Rengifo ready, healthy after biceps surgery

February 19th, 2024

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Although he doesn’t have a set position, infielder remains one of the Angels' most important players this year because of his versatility and the production he’s shown in the second half of the last two seasons.

Rengifo arrived at Angels camp on report date on Sunday and said he’s fully healthy after tearing his left biceps tendon in a freak injury while in the on-deck circle on Sept. 7. He underwent surgery but said he was able to start baseball activities before January, so he was able to have a normal offseason.

“I feel really good,” Rengifo said. “It took me about two and half months but I was able to start my full workouts in late December. I’m coming into spring to get ready for everything.”

Rengifo, 26, figures to see action at second base, shortstop, third base and even some outfield this season as the club’s top utility man. Brandon Drury also can play multiple positions and is expected to share time at second with Rengifo, while also being an option at designated hitter.

Rengifo said he’s comfortable at any position that helps the team and is excited to work with new manager Ron Washington, who is an expert at teaching infield defense.

“I like what he does and the drills he has,” Rengifo said. “I want to hear what he has to say. It’s important work.”

Washington said he was excited to finally meet Rengifo on Sunday and joked that he teased Rengifo for being the last position player to show up to camp, as the club had several early arrivals this year. The Angels are only missing reliever José Cisnero and infielder Miguel Sanó due to visa issues, but they’re expected to arrive late next week.

“I know he’s got game and is a gamer,” Washington said of Rengifo. “He’s got versatility and can be a difference-maker. So it was nice to him. I joshed him a little bit about [being] the last one to show up. But he looks good.”

Rengifo said his goal this season is to get off to a better start, as he's been a much better player in the second half in each of the last two seasons. He hit .318/.374/.587 with 11 homers, nine doubles and 29 RBIs in 50 games after the All-Star break last year compared to batting .219/.312/.326 with five homers, six doubles and 22 RBIs in 76 games before it. It was similar to 2022, when he had a .694 OPS in 58 games before the break and a .745 OPS in 69 games after it.

“Last year, I kind of got off to a late start so I’ve talked to the hitting coaches about trying to bring that earlier in the season,” Rengifo said. “I just want to play every day and be consistent and stay focused. I just want to help the team win a lot of games.”

Trout arrives at Angels camp

Rengifo wasn’t the only Angels position player to report to the club’s Spring Training complex on Sunday, as superstar arrived at his locker and underwent his annual physical. Trout has his normal locker and is next to Aaron Hicks this spring.

Trout, a three-time AL MVP and 11-time All-Star, will begin his first full workouts with the rest of the club on Monday. He’s also expected to address the media.

Angels tidbits

• Infielder is back in the organization, as the Angels claimed him on waivers from the Orioles on Sunday. He was designated for assignment by the Angels on Feb. 3, when they signed Cisnero, and was claimed by Baltimore. But he was DFA’d again on Sunday and the Angels opted to claim him to add to their infield depth. Soto, 23, can handle shortstop and has hit .375 in 22 Major League games over the last two seasons.

• The Angels moved left-hander to the 60-day injured list to make room for Soto on the 40-man roster. But it’s not a setback for Quijada, who underwent Tommy John surgery last May. Quijada isn’t expected to return until midseason, so it doesn’t affect his timeline.

• Washington said he plans to address the club with a speech before Monday’s full-squad workout. He said he will preach unity because it’s important for the club to come together.

“We are in the process of trying to get the Los Angeles Angels an identity," Washington said. "I've got a group that's going to hold these guys accountable, making certain that the details are taken care of."