring training, and over the past three-plus months they haven’t had any games to take those final steps in their development. In summer camp, they’ll get to work out and play in intrasquad games. Although intrasquad games don’t provide the same competition as a normal minor-league game, or even a major-league exhibition game, they do allow situations to be manipulated more. For example, the Angels could ensure that a hitter gets more at-bats against a certain type of pitcher. How will the bullpen look? Bullpen usage may be the element that is most different this season compared to a normal year. The starters will probably not be built up to their normal level out of the gate, leaving more innings for the relievers. Teams will also start with 30-man rosters, with relievers getting most of the extra spots. Any team that has two or three reliable multi-inning relievers who can work two or three innings as a bridge to the late-inning relievers could have a huge advantage. Felix Peña and Matt Andriese are the two pitchers who seem best suited for that role, but the Angels could also try some of their younger starters, like Jaime Barria, Jose Suarez or Patrick Sandoval. Related Articles Hoornstra: A game of skill is embarking on a season of survival Angels Q&A: When will Jo Adell be in the big leagues? Angels to continue minor league stipends through at least July Baseball’s minor leagues officially cancel 2020 seasons Whicker: Hockey folks show baseball purists that rule changes can be embraced View the full article
  20. At least we can’t accuse Major League Baseball of being hidebound to tradition. Not anymore. Three weeks from now, the 2020 season will begin with: A 60-game regular season schedule No fans in attendance, in some parks if not all A runner on second base to begin the 10th inning of tied games Designated hitters in both leagues “Unsportsmanlike conduct” penalties for arguing within six feet of an umpire Players with face coverings – optional on the field and in the dugout, mandatory in training rooms A prohibition on spitting Rules for the hotels – everything from room service protocol to air conditioning settings – where teams stay during road trips Minor leaguers who are available for call-up, but no minor league games For such a staid institution as MLB, these statutes equate to bending over backwards, performing a backflip, then a cartwheel, then a somersault, all in the name of imposing a lucrative pastime upon a continental hot zone. The rules are sweeping and draconian. They were also necessary for getting players back on the field – if not keeping them safe. Wednesday, one Major League Soccer team said six of its players tested positive for COVID-19 after reporting to their tournament bubble in Orlando. That carries at least two reminders for baseball. One, that an early draft of the 2020 season in which teams competed in separate Florida and Arizona “bubbles” was far from airtight. Two, that the novel coronavirus can infect one-fifth of a team’s roster without regard for its spitting protocol. It’s hard to imagine a less sensible location to play baseball right now than a major city in the United States. Some of these cities recorded a sudden surge in positive COVID-19 tests over the past week. Then again, it might not matter where the games are played. The best-laid schemes of owners and players often go awry. A deadly virus doesn’t care if a three-batter minimum rule for relief pitchers was a hot topic six months ago. Should we consider a .400 batting average in a 60-game season legitimate? Should we attach an asterisk to the World Series champion in the official record books? We should be so lucky if these concerns are front and center on Nov. 1. For now, there are bigger questions at hand. How legitimate is the season if one team loses its entire starting lineup to the coronavirus? What if it can’t field 25 players, the minimum required by MLB’s 2020 operations manual? The manual consists of 33,286 words, but it does not include a Disaster Plan specific to the coronavirus. That ostensibly leaves the league’s previously established Disaster Plan in place. This plan specifically outlines the protocol for an “epidemic illness” that causes “the death, dismemberment or permanent injury from playing professional baseball” of at least five players after Opening Day. It authorizes commissioner Rob Manfred to pause or cancel a team’s season after consulting with the MLB Players Association. It also authorizes a “Rule 29 draft” in which an affected team can restock its roster by selecting up to five players from another team’s roster. The idea of a Disaster Plan usually conjures nightmares of an unforeseen event, like a plane crash or a bus accident. The potential for a COVID-19 outbreak weakening a man’s lungs for three months is entirely foreseeable – on a team-wide scale, let alone among five players. The terms of the plan have never been more important. But just because the commissioner can hold a dispersal draft in the middle of August doesn’t mean he should. What if the Dodgers and Angels have to surrender five players each to another team, simply because they avoided the virus and the other team did not? In the midst of such an abbreviated season, does that seem fair? Baseball history isn’t the best lens for answering these questions. Think of it more like a typical NFL season. The potential for a player to miss the full season is so high, it becomes a game of Next Man Up (to borrow the title of John Feinstein’s book about the 2004 Baltimore Ravens). It’s no surprise that four players – Ian Desmond, Joe Ross, Ryan Zimmerman and Mike Leake – voluntarily opted out of the season prior to Wednesday, the league-wide “summer camp” report date. For some, the cost of playing will outweigh the benefit. When the players opted out, the process of crowning a champion began. Baseball is a game of skill, but this season will be one of survival – one the players effectively agreed to when they gave Manfred the right to impose a season of any length. In a national radio interview Wednesday, Manfred said “we weren’t going to play more than 60 games no matter how the negotiations with the players went.” Whether that’s because of economic concerns or health concerns is a moot point now. It’s game on. We’ll see 60 more games than any minor-league team will play in 2020. We’ll see 60 more here than in Mexico; the 16-team Mexican Baseball League put safety first Wednesday and canceled a season that was scheduled to begin Aug. 7. And that might be a good thing. We can dream about the sight of Mookie Betts in a Dodgers uniform, and Shohei Ohtani on the mound for the Angels, when the time comes. For now, CDC recommendations and public-gathering restrictions are changing by the week. It still feels too soon. A 60-game season will feel short. The empty ballparks will look weird. You might even miss the sight of players spitting and managers arguing with umpires. But don’t miss the forest for the trees. If a World Series champion is crowned in 2020, it will mean baseball either managed to keep a virus at bay, or tolerated more risk to human livelihood than it should have. There won’t be much middle ground. That’s too much to contain in a single asterisk. View the full article
  21. Angels pitchers and catchers are reporting for summer camp on Wednesday, with a couple days of physicals and tests, including for COVID-19, before they get back on the field to prepare for the 60-game season. While we’re waiting to see the Angels on the field, we took some questions from readers. How much playing time do you expect Jo Adell to get? — @CryinHawyard General Manager Billy Eppler said this week that he is “hopeful” that Adell will show he’s ready for big league playing time sometime during this shortened season. He’ll have about three weeks of summer camp to show if he’s ironed out the issues that showed in spring training, and if he isn’t on the roster by Opening Day, he’ll continue to get at-bats against Angels pitchers with big league experience while working out with the team’s reserve squad at Long Beach State. If I were to guess, I’d say he’d be in the big leagues sometime in August, although it could be sooner or later, depending on a variety of factors, like injuries and Brian Goodwin’s performance. One other thing to note: going by the current rules, if Adell is down for at least six days, the Angels would get an extra year before he’s eligible for free agency. However, the current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2021 season, and it’s likely the rules will be different, so what we know now may not be applicable. What’s Shohei Ohtani’s pitching/hitting schedule going to be? — @thecarwash_ Joe Maddon said they have no immediate plans for pushing him beyond the way he has been used as a two-way player in the big leagues before. In 2018, he pitched once a week and was the DH in between, with the day off before and after he pitched. Over the 60-game season, that could mean up to 10 starts and maybe 150 to 160 plate appearances. Will the Angels trade to get pitching or is that not a priority ? – @o_ghaloshead The Angels have four empty spots in their 60-player pool just in case they have the opportunity to acquire anyone. That being said, it seems unlikely that any quality pitching would be available right now, because the season hasn’t even started. The trading deadline is Aug. 31 this year, and it will be interesting to see what kind of deals teams are making at that time. Are you and other reporters allowed in the stadium to do interviews or just report? — @MarkDesigns3 A limited number of reporters will be allowed into the ballparks this season, but the only access to the manager, coaches or players will be by teleconferences. Major League Baseball is restricting the people who can have direct access to players in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Is there any chance this 60 game sprint leads to an appreciation of a shorter regular season? — @Angels_Zags This year the players wanted more games and the owners wanted less, which is because the agreement they reached in March called for players to be paid on a pro-rated basis. The more games, the more they would be paid. In a normal year, however, I think the owners want as many games as possible — to sell more tickets — and the players would probably prefer a few more days off. The bottom line, though, is I would not expect any reduction of the normal 162 games once the pandemic is over. That being said, a 60-game sprint could be pretty entertaining this year. Will Halos give Simba a new contract? Trade (David) Fletcher and (Brandon) Marsh for P and Let (Luis) Rengifo play! — @sportsguy06 With just 60 games in the season, it seems pretty unlikely that the Angels and Andrelton Simmons would be able to agree on a new deal before Simmons hits free agency. They still could re-sign him over the winter, though. As for your trade scenarios, the Angels were definitely open to trading from their surpluses to add pitching, but they didn’t find a deal to their liking. Now, they don’t have quite the same surpluses until they know what they are going to do with Simmons for 2021. How many wins do you think it takes to win the division? 40? — @MEvans2511 Last year the Astros had a 60-game stretch in which they went 43-17. The Oakland A’s also had a 41-19 stretch. Those were the optimal performances for two of the five teams, and the other three teams probably don’t have that kind of baseball in them for 60 games. Also, the Astros may not be able to play to that level without Gerrit Cole. Plus, it’s tough to assume any team’s optimal 60-game stretch will come in a 60-game season. Given all that, I’ll say the division winner ends up with about 37 victories this season. Is Arte going to keep or fire Eppler? — Mike Back in spring training, Arte Moreno was asked about what had to happen for Eppler to get an extension, and he said winning was the most important thing for everyone in the organization. Well, the Angels are still 0-0, so you’d have to say the jury is still out on whether Eppler will be back next year. Related Articles Baseball’s minor leagues officially cancel 2020 seasons Whicker: Hockey folks show baseball purists that rule changes can be embraced Angels GM Billy Eppler preparing players for non-traditional camp A year since Tyler Skaggs’ death, family’s pain remains fresh Angels’ top prospects invited to summer camp, with newly signed draft pick Reid Detmers on the way View the full article
  22. The Angels will continue paying their minor leaguers $400 a week through at least July, a source confirmed on Wednesday. The minor league season has officially been canceled, leaving all minor leaguers outside the clubs’ 60-man player pools for major league availability to work out on their own. All teams committed to paying the minor leaguers $400 a week — which is in many cases more than their normal salaries would have been — through May, and then it was up to each team individually to determine what to do for the rest of the season. All 30 teams continued the payments in June, and so far 29 of the 30 have committed to make the payments for July. Only the Arizona Diamondbacks have yet to make a statement on the July payments. General manager Billy Eppler said on Tuesday that there is some hope that a fall instructional league of sorts will be created to help minor leaguers replace the lost development time. Related Articles Baseball’s minor leagues officially cancel 2020 seasons Whicker: Hockey folks show baseball purists that rule changes can be embraced Angels GM Billy Eppler preparing players for non-traditional camp A year since Tyler Skaggs’ death, family’s pain remains fresh Angels’ top prospects invited to summer camp, with newly signed draft pick Reid Detmers on the way View the full article
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  25. ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Baseball’s minor leagues canceled their seasons on Tuesday after Major League Baseball decided not to provide any players to its affiliated teams amid the coronavirus pandemic. The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league governing body, made the long-expected announcement. The Professional Baseball Agreement between the majors and the minors expires after this season, and MLB has proposed reducing the minimum affiliates from 160 to 120. MLB already had told clubs to retain expanded 60-player pools, of which 30 players can be active during the first two weeks of the season starting in late July. “These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we’ve had a summer without minor league baseball played,” National Association president Pat O’Conner. “While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.” Related Articles Minor league baseball teams look for ways to survive the pandemic, help their communities View the full article