Notes: Rengifo recalled; Ohtani to throw 'pen

Angels celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on Friday; Upton returns to lineup

April 17th, 2021

The Angels made several roster moves before Friday's game against the Twins, including recalling infielder and selecting the contract of outfielder Scott Schebler. Additionally, veteran outfielder Jon Jay was designated for assignment to clear space for Schebler on the 40-man roster. The club also optioned infielder Jack Mayfield on Thursday to make room for Rengifo.

Schebler and Rengifo both had solid showings in Spring Training and they give the Angels much-needed depth, especially after injuries to third baseman Anthony Rendon and outfielders Dexter Fowler and Juan Lagares. Schebler wasn’t in the lineup on Friday but Rengifo started at third base. Jay and Mayfield were previously added to the roster on the road trip because they were on the taxi squad, while Schebler and Rengifo were at the club’s alternate training site and ineligible to be added to the roster at that time.

“It was based on the positions we needed,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Rengifo had been doing well and Schebler had a nice camp, too. We like the idea that he’s a left-handed bat also. It was something where they both earned it based on what they did in Spring Training and the alternate site.”

The Angels also considered outfielder Taylor Ward but Maddon said Ward hasn’t been playing at the club’s alternate site. When asked if Ward was injured, Maddon could only say he’s been out because of “things going on in the world.”

“There’s some stuff going on there,” Maddon said. “We couldn’t consider him just based on the amount of time he’s been on the field.”

Rengifo is expected to see action all over the infield and the natural second baseman has been getting work at third base to improve his versatility. Schebler is also likely to see plenty of time in right field in the short-term but was held out of the lineup on Friday with lefty Lewis Thorpe starting for Minnesota. Jared Walsh started in right to allow Albert Pujols to start at first base.

Angels celebrate Jackie Robinson Day
The Angels were off on Thursday, when Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day, so they celebrated it on Friday against the Twins instead. All uniformed personnel wore No. 42 in honor of Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier with the Dodgers on April 15, 1947. MLB has been celebrating Jackie Robinson Day since 2004.

“It’s become more prominent over the last several years and we’ve really gotten into it, so I think because of that, players are more educated about who Mr. Robinson was,” Maddon said. “It’s probably one of the most significant events of the last century when it comes to sports and social change.”

Angels left fielder Justin Upton is a member of The Players Alliance, which saw more than 100 players commit to donate all or part their salaries from Jackie Robinson Day to the Alliance.

“I think this is my 14th time wearing it and every time it’s special,” Upton said. “Especially with everything going on in the world. To represent Jackie and what he went through, I think it’s special for everybody to wear No. 42.”

Ohtani to throw bullpen Saturday
Two-way star is scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Saturday and then the club will determine when he’ll rejoin the rotation. Ohtani hasn’t started since April 4 because of a blister on his right middle finger.

Ohtani threw a light bullpen of 10 pitches on Monday and then threw a more aggressive one on Wednesday. Ohtani threw 23 pitches without the use of a bandage on his finger on Wednesday and is expected to ramp it up even more on Saturday. If all goes well, Ohtani could rejoin the rotation at some point next week.

Upton returns to lineup
Upton missed two games with back stiffness on Tuesday and Wednesday but said Friday that his back feels better and he doesn’t believe it’ll be a chronic issue going forward. He said his back started to stiffen up on him during Monday’s game but with rest and treatment, he’s feeling much better. He started in left field against the Twins.

“We treated it all day Tuesday and started to feel a little bit better on Wednesday,” Upton said. “And then with the off-day and resting, it just got progressively better.”