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Canning, elbow pass last test before season

@RhettBollinger
July 21, 2020

Griffin Canning looked sharp Monday night in his first outing against another club since he injured his right elbow in Spring Training. The right-hander pitched six scoreless innings in a 1-0 exhibition win over the Padres at Petco Park. Canning, who received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow

Griffin Canning looked sharp Monday night in his first outing against another club since he injured his right elbow in Spring Training. The right-hander pitched six scoreless innings in a 1-0 exhibition win over the Padres at Petco Park.

Canning, who received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow in early March after making just one Spring Training start, showed he was healthy and had great command against San Diego. Canning struck out five -- including Manny Machado twice -- and walked two while allowing three hits.

Box score

"That's the standard for me," Canning said via Zoom. "It's something that I can come back to and watch this outing and kind of take all the good stuff from this outing and use it for myself going forward."

Canning said the key was finding a new routine in between innings, as he’s now using a vibrating heating sleeve on his elbow to keep it warm. It’s something he plans to keep doing throughout the regular season. He also battled elbow problems as a rookie last year, and his season ended in mid-August.

"I'm just keeping it warm in between innings so it's not just sitting there and tightening up,” Canning said. "It's just something I have to continue to manage and continue to find that routine that works for me. But it was definitely a step in the right direction finding that kind of thing that I can do between innings."

Canning was also efficient, needing 76 pitches to get through his six frames. Of his 76 pitches, he got 15 called strikes and eight swinging strikes. He struck out Machado on four-seam fastballs twice, once in the first and again in the sixth with a runner at second and one out. His fastball averaged roughly 93 mph and topped out at 95 mph, per Statcast. But he was also pleased he was able to locate his slider and credited his control of his off-speed pitches for his success.

"I feel like [fastball command] is always a little bit better when I'm commanding my other pitches, just kind of almost sneaking it in there," Canning said. "I was throwing a lot of offspeed early. I could kind of tell they were kind of sitting on that later on, so I was able to kind of sneak some fastballs in there and not necessarily have to be too fine with them just because I'd kind of done the work early on in the outing."

Rendon iffy for Opening Day

It was a solid showing from Canning, who is likely to be the Angels' fourth starter. Andrew Heaney is scheduled for Opening Day on Friday at Oakland. Dylan Bundy is lined up to start Saturday and Shohei Ohtani on Sunday. It’s not official, but Canning’s first start looks to be against the A’s next Monday.

"He has such a great mound presence,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He knows how good he can be. He went out there tonight and pitched with his best stuff. Every pitch he threw tonight was with a purpose, and he had great form."

Canning didn’t receive much run support. The Angels scored just once against former Halos right-hander Garrett Richards. David Fletcher led off the game with a single, and Mike Trout walked to set up a run-scoring throwing error from Richards on a softly hit grounder from Tommy La Stella.

Trout looked locked in at the plate, walking in the first and ripping a double off Richards in the third that had an exit velocity of 111.1 mph, per Statcast. Even when Trout made an out in the fifth, it was on a line drive to Machado at third that left the bat at 101.1 mph.

“He didn't hit a homer off me. I guess that's a win for me,” said Richards, who remains close friends with Trout. “But it just shows how good a hitter he is when you're facing him. I made some pretty good pitches tonight, and he hit the ball hard.”

Bonus baseball
The Padres and Angels combined for only an unearned run over the first nine frames Monday night. But when the game had technically ended, the two sides kept playing, in an effort to get a feel for the new extra-innings rule in which an automatic runner starts each inning at second base.

The rule -- as it is intended to -- sparked quite a bit of offense. The Angels plated two runs on José Briceño's double against Padres right-hander Javy Guerra (though only one was earned, because Guerra’s inherited runner does not count against his line). The Padres scored a run in the bottom half of the frame and had the bases loaded when the inning was cut short because Keynan Middleton had reached his pitch count.

The two teams played the top half of the 11th inning, as well, but Pierce Johnson’s frame also came to an early end because of pitch count, though he didn’t allow a runner to score.

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.