The Angels infield depth has taken a bit of a hit in recent days, as Sam Blum of The Athletic noted that second baseman Luis Rengifo is dealing with a hamstring issue and pulled himself from yesterday’s team workouts. While Blum notes that Rengifo won’t be participating in baseball activities for the next few days, manager Ron Washington remained “adamant” that Rengifo would be ready for Opening Day. That same certainty doesn’t appear to be present regarding infielder Michael Stefanic, who (as noted by Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register) exited today’s game with a left quad strain and will be re-evaluated tomorrow.
That Rengifo’s hamstring issue doesn’t appear to be serious is surely a relief for Halos fans, as Rengifo is looking to build on last year’s career season in 2024. While shuffling between shortstop, second base, third base, and all three outfield spots last year, the switch hitter managed to hit .264/.339/.444 in 445 trips to the plate. Solid as that production was, Rengifo’s second half last year was even more impressive as he slashed a whopping .318/.374/.587 after the All Star break before his season came to an end in early September due to a biceps issue that ultimately required surgery. That strong second half leaves Rengifo likely to earn the lion’s share of playing time at second base with the Angels this season, so long as he can stay healthy.
As for Stefanic, the 28-year-old has just 50 games of big league experience under his belt across the 2022 and ’23 seasons, though last year he managed to hit a respectable .290/.380/.355 in 71 trips to the plate while splitting time between second and third base. Stefanic entered the spring likely competing with the likes of Kyren Paris and Livan Soto for a spot on the Angels’ bench to open the year alongside the likes of Aaron Hicks, Matt Thaiss, and Jo Adell. With that being said, the club has been frequently connected to utility man Enrique Hernandez and earlier today was reported as one of four finalists for the 32-year-old’s services. Should the Angels succeed in landing Hernandez, that could crowd the club’s bench mix significantly and potential push Stefanic into a depth role at Triple-A to open the season.
More from around the American League…
- Orioles fans received an encouraging update from GM Mike Elias today regarding right-hander Kyle Bradish, who is rehabbing from a UCL sprain. As noted by Matt Weyrich of the Baltimore Sun, Elias said that while Bradish’s recovery process is “going to take some time,” the club feels that the right-hander’s recovery is “moving in a really positive direction” following the platelet-rich plasma injection he received earlier this month and him resuming his throwing program. Bradish was the club’s ace during his sophomore season in the majors last year, pitching to a sterling 2.83 ERA with a 3.27 FIP across 30 starts. With the righty expected to open the season on the injured list, any time missed by the right-hander is sure to be a blow to the Orioles, though the club’s recent addition of Corbin Burnes should help to mitigate the loss of Bradish.
- Veteran right-hander Carlos Carrasco made his spring debut for the Guardians today, suiting up for the organization for the first time since he was traded to the Mets alongside Francisco Lindor prior to the 2021 season. Carrasco, who turns 37 next month, struggled to a 6.80 ERA in 20 starts with the Mets last year but told Zack Meisel of The Athletic recently that he hopes to continue pitching through his 40th birthday, following in the footsteps of his former Mets teammates Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. While it remains to be seen if Carrasco will be able to recapture the form that allowed him to post a 3.41 ERA and 3.16 FIP in 194 games with Cleveland across his final seven seasons with the club, the Guardians were eager to give him the opportunity to earn a spot with the club this spring; Meisel notes that talks regarding a reunion began back in December, well before the deal was reported near the end of January.