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Notes: Maddon welcomes alumni; Ohtani's plan

@RhettBollinger
February 19, 2020

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels manager Joe Maddon’s ties with the organization go all the way back to his time as a Minor Leaguer in 1976, so he understands the legacy of the franchise and the importance of bringing former players back to connect with current players and coaches. Maddon, who

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels manager Joe Maddon’s ties with the organization go all the way back to his time as a Minor Leaguer in 1976, so he understands the legacy of the franchise and the importance of bringing former players back to connect with current players and coaches.

Maddon, who became a scout with the Angels in 1979 and began his managing career in the Minors with the organization in 1981, has made it a point to have alumni in camp this spring, as 2002 World Series MVP Award winner Troy Glaus already stopped by with his son’s travel team and former lefty Frank Tanana is scheduled to arrive at camp as a special instructor on Thursday.

Others who are scheduled to be in Spring Training with the Angels include Vladimir Guerrero, Wally Joyner, Orlando Cabrera, Maicer Izturis, Bobby Grich, JT Snow, Clyde Wright, Jim Abbott, Chuck Finley and broadcaster Mark Langston. Of that group, Tanana (Feb. 19-22), Snow (Feb. 21-22), Joyner (Feb. 24-27), Grich (Feb. 28-29), Cabrera (March 7-11), Wright (March 8-11), Izturis (March 8-14) and Guerrero (March 8-14) are confirmed as special instructors. Maddon is also working on getting former hitting coach Mickey Hatcher in camp, as well as Garret Anderson and Brendan Donnelly. Those who were asked but couldn’t attend include Tim Salmon, Jarrod Washburn and Darin Erstad.

“When they come in I want them to be introduced [to the players],” Maddon said. “So I would believe by setting it up properly, it might open the potential for communication. And even one nugget would be great if the alumni could throw one nugget to somebody that may stick and that's what I'm looking for. And then to build the relationship there.”

Tanana, 66, pitched for the Angels for eight seasons from 1973-1980 and he was a three-time All-Star with the club while finishing in the Top 4 in the balloting for AL Cy Young twice. He went on to pitch in the big leagues for 21 seasons before retiring after the 1993 season. Tanana threw hard early in his career, but he adapted to become one of the better finesse pitchers in the game with his curveball.

“I want for Frankie to walk around and watch the pitchers when they throw,” Maddon said. “I think there's more in the alumni. I think when you reintroduce your tradition and your former players to the group, and get them all on the same page, I think that absolutely helps.”

Angels agree to sign Ramírez
The Angels agreed to sign right-hander JC Ramírez to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training, but Ramírez must first pass a physical for it to become official. Ramírez made his comeback from Tommy John surgery late last season, allowing four runs in eight innings while seeing his velocity decrease by roughly 4 mph. But if Ramírez can regain some velocity, the 31-year-old could add depth as a starter or a reliever. Over parts of the last four seasons, Ramirez has a 4.06 ERA in 208 1/3 innings with the Angels.

Maddon introduces hitting drill
When Maddon was a scout in the 1980s, he devised a hitting drill where he’d set up the pitching machine lower to the ground and closer to home plate to help hitters react quicker and shorten their swings, forcing them to use their hands more.

Maddon brought it to camp and said he’s already seen some results. Luis Rengifo worked on the drill with Albert Pujols and began to get the hang of it after about three rounds of practice.

"You add velocity at a shorter distance to create shorter movements from the hitters perspective," Maddon said. "I'm still waiting on some of the equipment to arrive. Smaller baseballs, heavy bats."

Angels tidbits
• Third baseman Anthony Rendon will leave camp for a few days this week to attend the birth of his second child with his wife, Amanda.

• Two-way star Shohei Ohtani said he incorporated swimming and playing some basketball into his offseason regimen. Ohtani, though, joked that he’s not very good at basketball and he was mostly just shooting hoops. Ohtani has been taking batting practice this week, but he is tracking pitches and not swinging. He’s nearing his first bullpen session of the spring, but he won’t pitch until mid-May.

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.