Left-handed reliever José Quijada had to wait a while before finally joining the Angels in Tempe, Ariz., this spring.
Quijada remained in his native Venezuela due to visa issues that kept him from joining the club until Tuesday. Now that Quijada is in camp, he's ready to get back in the mix of things. He arrived 30 pounds lighter than he was last season.
Quijada said his main focus was to maintain good health while he trained in Venezuela and waited for issues with his visa to be resolved.
“I kept practicing while I was in Venezuela because I knew at any moment, I was going to get the call about my visa status,” Quijada said in Spanish through a team interpreter. “I prepared and focused on losing weight and keeping myself healthy.”
Quijada added that the weight loss has helped him on the mound.
“It’s been really good to help improve my pitching,” he said. “In reality, I feel really good.”
Angels manager Joe Maddon said Quijada brings quality stuff and a fearless attitude.
“He’s kind of got a fearlessness about him,” Maddon said. “The big thing with him is just strike-throwing, and I’ve seen him when he’s really on and when he’s on it’s pretty good. He’s a left-hander with really above-average stuff.”
After he was claimed off waivers from Miami a year ago, Quijada spent the majority of the shortened 2020 season at the Angels' alternate training site in Long Beach, Calif. The 25-year-old pitched just 3 2/3 innings last season, allowing four runs (three earned) and a home run in six appearances. Despite seeing limited playing time, Quijada said he treated his alternate site outings as if they were regular-season games.
“I’m always going to pitch the same,” he said.
Quijada is not currently on the 40-man roster due to his visa issues. The Angels have 30 days from March 23 to add him back.
Prior to joining the Angels, Quijada made his Major League debut with the Marlins in 2019. He finished his rookie season with a 5.76 ERA and 44 strikeouts and 29 2/3 innings.
Despite the setbacks to start his 2021 season, Quijada said he’ll be ready for anything that comes his way.
“I’m able to get up to speed really quickly,” he said. “Wherever I go, I’m going to work the same. The goal has always been to get to the big leagues again.”