Angels manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday he plans to utilize right-hander Hansel Robles as the club’s one-inning closer in the ninth and doesn’t see him going multiple innings early in the season.
Robles fared well in the closer role last season, posting a 2.48 ERA to go along with 23 saves and 75 strikeouts in 72 2/3 innings. Robles went longer than one inning nine times last year and eight of those outings were scoreless, combining for a 1.26 ERA in those situations. But Maddon said he believes he has enough arms he can turn to before getting to Robles in the ninth.
“I think we’re going to wait until the ninth inning,” Maddon said. “I don't want to have him go 1 1/3 or 1 2/3 until we get later. I think we have a lot of qualified candidates to play in front of him that I like that we could match up to get to him. I think you'll get the best performance out of him in those circumstances.”
Robles threw a scoreless inning in Monday’s exhibition game against the Padres, but his fastball velocity was a bit down compared to last year. His four-seam fastball averaged 94 mph on Tuesday night, while it averaged 97.2 mph last year. Maddon, though, said he’s not worried with the velocity just yet.
“He felt really good,” Maddon said. “I don't really worry about that. I didn't ask him about it. It looked to me like he was trying different things, and I will ask him. But then again, it could get in his head. I think he's well, I think he's fine. I just think that was his method yesterday."
Heaney on track for Opening Day
Left-hander Andrew Heaney, who was held out of Saturday’s intrasquad game with back stiffness, threw his bullpen session without any issues on Tuesday. The Angels will make sure Heaney feels fine again on Wednesday, but he appears healthy enough to make his first career Opening Day start against the A’s on Friday in Oakland.
Rendon, Rengifo updates
Third baseman Anthony Rendon wasn’t in the lineup against the Dodgers on Tuesday, as he’s still dealing with oblique soreness, though he did make the trip to Dodger Stadium. Maddon said he doesn’t have an update on when Rendon will be ready to return or if he’ll be ready for Opening Day on Friday. If Rendon isn’t ready, Maddon said he’ll use different options at third base based on matchups, with David Fletcher and Matt Thaiss expected to see action there.
Infielder Luis Rengifo is also dealing with hamstring soreness, and there’s a strong chance he might not be ready for the regular-season opener. Rengifo was expected to make the club as a backup infielder.
• The Angels are still deciding on how they’ll handle the workouts at the club’s alternate site at Long Beach State’s Blair Field once the regular season begins. But Maddon said he expects them to play intrasquad games three days a week, practice three days a week and get a day of rest. They’re also still deciding when they’ll host day workouts versus night workouts, and Maddon said he’d like for the players in Long Beach to be able to watch the Angels play on television as well.
• The Angels haven’t had any new arrivals in camp, Maddon said. The club is still waiting on a few players to make their first arrival to camp, including left-handers José Suarez, José Quijada and Dillon Peters. Right-hander Parker Markel is also not in camp after being placed on the 10-day injured list on July 14. Of that group, only Peters has a known injury, an oblique strain.
• Right-hander Julio Teheran, who was a late arrival to camp after contracting COVID-19 in late June, is scheduled to throw his second bullpen session in front of pitching coach Mickey Callaway on Wednesday. Teheran maintains he’s about a week behind the other starters and isn’t expected to be on the Opening Day roster.