Trout, Ohtani combo a welcome sight for Halos

March 20th, 2022

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels are hoping what they saw from superstars Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in Saturday's 12-5 win over the D-backs at Tempe Diablo Stadium is a sign of what’s to come this season.

Trout, playing in his first game since May 17, went 2-for-2 with two singles to left field, while Ohtani went 1-for-2 with an RBI single to left in the second inning. Ohtani served as the club’s No. 2 hitter and Trout batted right behind him.

“It had been a long time,” said Trout, who hadn’t played a game in 306 days. “I was just excited to be out there and healthy. I felt really good. I was a little anxious before the game, but I felt really good in my two at-bats. I was seeing some pitches. It was my first live because I was just tracking the other day. Being able to be out there with the guys was fun.”

Limited to 36 games because of a season-ending right calf strain, Trout was in the same lineup as Ohtani just 33 times last season. But this year, the Angels remain hopeful that Trout, a three-time American League MVP, will be on the field more with Ohtani, who won the AL MVP Award unanimously last year. And Trout added he’s on board with the idea of batting behind Ohtani like he did last year.

“I like it,” Trout said. “He gets on base a lot. But he does hit homers, though. The meat of the lineup is going to be pretty good.”

Angels manager Joe Maddon has yet to decide what the top of the lineup will look like come Opening Day, but he said there's a chance he could have Ohtani bat leadoff with Trout No. 2 and Anthony Rendon No. 3. Other leadoff candidates include David Fletcher and Brandon Marsh.

"It's possible Shohei could hit No. 1," Maddon said. "As long as Anthony is here, that makes things different. I haven't decided on that yet. We have Marsh and David and all these people. I do like Shohei hitting No. 2, but I also like him hitting No. 1. Having Anthony back makes everything different."

Minasian still looking to improve the roster
The Angels have been active since the lockout ended, signing catcher Kurt Suzuki, infielder Matt Duffy and relievers Ryan Tepera and Archie Bradley. The bullpen now appears to be a strength for the Angels, considering they also signed lefty Aaron Loup and re-signed closer Raisel Iglesias before the lockout.

The Halos, though, could still look to add another starter, as right-hander Jaime Barría and left-hander Reid Detmers are currently competing for the sixth spot in the rotation. They had interest in lefty Tyler Anderson before he signed with the Dodgers on a one-year deal worth $8 million on Friday.

“Never have enough,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said about pitching. “That’s still something we’re trying to improve. Whether that’s in the rotation or in the bullpen, we’ll still look for opportunities to do that.”

Beyond pitching, the club’s biggest hole remains at shortstop. The best free-agent shortstop available came off the board late on Friday, when the Twins and Carlos Correa agreed to a three-year deal worth $105.3 million that includes opt-outs after the 2022 and ’23 seasons, according to a source. Trevor Story remains on the market, but it remains unclear if the Angels would be willing to make that kind of commitment.

Fletcher could move to shortstop to give the Angels more options at second base. Players in the middle-infield mix include Duffy, Andrew Velazquez, Tyler Wade, Luis Rengifo and Jack Mayfield.

“We’re looking at all areas,” Minasian said. “We’re still very active in a lot of areas. That’s something we’ll continue to do the rest of the spring into the season.”

Ward, Stassi, Mayfield and Rojas go deep
The Angels’ bats were hot on Saturday, as Taylor Ward and Max Stassi both homered in the third inning, while Mayfield left the yard in the fifth and Jose Rojas went deep in the seventh. Ward is competing for a spot as an extra outfielder, and Mayfield and Rojas are among many competing for a utility role. Ward and Stassi both went deep on D-backs starter Dan Straily, and Mayfield and Rojas' blasts came off right-hander Bryce Jarvis.