Trout, Rendon to share DH spot for rest days in '24

Plus: Competition for bench spot heating up; Hunter back in camp

March 13th, 2024

TEMPE, Ariz. -- While the Angels traveled up to Surprise to face the Royals on Wednesday, veterans and stayed back at the club’s Spring Training complex to face right-hander Griffin Canning in an intrasquad game.

Canning, who was lined up to pitch Tuesday but saw it pushed back a day because of the off-day, gave up just one run over five innings but it came on a long blast to left field from Trout that ended the intrasquad action. Canning was otherwise solid and is expected to make his next outing in a Cactus League game.

Trout went 1-for-3 with a walk and a long flyout down the left-field line, while Rendon went 2-for-3 with an infield single and a nice barehanded play at third base. Backup catcher Matt Thaiss and outfielder Aaron Hicks also played in the game to get more at-bats.

Angels manager Ron Washington said it was up to Trout and Rendon if they wanted to play in the Cactus League game or stay back and he was fine with their decision. Rendon is also expected to play on the Minor League side on Thursday when the Angels travel to Glendale to play the White Sox.

“We could’ve had them go up to Surprise and get their at-bats up there but this allows them to control things,” Washington said. “And the bottom of the line is you don’t want to get on that bus.”

Washington said he plans to be smart with Trout and Rendon this year, as they’ve both dealt with injuries in recent seasons. Trout, 32, has played in 237 games over the last three seasons for an average of 79 per year, while Rendon, 33, has played in 148 games over the last three years for an average of 49 per season.

Washington said he’ll use the open designated hitter spot to give Trout and Rendon a chance to get a bit of a breather, as he expects each of them to DH roughly once a week.

“We’re going to get Mike off his feet at least once a week and Rendon off his feet at least once a week,” Washington said. “I think it’s going to be very substantial for [Trout’s] workload, especially with him roaming center field. He knows that he can do it. So I'm gonna allow him to do it and give him the breaks when he thinks he needs the breaks. But I’m not going to make it two or three times a week. We don’t want it to get in his head.”

Sanó, Adrianza and Soto candidates for final bench spot

Washington said the final bench spot will come down to corner infielder Miguel Sanó and middle infielders Ehire Adrianza and Livan Soto. Sanó and Adrianza were both signed to Minor League deals this offseason, while Soto was re-claimed on waivers from the Orioles on Feb. 18.

Sanó brings tantalizing power, including crushing a solo homer off Royals right-hander Matt Sauer on Wednesday, and has shown strong work ethic this spring after losing 58 pounds since he last played in the Majors in 2022. But the 30-year-old also has swing and miss concerns and profiles more as a first baseman and designated hitter. The Angels would have to use Luis Rengifo as their backup shortstop if he’s on the squad.

Adrianza, 34, is more of a traditional utility player and has 11 years of big league experience but missed most of last season after shoulder surgery. Soto, 23, also can handle short but seems more likely to open the year in the Minors for more consistent playing time.

“I think we better just continue to let that play out,” Washington said. “Because I don't want to say something that's detrimental to someone else, and I don't mean it like that. So the only way I can answer that question is just let it play out and see how it goes.”

Hunter joins Angels camp as a guest instructor

Torii Hunter was the latest former Angels player to come to Spring Training as a guest instructor and he’ll remain in that role through Monday. Hunter, 48, played with the Angels from 2008-12 as part of his 19-year career that saw him win nine Gold Gloves and be named an All-Star five times.

Hunter was reunited with a few of his former teammates, as he played with Trout on the Angels from 2011-12 and with Hicks and Sanó on the Twins in 2015. Hunter served as a mentor to both Trout and Hicks as young outfielders when they were first coming up in the Majors.