Angels to face lineup questions when Andrelton Simmons returns

first_imgBecause La Stella hits left-handed and Pujols right-handed, they would form a natural platoon. Of course, that would reduce to Pujols to playing about 30 percent of the time. So far he’s started 14 of 19 games.“We’re going to have things to think about,” Maddon said before Wednesday’s game. “We haven’t had the conversations. How do we maneuver these guys? Where do we play them?”They still have some time. Simmons said on Wednesday that he is feeling better, but he’s unsure of the timetable. Mostly, he still feels discomfort in his ankle when running the bases or making sharp cuts he would have to make in the field.“We’ll see in the next couple days,” Simmons said. “Every day I come in and talk to the trainers about how I feel after doing whatever I did the day before and whatever they have on schedule. We try that out and see how it feels. I can tell you it is feeling better every day. It gets tired every once in a while like after really working it, but I’m making progress.”UPTON’S SLUMPSince the Angels recalled top prospect Jo Adell, reducing Justin Upton’s playing time, the veteran has managed just one infield hit in 16 at-bats. He would not have even gotten that much playing time if Adell didn’t miss two games with quad tightness. Going forward, the opportunities figure to be even more limited.It highlights one of the issues that challenges managers. The Angels clearly can’t give Upton significant playing time while he’s struggling so much, but how can he improve without getting much playing time?“Talking to the hitting coaches, there are certain things we can explore,” Maddon said. “The thing about Justin is his work ethic is spectacular and he’s moving well. Watch him run to first base, watch him move in the outfield. He’s moving pretty well, so that tells me everything is still in pretty good order.“This guy has a history of getting scalding hot, and I believe that’s going to happen again. In the meantime, let’s let him work through some moments and try to pick the right spots.”Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter ANAHEIM >> Interesting decisions are looming for the Angels.Andrelton Simmons, who is out with a sprained ankle, has been getting some live at-bats with the Angels’ squad in Long Beach. Manager Joe Maddon said Simmons “is a lot closer,” and he “wouldn’t rule it out,” that Simmons could be activated sometime during this weekend’s series against the Dodgers.Then what?David Fletcher, who has been playing shortstop in Simmons’ absence, is not leaving the lineup. Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield center_img Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone ALSOThe Angels are scheduled to have Patrick Sandoval, Andrew Heaney and Julio Teheran pitch this weekend against the Dodgers. They could have used Thursday’s off day to flip-flop red hot Dylan Bundy and Teheran, allowing Bundy to pitch against the Dodgers. Maddon said they opted to keep the pitchers in order because he wants to get Teheran on track, and he remains confident that he’ll improve. …Hansel Robles, who lost his job as the Angels closer, had his third straight scoreless outing on Wednesday. Robles’ velocity, which had been an issue in his earlier struggles, has improved slightly. On Wednesday he hit 97.4 mph, his hardest fastball of the year, while striking out the side. “The stuff seems to be trending in an upward way,” Maddon said before the game, “so I’ll just try to pick the right spots for him and keep moving him back toward (the high leverage spots).” “Fletch plays,” Maddon said. “He’s just got to play.”Fletcher, of course, has been a dependable utility man for the Angels in his first two years, but he’s taken that to a new level this year. He is hitting .303 with an .882 OPS. He already has three homers, which is halfway to his total from last season.Once Simmons returns, it crosses shortstop off the list of Fletcher’s possible positions. Fletcher can also play second, third and the corner outfield spots.If current performance is the most important factor to determine which player loses playing time when Simmons bumps Fletcher off shortstop, it could be Albert Pujols.The Angels could play Fletcher every day at second, with Tommy La Stella moving over to first. La Stella had barely played any first base until summer camp, but he’s now made three of his last eight starts there. He’s also heated up at the plate, lifting his average to .288 and his OPS to .855. Pujols is hitting .182 with a .601 OPS.last_img

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