Maddon: Trout could move from CF; Ohtani healthy

March 13th, 2022

TEMPE, Ariz. -- It was the official Spring Training report date across baseball on Sunday and Angels manager Joe Maddon met with the media for the first time since the lockout in early December.

Maddon had plenty to say about the upcoming season. Here are five takeaways from his 20-minute session:

1. The Angels are considering moving Trout off center field
Superstar Mike Trout is coming off a year that saw him limited to just 36 games because of a season-ending right calf strain suffered in mid-May. As a result, Maddon said they might be cautious with him this year and move him to a corner outfield spot. Former top prospect Brandon Marsh got his first taste of the Majors last year and is considered a strong defender in center field.

Trout, 30, has exclusively played center field since 2014 but has played 124 career games in left and 17 in right, as he saw some time in the corner outfield early in his career when Peter Bourjos was on the roster. Trout said late last season he had no desire to move away from center, but Maddon said they’ll talk about it with him this spring.

"It's been talked about, but I have to talk to Mike,” Maddon said. "Playing center field every day in the big leagues coming off a severe injury, it's not gonna be easy. But neither is left field at our ballpark. It actually gets big. So there's a lot to discuss. No conclusions have been made."

2. Ohtani is healthy and on a similar plan as last year
Two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani had a healthy offseason and made another visit to the Arizona branch of Driveline to continue to work on his mechanics. Catcher Max Stassi caught a few of his bullpen sessions in early February and said Ohtani looked just as strong as last year when he won the AL MVP Award unanimously. Maddon said they don’t plan to change much with Ohtani because it worked out so well last season. But he would like to get more clarification on how to use Ohtani as a hitter with the universal designated hitter in place.

“We have to make sure [MLB] is going to be fine with him hitting when he pitches,” Maddon said. “I don’t know if that’s been addressed yet. He needs to hit or we’d be the only team playing NL rules when he pitches."

3. The Angels aren’t done adding players this spring
The Angels made some notable moves early this offseason, such as signing pitchers Noah Syndergaard, Raisel Iglesias, Aaron Loup and Michael Lorenzen. They have been quiet the last few days, outside of agreeing to terms on a one-year deal with catcher Kurt Suzuki on Saturday. But Maddon said general manager Perry Minasian is looking for more pitching help and possibly a shortstop before the season starts.

"Perry is still working to add a couple more names to our group," Maddon said. "We're not done but we've made some nice progress."

4. Open competitions at shortstop and for No. 6 starter
Outside of pitching, the club’s biggest weakness is at shortstop. Maddon said he sees Andrew Velazquez as the current leader there, ahead of Luis Rengifo and Tyler Wade. All three will compete for the job, but there remains a chance the Angels acquire a shortstop. Carlos Correa and Trevor Story remain on the market, but it still remains unclear if the club would make that kind of a splash. And with Ohtani, Syndergaard, Lorenzen, Patrick Sandoval and José Suarez considered locks for the rotation, it leaves open one more spot. The Angels could sign a free agent or make a trade,or they could go with internal options such as Griffin Canning, Jaime Barría or Reid Detmers.

5. Maddon remains in the last year of his deal but is open to an extension
Maddon signed a three-year deal as Angels manager before the 2020 season, and he confirmed he has yet to be approached about an extension. But he made it clear he wants to be retained.

"It doesn't bother me, because I've been there before," Maddon said. "But, of course, I'd like to remain here, but we'll see how it all plays out. I have not been approached yet. This is where it is. But I would like to do this for several more years."