Heaney improving ahead of Opening Day

July 19th, 2020

ANAHEIM -- Left-hander  said Sunday that he feels fine after experiencing some back stiffness on Saturday and he is on track to start on Opening Day against the A’s on Friday in Oakland. The Angels, though, had right-hander  pitch in Sunday’s intrasquad game at Angel Stadium instead of Monday’s exhibition game in San Diego as a Plan B, in case Heaney isn’t ready to go.

Heaney was scheduled to throw six innings in Saturday’s intrasquad game, but he woke up with back stiffness and decided it would be best not to throw in the game and get in a regular workout instead. Heaney will throw a bullpen session early in the week to get ready for his first career Opening Day start.

“I just felt like, as quick as our build-up was gonna be in this Spring Training 2.0, and then with the season being as short as it is, it was just smart to be cautious,” Heaney said. “I feel ready after 85 pitches my last time out. Felt good with all of my stuff. I’m ready to go. I feel fine.”

Heaney said he’s not sure how many pitches he’ll be allowed to throw in the opener, but that he feels fully stretched out despite not pitching in Saturday’s intrasquad contest.

“Ultimately, it’s not my decision, but I threw 85 pitches in the last one and felt great -- [I] feel like I’m built up to 85, done some things in here to simulate game intensity,” Heaney said. “I feel good. Just one of those things where you wake up with a stiff back and didn’t want to press it. Need to be good to go for these 60-plus games.”

Angels manager Joe Maddon also has a high degree of confidence that Heaney will start Friday, but the skipper moved Bundy up by a day just in case. Right-hander Griffin Canning will start Monday against the Padres, while Tuesday’s starter against the Dodgers has yet to be announced. Maddon added that he appreciated Heaney’s honesty on Saturday.

“I've gained a large appreciation for this young man already,” Maddon said. “He just looks you right in the eyeball and he tells you straight up what he's thinking. It was not him attempting to persuade. This is exactly what he felt like and felt very strongly about it. So we listened and I believe he will be fine.”

Rendon feeling fine
Third baseman Anthony Rendon was held out of action again on Sunday after sustaining oblique tightness on a swing on Wednesday. There’s still no timetable for his return to intrasquad action, though Rendon said he feels fine and told Maddon he believes he’ll be ready for the regular-season opener on Friday.

“I haven't heard from the trainers when they'll let him go,” Maddon said. “But Anthony feels confident he'll be able to play the first game.”

Angels tidbits
• The Angels will take a bus down to San Diego for Monday’s exhibition game and players will be required to wear masks. The club will also not use the clubhouse facilities, as Maddon described it as a “towel change,” with players arriving to the park essentially already in uniform. The Angels will also leave for Anaheim after the game and will not stay in San Diego.

• After having some trouble defensively in right field this week, top prospect Jo Adell was out for early work at Angel Stadium on Sunday. Maddon said he’s not concerned with Adell’s defense, but he has to get used to how the ball plays down in the right-field corner at Angel Stadium.

• Left-hander Patrick Sandoval, who was a late arrival to camp after testing positive for COVID-19 last month, has been making good progress, Maddon said. Sandoval is not expected to be on the Opening Day roster, but he will continue to build up his pitch count and gives the Angels much-needed rotation depth.