The first Spring Training game of the year is rapidly approaching for the Angels, who play the Giants in their Cactus League opener on Sunday at Scottsdale Stadium at 12:05 p.m. PT.
Left-hander José Quintana is set to start the opener in his Angels debut, while other pitchers on the list to throw include Patrick Sandoval, Dillon Peters, Jacob Faria, Gerardo Reyes Kyle Keller and Thomas Pannone. Fox Sports West announced on Saturday that every Angels Spring Training game will be televised, although they are still working out the details for airing their Freeway Series game against the Dodgers on March 28.
Most of the veteran position players won't play until Monday, against the White Sox at Tempe Diablo Stadium at 12:10 p.m. PT, but manager Joe Maddon said there will be at least four players in the lineup on Sunday who saw significant action last year.
“We're playing away and then home, so sometimes what you do is keep the varsity off the home game even though it's San Francisco and they aren't that far away,” Maddon said. “You'll see a sprinkling of guys. It’ll just start getting spread out. So you’ll start seeing them all within in the first few days. Nobody is being held back.”
Maddon said he likes to construct lineups about a week in advance so that players know when they’ll be playing in Spring Training. But he said he was still working on the upcoming lineups with bench coach Mike Gallego on Friday.
But this year, one thing that will be different is the length of Spring Training games. Until March 13, all games will be scheduled for seven innings, although they can be shortened to as few as five innings and stretched to as many as nine innings, as long as the two clubs agree to the length. After March 13, the games will be scheduled for a full nine innings, although the two managers can agree to shorten them to seven.
Maddon said he’s in favor of the change but that the club will likely have to utilize ‘B’ games to allow their non-regulars and Minor Leaguers more playing time, especially the pitchers who need to build up innings.
“The most important thing is for the fans to know about [the new rule],” Maddon said. “But I like the idea of manipulating innings played. In terms of getting your Major League team ready and COVID protocols, I get it. But at the same time, we’re clamoring for guys like Jo Adell to get more innings and other guys that more opportunity. So, it’s a fine line but we’ve already talked to teams about the coming week and who wants to play five or seven.”
Angels, Chavez agree to Minors deal
The Angels added to their pitching depth on Friday, agreeing to a Minor League deal with veteran Jesse Chavez. Chavez, 37, has a career 4.52 ERA in 13 seasons in the Majors, including a stint with the Angels in 2017 that saw him post a 5.35 ERA in 138 innings. He also pitched with the Cubs under Maddon in 2018, posting a 1.15 ERA in 39 innings.
Chavez made 18 appearances with the Rangers last year, posting a 6.88 ERA with 13 strikeouts, seven walks and six homers allowed in 17 innings. He had a 4.85 ERA in 78 innings with Texas in '19.
Chavez, a local product who attended A.B. Miller High School in Fontana and Riverside Community College, has experience as both a starter and a reliever, but will compete for a spot in the bullpen. The Angels could have an opening or two in their bullpen competition this spring.
• Maddon said he heard from former Angels star Darin Erstad recently and Erstad told Maddon he liked what the Angels were doing in terms of their philosophy and trying to improve clubhouse culture. Maddon was the club’s bench coach in 2002 when Erstad helped lead the Angels to the World Series title, and Erstad recently served as the University of Nebraska’s head coach from 2012-19.
“Conceptionally and philosophically, he told me he liked what we were doing and that made my day,” Maddon said. “It just reinforces we’re on the right path.”