Eppler: Players staying in shape during delay

March 24th, 2020

ANAHEIM -- Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Tuesday that the Angels are not holding workouts at Angel Stadium or at their Spring Training facility in Tempe, Ariz., but that players are doing their best to stay in shape on their own in anticipation of the start of the 2020 season suspended due to the coronavirus.

Eppler didn’t give any guesses on when the season will start or how long players would need to get ready for the season, but said he’s been in contact with players and he believes they’ll be ready to play whenever Major League Baseball deems it fit.

“I get a pretty good feel from these guys,” Eppler said in a conference call. “They clearly want to be out playing. They want to live that dream, but they’re also very mindful about what’s going on in the world. A lot of the guys have families, so they have that house to keep in order as well. But I’ve seen some clips and videos from some of the guys and they’re getting creative in ways to stay in shape and get those competitive juices flowing. I’m not at a point where I’m worried about it. They are resilient and adaptable.”

Eppler also said that his staff checks in with players and coaches to see how they are doing and that no players have had any symptoms related to COVID-19. NBA legend Charles Barkley, who visited Angels camp on March 2, tested negative for the virus, he announced on Monday.

Eppler said the health of the players is the organization’s top priority and that they are complying with the guidelines laid out by the government, which is why player workouts are banned. Angel Stadium is only available for players to receive treatment for injuries and only Shohei Ohtani and Griffin Canning are currently rehabbing there.

Ohtani, who is aiming for a return to the mound in mid-May after undergoing both Tommy John surgery and left knee surgery, has been throwing on flat ground as part of his rehab. And Canning, who received an injection in his right elbow in early March, is scheduled to resume throwing next week. Otherwise, pitchers have been throwing on their own.

“Nobody is working out in groups or anything,” Eppler said. “The pitchers are keeping their arms activated. A few guys have been getting off the mound, doing up-downs. Dylan Bundy is one of them. We are really limited with what we can do, but the health and safety of everyone in the Angels organization is paramount.”

Buchter added to roster, Cole DFA’d
The Angels added veteran left-hander Ryan Buchter to their 40-man roster and designated reliever Taylor Cole for assignment. Buchter had a solid spring, throwing five scoreless innings with five strikeouts, while also showing good velocity. The 33-year-old has a career 2.86 ERA, including a 2.98 ERA in 45 1/3 innings with Oakland last year. Teams are still making roster moves because contracts for non-roster players such as Buchter often have opt-out dates.

Cole, 30, posted a 5.92 ERA with 50 strikeouts, 24 walks and two homers allowed in 51 2/3 innings last year. He memorably served as the opener in the combined no-hitter with Félix Peña on July 13 in the club's first home game since the death of Tyler Skaggs.

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster and 26-man roster. Within seven days of the transaction, the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.