Upton clears batter's eye with pair of HRs

March 9th, 2021

Not satisfied with just one homer over the batter’s eye in center field on Monday, Angels left fielder , incredibly, did it twice in the Angels’ 10-9 Cactus League loss to the Brewers at American Family Fields of Phoenix.

Third baseman , who has been eased into action early this spring, also homered, crushing a solo shot to right field off Brewers right-hander Brandon Woodruff in the second inning. It was only the third game Rendon has played.

Upton is fully healthy after dealing with injuries in recent years, and it has been showing this spring. He is batting .500 (5-for-10) with three homers in five games. Upton's first homer Monday came on a 3-2 fastball from Woodruff in the second inning, following Rendon’s homer and giving the Angels back-to-back blasts. He connected on his second homer in the fourth inning on a 1-0 fastball from lefty Brent Suter.

“It feels good,” Upton said. “Just being consistent with my work during the day and being able to take it into a game, that’s part of the plan. So being able to see some results is nice.”

Rendon experienced some general soreness before Cactus League play but has been feeling better over the past week. He proved it with his opposite-field homer off Woodruff on a 2-1 fastball. He’s 2-for-6 with a double and a homer this spring.

"He's the classic example of taking what the pitcher gives him, doesn't try to force anything ever," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "That's pretty much the way he plays baseball. He reacts to the moment; he's ready for the moment. It never speeds up on him, so there's nothing surprising about that. That's what he's good at, using the whole field."

Heaney settles down after rocky first
Left-hander struggled with his command in the first inning, allowing each of the first five batters to reach, including two walks and a hit by pitch. He was replaced by right-hander after giving up a sacrifice fly to Manny Piña on a deep fly ball to right on his 23rd pitch.

But with the new rules this spring, Heaney was able to come back out for the next inning. He worked around a walk and a single in the second, helped by a double play started by shortstop .

In the third inning, Heaney was again helped by Iglesias, who made an incredible play to end the inning. Iglesias raced to catch a popup in shallow left field and flipped the ball behind his back to Upton, who doubled off the runner at second.

"Just being a little bit more aggressive," Heaney said of his improvements after the first inning. "I think in the first inning, I was kind of trying to sort of place balls, get a feel, thinking more about working on things and hitting spots as opposed to just being aggressive in the zone. It helped me change my mindset a little bit -- and something I'll will definitely work on moving forward."

Angels tidbits
• Two-way star is scheduled to make his next start on the mound on Saturday, but Maddon wasn’t sure if it’ll come in a Cactus League game or a B game. Heaney is also scheduled to start that day. Maddon said Ohtani is the only starting pitcher on the roster who might not be fully stretched out to six innings and 95 pitches by Opening Day but that he won’t be far behind the other starters.

• Right-hander is scheduled to start on Wednesday against Cleveland, which gives him extra rest after making his last start on March 1. Maddon said Cobb been working on a few things and is not injured.

• Ohtani batted third, in between and Rendon, on Monday, which is unusual because Rendon usually bats after Trout. Maddon said not to read anything into it because he prefers to have Trout and Rendon bat back-to-back during the regular season. Maddon, though, has not determined whether Trout will hit second or third in the order this year.

• Reliever , who saw his arrival to camp delayed because of visa problems, made his Cactus League debut on Monday and threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Guerra isn’t on the 40-man roster but is considered to have a solid shot of making the Opening Day roster.

• Anaheim native José Rojas homered for the second time this spring and is 4-for-8 at the plate. Outfield prospect , ranked as the club’s No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline on Monday, also crushed a three-run blast.