How will Washington manage Halos' crowded outfield?

March 20th, 2024

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Even with five outfielders expected to be on the Opening Day roster, Angels manager Ron Washington said he’ll find ways to get enough playing time for each of them.

Superstar remains the club’s regular center fielder and is expected to get everyday playing time in left field, while , and will share time in right field and serve as backups to Trout and Ward. Hicks has been the club’s hottest hitter this spring, batting .371 with a .511 on-base percentage in 15 games, while Moniak is also having a solid spring, hitting .308 with a homer, three doubles and three RBIs in 18 games. Adell has shown his power with a homer, a triple and three doubles, but he's hitting .225 with 15 strikeouts in 42 plate appearances.

“It's not gonna be hard because whatever lineup I put out, it's gonna be the lineup," Washington said. “So it's not going to be hard. They'll get some playing time, every single one of them. So how I’m going to do it, I really couldn't tell you that right now. But they are going to get some playing time.”

Washington added that it’ll mostly be matchup-based and that he plans to use the designated hitter spot as a way to get more at-bats for his outfielders. Trout and veteran third baseman Anthony Rendon are expected to DH roughly once a week, but the DH spot is open otherwise. Infielder Brandon Drury is also likely to see time there as well.

“Who's the pitcher, who has good matchups, who fits well at that time against that pitcher, those types of things,” Washington said. “Who needs a break? And we’ll use the DH, because every one of those guys is gonna find themselves getting a little bit of DH time also.”

Hicks, who joined the club on a one-year deal worth the league minimum this offseason, could be playing himself into more time on the field early this season. He went 1-for-3 on Wednesday after an impressive showing on Tuesday that saw him go 2-for-2 with a two-run homer, two walks and two stolen bases.

“He’s been outstanding,” Washington said. “He’s a veteran. He knows what he’s doing. It seems like he’s getting some new life. And I’m happy he’s here because he’s been on some playoff teams with regularity and can make an impression on our young kids.”

Rendon hits leadoff for first time with Angels
Rendon served as the club’s leadoff hitter in their split-squad 5-2 loss against the Giants on Wednesday, going 0-for-1 with two walks, and Washington wouldn’t rule out Rendon hitting in that spot in the regular season. It was the first time Rendon hit first in a Spring Training game since March 9, 2015, while the last time he did it in the regular season was Oct. 4, 2015.

Washington said he’s still tinkering with his lineups late in spring, especially because the Angels don’t have a prototypical leadoff hitter. He still views Moniak and Hicks as options at leadoff but wants to get a few different looks before the season starts. Luis Rengifo was viewed as a candidate earlier this spring but made too many outs early in counts. Zach Neto is also having a huge spring offensively, but Washington likes keeping him in the No. 9 spot to keep the pressure off him in his first full season in the Majors.

“Just trying to find some things with the lineup,” Washington said. “I stayed status quo with the lineup throughout the spring. And to be honest with you, I wasn't impressed with the top of it, the way it was working. So I wanted to try something else. Rendon gets on base. It may only last today, but I wanted to try something different.”

Sandoval to start in Minor League game Friday
Lefty Patrick Sandoval, who was named the club’s Opening Day starter on Tuesday, was originally scheduled make his last start of the spring in a Cactus League game against the White Sox but will now pitch in a Minor League game. Right-hander José Soriano will now start on Friday against Chicago after he was slated to pitch in a Minor League game on Thursday.

The decision allows Sandoval to pitch in a controlled environment ahead of his first career Opening Day start. The 27-year-old posted a 7.15 ERA in four Cactus League starts but was better on Sunday, allowing one run over 4 1/3 innings against the D-backs.