Notes: Iglesias to be used in one-inning role; Ohtani faces Syndergaard

Veteran infielder Duffy arrives at camp, participates in workouts

March 17th, 2022

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels closer Raisel Iglesias has proved to be one of the better multi-inning relievers in baseball over his seven-year career, but manager Joe Maddon said Thursday they plan to keep him in a one-inning role this season.

Iglesias, who signed a four-year deal worth $58 million on Dec. 1, pitched more than an inning 15 times last year, although the Angels limited his usage down the stretch in an effort to keep him healthy heading into free agency. Maddon said the club’s improved relief depth allows them to use Iglesias in one-inning stints this year.

“We’re going to try to refrain from [using him more than] that until we get to the playoffs,” Maddon said. “We’re trying to get more utility out of him and plus I think we’re better. Last year, when we used him more often, we were kind of thin in the bullpen toward the latter part of the game. But all of a sudden, guys started surfacing from the Minor Leagues who came up and did better.”

Iglesias, 32, is regarded as one of the best closers in baseball and is coming off a strong season with the Angels that saw him record 34 saves and post a 2.57 ERA with 103 strikeouts and 12 walks in 70 innings. He wasn't an All-Star, but Iglesias finished 11th in the balloting for the AL Cy Young Award.

Iglesias said he had about 20 teams interested in him after the season, and once the Angels started negotiating, he estimated eight or nine clubs still had interest. But ultimately Iglesias said he always wanted to come back to the Angels and was pleased they were able to come to a deal.

“I always told my agent that the Angels had the first priority,” Iglesias said through an interpreter. “There’s a lot of chemistry with this team. I feel good and I’m here to take the next step and help the team win.”

Iglesias, who signed his deal shortly before the lockout began, said he spent his offseason in Miami and was able to have his normal training routine. He also said he doesn’t plan to change much this year, given his success last year and throughout his career.

“I haven’t changed anything with my stuff,” Iglesias said. “My mentality is still the same. My goal is to have 40 saves every year.”

Ohtani faces Syndergaard, to start on mound on Monday
Two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani faced right-hander Noah Syndergaard in live BP on Thursday, but mostly tracked pitches, as he only swung four times during his two rounds against Syndergaard. This came after Ohtani threw a bullpen session on Tuesday and threw a live BP on Wednesday.

Ohtani is scheduled to make his first start of the spring on the mound on Monday, but Maddon said it might not come in their Cactus League game against the Royals. Ohtani could pitch in a Minor League game instead so they can easier control his pitch count and roll over innings, if necessary. The goal is to have Ohtani up to 75 pitches and five innings before the end of Spring Training.

Duffy arrives at camp
Veteran infielder Matt Duffy, who signed a one-year deal worth $1.5 million on Wednesday, arrived at camp on Thursday and participated in workouts. Duffy, a Long Beach native who also attended Long Beach State, said he signed with the Angels because he believes he has the chance to compete for a starting job and is also closer to home.

Duffy said he feels most comfortable at third base but also saw time at second base, shortstop, first base and left field last year with the Cubs. Maddon wouldn’t rule out Duffy being a starter at second base and David Fletcher moving over to shortstop. But nothing has been decided and the Angels have other middle infielders in the mix such as Luis Rengifo, Andrew Velazquez, Tyler Wade and Jack Mayfield.

“I enjoy being on quality teams, and with the people in this clubhouse that’s certainly a possibility,” Duffy said. “Also it’s a chance to play at home in front of family and friends, [which] is tough to pass up as well.”