Heaney to start Angels' 2020 season opener

July 5th, 2020

ANAHEIM -- Angels left-hander remains the club’s Opening Day starter, manager Joe Maddon confirmed on Sunday.

Heaney was originally named the Opening Day starter during Spring Training, and he will keep that honor despite the season being delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. It’ll be the first Opening Day start for Heaney, and it will come on July 23 or 24, as the schedule is expected to be released this week.

But the Angels could be without right-hander to open the season, as he still hasn’t reported to Summer Camp and Maddon said he might not be ready by Opening Day. Maddon added that MLB protocols are keeping him from saying why Teheran isn’t in camp.

“That’s going to be based on when he gets here and how much time he has available to get stretched out,” Maddon said. “I don’t have a specific answer for that. That’s up in the air. Right now, I can’t tell you for sure that he’ll be available.”

With Teheran potentially unavailable, Maddon said that both and will be stretched out to start. Andriese had already begun that process, while Peña will now be treated as a starter in camp.

"They're in line for both,” Maddon said. “If in fact we can't get enough people stretched out to be starters, they're both in the running for that. … Andriese already has, but Peña is also going to be treated as though he's going to start first and then relieve second."

Maddon also confirmed that first baseman is among the other Angels players who have not arrived yet. Maddon again cited protocols when asked if he could say why Thaiss is not in camp. Thaiss was expected to be the backup to Albert Pujols at first base, but if he’s not available, could take his spot on the roster.

Maddon enjoys Long Beach camp
Maddon spent Saturday at the club’s alternate training site at Long Beach State’s Blair Field and came away impressed by what he saw from the players and from the facilities. Top prospect is among those training in Long Beach, Calif., while left-hander Reid Detmers, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2020 Draft, is also part of the player pool there.

“Jo Adell looked well. Honestly, they all did,” Maddon said. “I was so impressed with the workout. That’s where the pitchers are going to get their defensive work. Jo Adell looked good. A lot of guys did.”

Maddon said he’ll likely make one more trip to Blair Field but will otherwise spend his time at Angel Stadium, especially once the intrasquad games begin on Tuesday. But he enjoyed meeting Detmers in person and is friends with Detmer's coach at Louisville, Dan McDonnell.

“Great conversation with Reid,” Maddon said. “I know his coach well. Coach McDonnell did a clinic at Sonoma State. I told him I texted coach after he was drafted. I asked him about Louisville. He's really easy to talk to. Of course, it's a whirlwind to be in that situation. But he’s easy to like. You can sense the lower heartbeat.”

Angels tidbits
• The Angels have converted the suites at Angel Stadium to accommodate players, as each player has their own suite to create proper social distancing. Players still get dressed in the clubhouse but are otherwise instructed to spend their down time in their suite, as the couches and lounging areas have been removed from the clubhouse. Players have their own refrigerators and can play their own music in their individual suites, Maddon said.

• Maddon reiterated that he could have a quicker hook with starting pitchers this season because of games will having more meaning than with a traditional 162-game slate. He said it brings on more importance for the bullpen and he’ll need to lean on middle relievers.

“You're playing differently starting the season in the playoff race,” Maddon said. “You will be less tolerant at times and thus you're going to go to the bullpen sooner. So that's part of the thought process, too. That middle guy can be a pretty dominant role this season."

• Two-way star celebrated his 26th birthday on Sunday.