The Angels have reinstated catcher Kurt Suzuki from the COVID-related injury list. Austin Romine was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Suzuki on the active roster, while fellow catcher Matt Thaiss will also remain with Triple-A Salt Lake on option after being activated from the minor league version of the IL.
With both Suzuki and Max Stassi sidelined on the COVID list, the Halos found themselves quite shorthanded behind the plate, leading to Romine and Chad Wallach each getting plenty of action over the last 10 days. Suzuki is returning after a two-week absence, while Stassi hit the IL on May 10 and could himself be close to a return. Angels athletic trainer Mike Frostad told The Athletic’s Sam Blum (Twitter links), and The Southern California Newsgroup’s J.P. Hoornstra that Stassi will likely play two more minor league rehab games before being activated.
The outlook isn’t as positive for Griffin Canning, as Frostad said the right-hander is considering surgery to address a stress reaction in his lower back. No decision has been made, as Canning is meeting with a specialist on Monday and will then opt to go with a surgery or a less-invasive treatment.
It’s worrisome news for Canning, as these back problems have kept him from pitching from July 8, 2021 (when Canning last took the mound at Triple-A). He had worked his way up to the simulated-game stage of his rehab earlier this month, but he continued to feel discomfort after his latest outing. Depending on the type of procedure or how well Canning responds to rehab, it’s possible the entire 2022 season could now be in jeopardy for the 26-year-old.
A second-round pick in the 2017 draft, Canning has appeared in each of the last three seasons, starting 41 of his 43 MLB games and posting a 4.73 ERA over 209 1/3 innings. Even without surgery, it’s hard to figure on when Canning might make his 2022 debut, leaving the Angels short an important depth arm for their six-man rotation. Long a weak spot, the Anaheim rotation has been quite good thus far, but the club also has less margin for error given their need of an extra hurler. With Canning sidelined and Jose Suarez ineffective, that depth has already been tested, the Halos recently promoted Chase Silseth directly from Double-A to the majors.
The Angels entered today’s action with a strong 24-17 record, despite an ongoing four-game losing streak. Last night’s 4-2 loss to the Athletics also saw Taylor Ward leave the game in the ninth inning after colliding with the outfield wall following a catch. Fortunately, Frostad said Ward didn’t suffer a concussion and only had a stinger in his arm after making the play.
Ward isn’t in tonight’s lineup but is only day-to-day, and seems to have avoided any major injury. It has been a dream start for Ward, who leads the majors in all three slash categories (.370/.481/.713) and has hit nine home runs over his first 131 plate appearances.