Quintana returns, Sandoval sticks as starter

Rookie Rodriguez sent to Double-A to build up for rotation

June 23rd, 2021

ANAHEIM -- José Quintana was activated from the 10-day injured list but will join the bullpen, allowing fellow lefty Patrick Sandoval to remain in the rotation, Angels manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday. Additionally, rookie right-hander Chris Rodriguez was optioned to Double-A Rocket City so he can build up innings as a starting pitcher. 

Quintana had been out since May 30 with left shoulder inflammation and has posted a 7.22 ERA with 50 strikeouts, 26 walks and five homers allowed in 33 2/3 innings this year. But with Sandoval pitching so well since joining the rotation -- he has a 3.13 ERA in six starts -- the Angels decided to move Quintana to the bullpen, where he’s expected to pitch in a multi-inning role.

“We just felt it was not wise to take Sandoval out of the rotation,” Maddon said. “We spoke with 'Q' a couple days ago; total team guy, totally gets it. He'll do whatever it takes. And he knows we can put him back in the rotation at some point. He still views himself as a starter. But he's not upset, at all. He's as wonderful as you think he is as a team player." 

Rodriguez, meanwhile, has been electric as a rookie reliever this year, posting a 3.66 ERA with 20 strikeouts and 11 walks in 19 2/3 innings. But he hasn't looked quite the same with a 9.00 ERA in five appearances since missing a month with right shoulder inflammation. 

Maddon said that Rodriguez's struggles played a role in the decision to send him down, but it was something they had been thinking about doing for a while to get him on a regular schedule and possibly get him ready to start in the Majors later in the season.

"We want him to get down there and really get his feet wet as a starter," Maddon said. "I can't deny the dropping off has something to do with it, but it's more difficult to keep him on any kind of schedule here [as he] learns how to pitch. He really doesn't have that much experience. We felt this is the best way to get out there and learn his craft, get him pitching on a regular basis. And when he gets back to us, he could be a reliever. He doesn't need to be a starter. It'll be based on need at that time."

Maddon also explained that Rodriguez was sent to Double-A instead of Triple-A Salt Lake because of the high altitude there and the high-run scoring environment in Triple-A West.

"Theoretically, you would think pitching there's a little bit more amenable as opposed to Salt Lake City with the elements," Maddon said. "The ball flies [in Salt Lake City], quite frankly. We just thought this was the wiser way to do it."