The Angels placed third baseman Anthony Rendon on the 10-day injured list with a left groin strain before Monday’s series opener against the Royals. Fellow infielder Jack Mayfield was recalled to replace Rendon on the roster. Additionally, right-hander Jaime Barria was optioned and sidearm reliever Ben Rowen’s contract was purchased.
Rendon injured his groin on a throw late in Saturday’s game against the Blue Jays and was scheduled to be held out of the lineup on Sunday before the game was rained out. He felt sore enough on Monday that the club decided to place him on the IL, retroactive to Saturday, which means the soonest he can return is on April 19 against the Rangers.
“He has a little bit of a strain in the groin area and we’re hoping it’s 10 days, but you never want to put a time limit on these things,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ll let it play it out and see how it goes.”
With Rendon out, José Rojas started at third base on Monday and is expected to see most of the action there until he returns. Mayfield can also fill in at third, when necessary, and is likely to be used a defensive replacement late in games.
“You’ll see a lot of Rojas,” Maddon said. “Mayfield could be a late-inning replacement, but I want to see how [Rojas] is doing and give him the opportunity to stay out there. We were planning on him playing more second base, but he’s competent at third. He’s really throwing well and has a strong arm.”
Rowen, meanwhile, gives the Angels yet another look out of their bullpen, as he’s a sidearmer, but also throws over-the-top as well. He throws sidearmed roughly 80 percent of the time.
The 32-year-old appeared in the Majors with the Rangers in 2014 and Brewers in '16, posting a 6.94 ERA in 11 2/3 career innings. But he was solid with the Braves' Double-A and Triple-A clubs in 2019, posting a 3.61 ERA in 89 2/3 innings. He was signed as a Minor League free agent this season, as general manager Perry Minasian was familiar with him from their time together in Atlanta’s organization. Rowen was added to the 40-man roster on Monday and was close to making the club out of Spring Training before they signed Steve Cishek and Tony Watson to one-year deals.
Rowen saw action right away and made quick work of the Royals in the ninth inning of Monday's 10-3 win with a 1-2-3 inning in his first appearance in the Majors since Sept. 20, 2016.
“He’s a fearless guy and he’s deceptive,” Maddon said. “He’s kind of like Cishek, but he’s more like Chad Bradford, who I had with the Rays for a bit. The ball comes from underneath. The lefties and righties don’t like it.”
Ohtani throws a bullpen session
Two-way star Shohei Ohtani threw a light bullpen session prior to Monday’s game, as he’s still working to return to the mound after dealing with a blister on his right middle finger in his first start of the season on April 4. Ohtani threw 10 pitches without using a bandage on his middle finger and Maddon said everything went to plan, but they’re still not sure when his next start will be.
“It was a nice, light piece and he felt good and he’ll build off that,” Maddon said. “I have no other info, other than it went well. But he did have to play catch before it. We’re being cautious, but it went well.”
Maddon, though, said that Ohtani will need to throw another bullpen session at a higher intensity before he’s cleared to make another start. He hasn’t officially been ruled out from starting next weekend in the series against the Twins, but he appears more likely to return to the mound early next week. He continues to not be affected by the blister at the plate.
“We really want to be careful ramping him up with the finger,” Maddon said. “We don’t want it to be zero to 60 and then it’s bad all over again. It’s going to have to be gradual and a step-by-step process to get him back.”
Lagares scratched from lineup
Right fielder Juan Lagares was scratched from Monday's game with left calf tightness, roughly 45 minutes prior to first pitch. Jared Walsh replaced him in right field, with Albert Pujols taking over for Walsh at first base.
Lagares has played in two games this season, going 0-for-7, including 0-for-3 while starting in right field on Saturday against the Blue Jays. It's unclear when he sustained the injury.
"It just happened and was, I guess, the residue of the wet game [on Saturday]," Maddon said. "He didn't say anything then, but he did today right before the game. So, I don't know. The trainers weren't optimistic, pessimistic, it's more of a day-to-day kind of thing. When he walks in tomorrow, I'll find out."
Stassi exits early with left thumb irritation
Catcher Max Stassi was removed from the game for pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki in the seventh inning, as he was experiencing left thumb irritation. Maddon said Stassi got his thumb jammed on a pitch and was undergoing further evaluation after the game. Stassi has been off to a hot start at the plate, batting .375 with a homer in seven games.
"He's sore," Maddon said. "He's getting looked at by the doc right now. He got jammed on a pitch early in the game. I couldn't believe he stayed in as long as he did. So, we'll see. He's just getting checked on right now."