ANAHEIM — By the time you read this, Jared Walsh might already be on a flight to John Wayne Airport.
Walsh could be set to make his season debut Saturday after a neurological disorder that caused headaches and insomnia sidelined the Angels first baseman at the end of spring training and put him on the injured list in advance of Opening Day.
Walsh was set to play his seventh game for Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday during a highly productive rehab assignment. He was 10 for 20 through his first six games with a home run, five RBIs and seven walks. He also had a .643 on-base percentage and an obscene 1.343 OPS.
The Angels have been as patient as possible with Walsh’s recovery. The 29-year-old worked with specialists in Utah to help an issue that Manager Phil Nevin has described as a “quality-of-life” pursuit.
“Hopefully (his return) is sooner than later, but it will be on Jared’s time,” General Manager Perry Minasian said. “The biggest thing is we’re happy for the other side, right? Sleeping better, he’s healthier and he’s in a good place mentally and physically, obviously. We all know how good of a player he is.”
Walsh played in just 118 games last season because of thoracic outlet syndrome, struggling to a .215 batting average and a .642 OPS with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs. In spring training, he showed that a big season could be ahead by going 14 for 35 (.400) with two home runs and six RBIs in 14 Cactus League games.
Then came his troublesome diagnosis.
Nevin said he spoke to Walsh on Friday morning.
“We brought up coming back (Friday), but he wanted to do the back-to-back and we’re totally fine with that,” Nevin said about Walsh wanting to get the feel of playing in the field on consecutive nights. “In fact, I even mentioned that if you feel good in two or three at-bats, hop out of there, get on a plane and get back here.”
Nevin said that if Walsh does elect to leave his rehab assignment after Friday’s game, he would put him in the starting lineup Saturday against the Minnesota Twins.
The Angels continued their pattern of giving Mike Trout days off in connection with long travel. The All-Star center fielder was not in the starting lineup for Friday’s opener of a nine-game homestand.
It was the fourth time Trout has been held out of the starting lineup this season, including an April 21 home game against the Kansas City Royals that was two days after the Angels took a long flight home from New York. The three-time American League MVP also missed a May 4 game at St. Louis that was the same day as a flight back to the West Coast.
“We’ve had a very difficult schedule early with the amount of games we’ve played in a row (and we’ve had two East Coast trips already,” Minasian said. “We want to win every game, don’t get me wrong, but it’s May and it’s a long season and we have to take care of our guys. Phil and his staff do a great job of that.”
AROUND THE BASES
Third baseman Anthony Rendon continues to get treatment for a groin strain that landed him on the IL on Monday but he still has not started baseball activities. … Left-handed reliever Aaron Loup (hamstring) threw a bullpen session Friday, implementing some mechanical adjustments in an effort to recover from a start that has left him with a 7.00 ERA in 11 appearances. He might face live hitters as early as Monday. … Saturday’s home game against the Twins is scheduled to start at 7:07 p.m. to stay out of the FOX national broadcast window.
Twins (RHP Louie Varland, 1-0, 4.30 ERA) at Angels (LHP Patrick Sandoval, 3-2, 3.22), Saturday, 7:07 p.m. Bally Sports West, 830 AM
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