Notes: Stassi on mend following hip surgery

Quintana sharp against Rox; Adell goes deep

March 6th, 2021

Angels catcher , who underwent left hip surgery after the 2020 season, is on track to make his Cactus League catching debut early next week, manager Joe Maddon said Saturday.

Stassi, 29, is coming off a breakout shortened season, batting .278/.352/.533 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in 31 games. But he underwent a hip operation for a second straight year, as he had the same procedure done to his right hip after the 2019 season. He explained it was genetic condition in both hips similar to bone spurs, which caused him to need at least 30 minutes to warm up before he could get into squatting position.

“It’s night and day better,” Stassi said via Zoom on Saturday. “I’ve got so much more range of motion there. It feels good to get into the squat. I feel as good as I have in a long time.”

With veteran Kurt Suzuki slated to be his backup, Stassi heads into the season as the club’s primary catcher. It’s a new role for Stassi, who was a backup for seven seasons with the Astros before being traded to the Angels at the Trade Deadline in '19. Stassi struggled in his first stint with the Halos, going 3-for-42 at the plate in '19, but he made changes to his swing that led to his much-improved '20 season.

“I’ve had a lot of roles in this game -- the backup, the third catcher, the prospect, the suspect,” Stassi said. “I’m just approaching it like every other spring. I still have a chip on my shoulder, regardless of my role.”

Maddon watched Stassi catch a bullpen session on Friday -- the catcher also served as DH and went 0-for-2 in a win over the A's. He’s nearing game action behind the plate and Maddon is excited to write his name in the lineup this spring.

“He’s fine,” Maddon said. “It's just one of those things you're waiting for total clearance and you're trying to be as mindful and careful as you can, but he's fine.”

Quintana excels against Rockies
Lefty José Quintana was solid against the Rockies, throwing two hitless innings with four strikeouts. Quintana walked Sam Hilliard in the second, but otherwise, his command with all his pitches was very good. It was the second appearance of the spring for Quintana, who also threw a scoreless inning against the Giants on Sunday.

“Throwing the first pitch for a strike was the biggest thing for me today," Quintana said. “I felt pretty alive with my fastball. Changed speeds really good. I’ll keep working on my changeup, threw a couple good ones. I feel really good. My confidence is getting up."

Adell makes his first hit count
Jo Adell connected on his first hit of the spring and it was a towering two-run blast that cleared the berm beyond the left-field fence to give the Angels a 2-0 lead in the second inning. The homer off right-hander Dereck Rodríguez was a good sign from the former top prospect, who is coming off a tough rookie year and is expected to open the season in the Minor Leagues.

"They've been working on a couple of things," Maddon said of Adell and the hitting coaches. "I thought he was a lot quieter at the plate, and I just liked the overall approach better."

Angels tidbits
• Right-hander Gerardo Reyes was outrighted, bringing the club's total to 39 players on the 40-man roster. Reyes suffered a right ulnar collateral ligament sprain in his first appearance on Sunday and is still exploring his options, which includes Tommy John surgery.

• Maddon was impressed by the catching skills of Taylor Ward, who saw some time behind the plate on Friday. Ward was drafted as a catcher in 2015, but was then moved to third base and later the outfield. Maddon, though, wants Ward to improve his versatility, which is why he’s been catching again this spring. Ward is expected to serve more as an emergency catcher than as a regular behind the plate.

• Third baseman Anthony Rendon was back in the lineup on Saturday and went 0-for-2 in the Angels' 8-2 loss. He’s played in just two games so far this spring due to general soreness, but Maddon said Rendon isn’t injured and is feeling better.

• Maddon wore a shirt supporting the Escanaba High School (Mich.) softball team in his pregame Zoom with reporters. The softball team uses Maddon’s slogan, “Do simple better,” as their mantra and won consecutive state titles in 2018 and ‘19.