Marsh, Adell and Ward to provide 'group effort' in OF corners

April 5th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- Whatever he finds in the shower, Brandon Marsh throws on his beard.

Conditioner, shampoo, two-in-one. Anything at all. Marsh, the Angels’ promising second-year outfielder, boasts one of the most impressive displays of facial hair in the league. It’s back this season -- and with the Angels’ outfield situation looking wide open beyond Mike Trout, expect to see the beard flying around the grass at Angel Stadium often.

“You know how dirty I get,” Marsh said before the Angels’ 10-4 win in a Freeway Series game over the Dodgers on Monday night. “I don’t really take good care of [the beard]. It just came out of nowhere.”

Marsh might have to start taking better care of it, because odds are it’ll get plenty dirty in 2022. After the Angels designated incumbent Justin Upton for assignment, Marsh, former top prospect Jo Adell and fifth-year grinder Taylor Ward are the only outfielders aside from Trout left on the roster.

Three days before Opening Day -- by manager Joe Maddon’s own admission -- there still isn’t much of a set plan for the Marsh-Adell-Ward carousel.

“To be honest with you, I think it’s going to be a group effort,” Marsh said. “I don’t know what the positions are. I know Trout’s in center … we’re going to fill in the corners.”

When Trout was held out of Monday’s game with a stomach bug, Marsh slid into his center field spot, while Adell took left field and Ward right.

Anticipating injury and frequent platooning, Maddon said it’s likely the three end up with a similar number of at-bats once the season ends.

“Baseball has a cruel way of answering its own questions,” Maddon mused. “I’ll just follow that map.”

The trio is heavy on potential, but light on demonstrated production. Not one has totaled more than a full season’s worth of games in their careers, and to date, they’ve combined for a .229 average.

It might be a bumpy ride at times. In the first inning Monday, Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman lined a ball to left field, where Adell was seemingly waiting to play it off the hop. But the second-year outfielder appeared to overplay it, and the ball skipped past him all the way to the wall for a rare Freeman triple in the new signee’s first at-bat at Dodger Stadium.

But the three have impressed this spring, each knocking three home runs. They haven’t been just teeing off against Triple-A hopefuls, either. In the third inning against the Dodgers, Marsh stepped to the plate against Dodgers lefty Julio Julio Urías -- a 20-game winner last season -- and promptly drove a first-pitch fastball into the right-field seats.

The trio can only further benefit from playing a full season next to Trout, who Marsh called the “GOAT” with a beaming smile.

Marsh has praised the elder outfielder as a “big brother” who’s taken himself, Adell and Ward under his wing, and recognizes it’s time for that mentorship to start paying dividends.

“We’re trying to win,” Marsh said. “We’re not trying to waste any time, and neither is he. The urgency is very, very up there.”

Short hops

• Maddon said Trout felt “fine” during Sunday’s game against the Dodgers, but started feeling ill that night. The manager mostly shrugged the sickness off, and as of now, it doesn’t appear Trout will miss any extended time.

• A couple lingering questions still remain for the team’s Opening Day roster -- namely, the number of pitchers and the status of infielders Michael Stefanic and Jose Rojas. Maddon said the team would be finalizing the group after Tuesday's final game in a preseason Freeway Series that marks the end of the Angels’ Spring Training.