Injured Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons will begin a rehab assignment at the Rookie level on Tuesday, Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic tweets. A Grade 3 left ankle sprain has kept Simmons out of action since May 20.
Simmons will have up to 20 days to rehab, meaning he’s on track to return by early July, if not sooner. The fact that Simmons should come back within a month and a half of suffering such a serious injury is a boon to the Angels. Simmons is no doubt one of their premier players, having totaled at least 5.0 fWAR in each of the previous two seasons.
A 29-year-old defensive maven, Simmons came out of the gates this season with a .298/.323/.415 slash (100 wRC+), three home runs, five steals and 1.3 fWAR in 195 plate appearances before his ankle injury. The Angels boast the lowest strikeout rate in the game (16.9 percent) thanks in part to Simmons, who has gone down on strikes a measly 7.7 percent of the time in 2019.
Sans Simmons, the Angels have deployed David Fletcher, Zack Cozart (also now on the IL) and Wilfredo Tovar at short. Tovar has been the Angels’ full-time starter at the position since they selected him from Triple-A Salt Lake on June 7, though the ex-Met hasn’t hit during his first big league action since 2014.
The Angels, to their credit, have hung around the AL wild-card race even without Simmons. At 36-37, they sit 3 1/2 games out of a playoff spot. The club just got back another major reinforcement Monday in left fielder Justin Upton, who had missed the entire season because of a toe injury. Simmons, Fletcher, Upton, Shohei Ohtani, Kole Calhoun and Tommy La Stella, among others, should make for an impressive-looking set of complements to Mike Trout. However, that group will have to overcome a less-than-stellar pitching staff in order for the Angels to break their four-year playoff drought in 2019.