The Angels held their first official full-squad workouts on Monday in Tempe, Ariz., and manager Joe Maddon said he’s stressing fundamentals this spring.
With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the Angels had their annual teamwide meeting on Sunday night, but they did it via Zoom instead of in-person. Maddon led the meeting in English before catching coach José Molina held one in Spanish so that nothing would get lost in translation.
"There's so many restrictions out there right now and I didn't want anybody to be uncomfortable," Maddon said. "We're used to this platform. They're all in a room somewhere and we have everyone's full attention. I think it makes for a more lasting message being delivered under these circumstances. And José did a wonderful job recapping it in Spanish.”
Maddon said the key theme was preaching fundamentals and full attention to details. He doesn’t want his players to get away from that after last year’s shortened season and believes it’s the only way the club can get back on track.
"It’s the relentless execution of fundamentals,” Maddon said. “You're gonna hear that all year. It's a phrase I got from coach Tom Moore, a football coach who was with the Bucs this year and was on the sidelines with Peyton Manning for years and the Steelers before that. We've become good friends, and he told me the NFL is pretty much about the ubiquitous execution of fundamentals. We get away from that."
Maddon said he'll be looking for specific things during drills and used relays as an example, as he wants his players in the right places and throwing to the correct bases. He also wants his players to know how to properly bunt and defend the bunt despite it not being as popular in today's game. He had his position players work on bunting on Monday, and they’ll progress to live batting practice against Angels pitchers on Tuesday.
"When the team is not functioning properly, it's not complicated,” Maddon said. “I think in general we look for complicated answers or solutions to everything, where simplicity only works better. It's really about fundamentals and that was a big part of my conversation with the team."
• All of the club’s position players reported to camp on time and without any issues. There was some concern that third baseman Anthony Rendon could be late because of the winter storm that hit the Houston area where he lives, but he arrived on time. Pitchers Junior Guerra, José Quijada and Jose Alberto Rivera had visa issues and haven't arrived at camp yet, although Rivera has arrived in the United States and has to go through the COVID-19 intake process before he’s cleared to join Angels camp.
• Interim pitching coach Matt Wise is feeling good despite testing positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, which has allowed him to participate in Zoom videos with the coaches and players. But Wise is still away from the team and must clear COVID-19 protocols before returning to camp. Maddon said he didn’t have an exact timeline for when Wise will be back.
• Angels superstar center fielder Mike Trout said he talks to MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark on a daily basis. Clark has been getting feedback from players with the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) set to expire on Dec. 1. Trout didn’t elaborate on the discussions he’s had with Clark but said he’s hopeful MLB and the union come to an agreement. “Major League Baseball is a great thing for our country, especially now during this pandemic," Trout said, "and we need to go forward."