Left-handed reliever Alex Claudio dealt with a right hip infection early in camp, but said Tuesday that he expects to be ready for the start of the regular season.
He said he wasn’t sure how the hip infection started, but that he feels healthy now.
“I don’t think it’s a big problem,” Claudio said through an interpreter. “It was only a week that I was late. After that, I started throwing bullpens and everything felt good in my first outing, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”
Claudio, though, hopes to be a problem for opposing batters, especially left-handers. Claudio, 29, posted a 4.26 ERA in 19 innings with the Brewers last season, and was a workhorse in '19, leading the National League with 83 appearances, while posting a 4.06 ERA in 62 innings.
He's held lefties to a .202/.246/.310 slash line in his seven-year career, but right-handers have batted .305/.356/.442. Angels manager Joe Maddon, though, pointed out that Claudio has gotten better at facing right-handers in recent years and trusts him facing hitters from both sides of the plate.
“There’s not one left-handed hitter in baseball who says that ‘I hope Claudio gets in the game,’” Maddon said. “And even righties don’t like it because it can throw you into a funk. It’s almost like a knuckleball.”
Claudio has plenty of deception in his delivery, and he’s been one of the toughest pitchers to square up in recent years, as he consistently induces low exit velocities from opposing hitters despite having a fastball that averaged only 85.8 mph last year.
"I believe it's my location," Claudio said. "Keeping the ball down in the zone, mixing up my pitches. I don't really think about contact. I just think about going out there and throwing strikes."
Maddon launches Read 15 program
Maddon, in partnership with his foundation, Respect 90, launched a reading program called Read 15, which encourages students to read a book for 15 minutes a night. Maddon also partnered with Rawlings, which will produce leather bookmarks for anyone who registers at Respect90.org/Read15 and reads five books.
"If you read for 15 minutes a night, it expands your horizons and turns you into a different person and encourages you to think in areas that you haven't before," Maddon said. "“There’s nothing more educational than sitting down with a good book and getting away from all this electronic noise. That is not old school. That’s not me being 67. That’s none of that. It’s just something that I think creates a more complete person.”
• Right-handed reliever Junior Guerra was added to the 40-man roster, which essentially means he’ll make the Opening Day roster. Outfield prospect Brandon Marsh was optioned, and is expected to start the season at the club’s alternate training site.
• Right-hander Félix Peña underwent an MRI exam after exiting Monday's game with right hamstring irritation. Maddon said that head athletic trainer Adam Nevela believes it's a minor injury, but they are being cautious with the MRI exam.
• Left fielder Justin Upton returned to the lineup on Tuesday after missing Monday’s game with a non-COVID-related illness.