Notes: Quintana makes Angels spring debut

February 28th, 2021

Left-hander had an eventful first inning in his Angels spring debut on Sunday but was able to get out of it unscathed in a 5-2 win against the Giants in the Cactus League opener for both clubs on Sunday.

Quintana, signed to a one-year deal worth $8 million this offseason, hit the first batter he faced, walked the next hitter and threw a wild pitch but was able to get out of the jam. He came away mostly pleased with his results but noted he needs to throw more strikes in his next outing. He threw 22 pitches and his average fastball velocity was in the low 90s, which is typical for the lefty.

"I felt OK," Quintana said. "It was the first day. My arm felt pretty good. The command needs to be better. The fastball felt really good down in the zone. But I need more first pitches for strikes."

Quintana, 32, has a career 3.73 ERA in nine seasons but is looking to bounce back after being limited to just 10 innings in 2020 because of a thumb injury and left lat inflammation. The thumb injury was a freak accident, as he cut his hand while washing dishes and could’ve missed even more time if it had damaged his tendon.

“To make judgments based on last year when the guy sliced his hand up and it’s a 60-game season and he hardly pitched at all, that’s not a good method,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He looks great. He looks healthy. Here’s a guy that normally eats up innings. He’s got a repeatable delivery, a nice compact arm stroke."

Maddon unsure on Trout’s spot in order

Angels superstar has hit both second and third in the batting order in recent seasons, so Maddon said he still hasn’t decided where Trout will bat this season. Trout batted almost exclusively second in 2019 but switched to hitting third more in 2020, especially once first baseman Jared Walsh got hot and took over the No. 2 spot.

“I like the way it played last year when Jared got really toasty and we had him after [David] Fletcher and in front of Michael,” Maddon said. “I thought we had a really solid chance to have somebody on base every time Trout hit. It’s always about that, about feeding him.”

Maddon said Trout is likely to hit in both spots this spring as the manager gets a better feel for how he’ll work the lineup around Trout. Anthony Rendon, however, is expected to bat immediately after Trout no matter where he is in the lineup. Maddon said he’ll lean on assistant general manager Alex Tamin for data on lineup construction and should know more about which way he is leaning in a few weeks.

“I’m thinking by the middle of March, I’ll have a better feeling for how I want to do this,” Maddon said. “I’m telling you, I struggle with this every morning, going through the exercise of writing it all down. So I just want to watch it.”

Angels tidbits

• Left-hander Packy Naughton was diagnosed with a Grade 1 flexor pronator strain and will be out for three to five weeks. Naughton, acquired in a trade that sent Brian Goodwin to the Reds last year, was originally diagnosed with a Grade 1 ulnar collateral ligament strain. Naughton is expected to start the year at Triple-A Salt Lake, once healthy.

• Catcher Max Stassi is doing well after undergoing left hip surgery after last season but isn’t quite ready for game action just yet. Stassi, though, is expected to be ready for Opening Day.

• Right-hander Jesse Chavez, who signed a Minor League deal with the Angels on Friday, joined camp on Sunday and threw a bullpen session. Chavez, a 13-year veteran, is competing for a spot on the club as a reliever.

• Reliever Gerardo Reyes left Sunday’s game in the third inning with right elbow discomfort, the club announced. Reyes exited with an athletic trainer after he surrendered an RBI double to Wilmer Flores with right fielder Jo Adell losing his footing on the play.