Halos hold first workout, adjust to protocols

February 17th, 2021

The Angels held their first workouts between pitchers and catchers on Wednesday, but without five of their pitchers who will be late to camp, including right-hander Jaime Barria and lefty reliever Alex Claudio.

Barria, a Panama City native, is one of four players facing visa issues, joining lefty reliever José Quijada (Caripito, Venezuela), right-handed reliever Junior Guerra (San Felix, Venezuela) and Rule 5 Draft selection Jose Alberto Rivera (San Cristobal, Dominican Republic). Claudio, signed to a one-year deal worth $1.125 million this offseason, is sidelined by a right hip infection, which could keep him out of action for a few weeks.

"They're saying a week or maybe two weeks, but it could be longer," Angels manager Joe Maddon said of Claudio's ailment. "There's no way to be an absolute timeframe on something like that. It just came out of the blue, so we're just getting information on that."

Otherwise, all of the club’s pitchers and catchers participated in workouts at the club’s Spring Training complex in Tempe, Ariz., including two-way star Shohei Ohtani. The club is also utilizing the Minor League side of the complex, which allows them to use more fields and the two large clubhouses usually used by those not in big league camp.

Angels pitchers will throw bullpens leading up to live batting practice sessions, which should ramp up next week once the first full squad workout begins on Monday. Until then, Maddon said he wants to monitor the energy at camp and make sure everyone is upbeat. He usually would’ve held a team meeting on the first day of workouts, but he couldn’t because of COVID-19 protocols.

"It's all about the energy and the vibe," Maddon said. "I just have to get around as much as I possibly can. It's so important for us to establish a high-energy camp. There are times I think our group gets a little bit too uptight. So I want to take the air out a little bit."

Angels quality assurance coach Tim Buss is one of the main catalysts to keeping players loose with his entertaining antics on the field. But Maddon said unfortunately he can’t bring any guests or former players to camp like he did last year, because of the restrictions in place this season. But he believes Buss has a big impact on the players and loves to call him by his nickname as the “vice president of stuff.”

"He's already ingratiating himself with the entire group of players and coaches and the front office,” Maddon said. “He's been turned loose. He's getting his tentacles into more and more areas here and he's been outstanding. He's funny and because someone is funny, they don't get credit for other areas, but he's really well organized and does a lot for us."

Angels tidbits
• First baseman Jared Walsh is listed as a two-way player in the club’s official Spring Training roster. Walsh didn’t pitch in 2020 due to a minor injury suffered in Spring Training, but he pitched in both the Minors and Majors with the Angels in ’19, throwing a combined 18 innings. This season, position players are allowed to pitch without any restrictions.

• Maddon said he's intrigued by the new ball this year, which is expected to not travel as far as in recent seasons. He said he's hoping it'll put more of an emphasis on speed, making contact and hitting the ball the other way.

• The Angels plan to keep Barria stretched out, as he’s out of Minor League options and has to make the Opening Day roster or else be exposed to waivers. Barria could be used as a true reliever once the season starts, but the club is open to him in a swingman role, serving as both a long reliever and a spot starter.