The Los Angeles Angels hope three-time MVP Mike Trout will return to the starting lineup Friday night when they open a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles in Anaheim, Calif.
Angels manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday he was “pretty certain” Trout would be ready after missing the past three games with a contusion on the back of his left hand. Trout was hit by a pitch thrown by Rangers reliever Spencer Patton on Sunday.
Trout is off to a mediocre start to the season, batting .267 with a .405 on-base percentage, a .567 slugging percentage, two homers and three RBIs in nine games.
Los Angeles shortstop David Fletcher, on the 10-day injured list due to a strained hip, is eligible to return to the active roster Friday but is not expected to be ready.
The Angels, though, have had success without two of their most important players in the lineup — they are 3-1 in games without Trout and 6-2 in games without Fletcher.
Brandon Marsh has played center field in place of Trout, and Andrew Velazquez has spelled Fletcher at shortstop, part of a deep bench that has been key to the club’s early success.
Also on the list of reserves is Jack Mayfield, who has played both second base and third base this year and has hit safely in all seven games he’s played in. Going back to last season, Mayfield has hit in 13 straight and 18 of 19.
This season, Mayfield is batting .360 (9-for-25) with a 1.029 OPS, one double, one triple and one home run.
“The pop is real, the ball off the bat is real; he’s a really big part of what we’re doing,” Maddon said. “Jackie plays that way. If you look at his minor-league numbers, they were good. It’s not like this is a surprise. He is a classic example of somebody needing an opportunity.”
Mayfield, 31, also has played for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners but is getting more playing time with Los Angeles.
“The staff and the coaches and everyone, they show confidence in me, and that definitely helps,” Mayfield said. “They make me feel relaxed out there, and they trust me. I just have to keep playing my game and stay consistent, stay scrappy, do what I do best.”
Left-hander Reid Detmers (0-0, 8.59 ERA) will start for the Angels against Orioles lefty Bruce Zimmermann (0-0, 0.00 ERA) on Friday, each making his third start of the season and each looking for his first win.
Zimmermann, though, has been better, having thrown nine scoreless innings overall. He threw four innings against the Milwaukee Brewers on April and five against the New York Yankees on Sunday, giving up a total of seven hits and four walks while striking out 10.
Zimmermann is not the only Baltimore pitcher throwing well. The entire starting staff has stepped up since the club lost No. 1 starter John Means to an arm injury April 13.
Including Tyler Wells’ start against the Oakland A’s on Thursday (two runs in 2 1/3 innings), the Orioles’ rotation has given up just seven earned run in 42 innings, good for a 1.50 ERA in that span.
“When the guys around you are throwing well, you want to be a part of it,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “They’re feeding off each other.”
Detmers has never faced the Orioles, and Zimmermann has never faced the Angels.
Detmers is coming off a rough outing April 15 against the Texas Rangers, when he allowed five runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Orioles catcher Robinson Chirinos could return to the lineup as soon as Friday, just two days after being hit in the face by a pitch in Oakland. Chirinos passed concussion protocol and is cleared to play.
It’s likely that a potentially more serious injury was avoided because the pitch glanced off Chirinos’ shoulder before hitting him in the face.
–Field Level Media