Washington setting new expectations on Day 1 of camp

February 13th, 2024

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The first official day of Spring Training is usually laid back, with pitchers and catchers reporting to camp and undergoing physicals before a light workout.

But under new manager Ron Washington, the Angels got after it on Day 1 on Tuesday, with a full day of workouts for pitchers and catchers ahead of the first official workout day on Wednesday. Position players don’t have to report until Sunday, but several were already in camp and working out, including Mickey Moniak, Zach Neto, Nolan Schanuel, Jo Adell, Kyren Paris and Michael Stefanic.

Catcher Logan O’Hoppe said he already sees a change in culture under Washington and believes that the team is already setting a tone by getting to work early in the spring.

“I mean, I love it,” O’Hoppe said. “Physical days are always the worst because you're home at 11 a.m. and you got nothing to do for the rest of the day. It's nice to have a workout today, and I do think that's part of it. I know a bunch of us have been here early too, so we're all hitting the ground running.”

Washington, who is managing for the first time since his highly successful stint with the Rangers from 2007-14, said it felt good to be back in charge of a club and already knows what his message will be to the players when he addresses them later this week once everyone is in camp.

“I know what my message is going to be, and it’s about unity,” Washington said. “We're gonna have to get together and make certain that we cover every aspect of the game of baseball. And then once we do that, just go out and play.”

Left-hander Patrick Sandoval, who is one of the club’s longest-tenured players, having pitched with the Angels since 2019, said he also can already see a change in the atmosphere at camp compared to recent years. He said he can tell that the younger players on the roster are eager and hungry to succeed and now it’s up to him and other veterans to help lead the way.

“I like where we’re at,” Sandoval said. “I’ve been here for about a month and there's been a lot of guys coming in. So I know the vibes here are really good. The guys are ready to work and I think just the overall vibe around the guys of getting our work in is a little bit different this year. Everyone is very involved in everyone's development here and it's a good culture to have.”

The scene at Angels camp was also much different without two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani, who previously drew huge crowds of both fans and media members to Spring Training. It was a more subdued first day of camp for the Angels, who appear to have a no-nonsense approach under Washington.

Washington still has plenty of fun but he expects a certain work ethic and attitude, and it’s already starting to rub off on the players early in camp.

“I like the personnel and I like the attitude,” Washington said. “I think we can change. I think we can be what we think we can be. And it's all about belief. So far, we’re on a good foot.”

Angels tidbits

  • Lefty José Suarez will be a few days late to camp because he’s attending to a personal matter. He’s going to be stretched out to start this spring, although his best chance of making the club remains as a long reliever, much like Jaime Barria’s role in recent years. Reliever José Cisnero, who was signed to a one-year deal worth $1.75 million on Feb. 3, will be at least a week late to camp because of visa issues.
  • The Angels and Bally Sports West announced that 30 Spring Training games will be televised this year, as the only three games that won’t be on TV are road split-squad games on Feb. 25, March 6 and March 20. But every game will air on the radio on LAA AM830.
  • The Angels will again have several former players as instructors this camp, including Albert Pujols, Vladimir Guerrero, David Eckstein, Tim Salmon and Mark Gubizca. Gubicza, the club’s longtime television color analyst, will be a guest instructor for the first time and will work closely with the club’s pitchers.