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Angels see familiar story from José Quijada in World Baseball Classic

TEMPE, Ariz. — When manager Phil Nevin was watching the USA-Venezuela game on Saturday night, he had an idea what was going to happen.

Angels left-hander José Quijada struck out Kyle Tucker to help Venezuela escape the seventh inning with a lead, leaving the mound on an emotional high. Venezuela then brought Quijada back out for the eighth.

“We’ve seen Q pitch before, and you saw what he did afterward,” Nevin said Sunday, referring to Quijada’s on-field celebration after the strikeout. “Putting him back in the game the next inning was not the best idea.”

Quijada walked two and hit a batter in the eighth, loading the bases just before Trea Turner hit a game-changing grand slam against Silvino Bracho.

Nevin suggested that Quijada has trouble getting back to the same level after such an emotional moment. Last year, Nevin said Quijada tended to be less effective in less electric moments — like pitching in front of a small crowd in Oakland.

Obviously, a big league reliever needs to be reliable in any atmosphere, and Nevin said Quijada is getting there.

“I think he did a better job of it at the end of the season last year,” Nevin said. “Then early this spring a couple games he pitched here, the velocity was up. I like the way he went about his business and he threw well. … I think he’s going to be fine. He’s learning what he needs to do to prepare to get outs when he leaves the bullpen.”

Quijada, 27, had a 3.98 ERA for the Angels last season, throwing almost entirely fastballs. This season he is trying to add more changeups to his repertoire.

EJECTION FOLLOWUP

A day after the first time Ryan Tepera was ever ejected from a spring training game, the Angels right-hander was eager to explain what happened.

Tepera had allowed a pair of runs in the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers, including a Marcus Semien two-run homer. He was walking off the mound when plate umpire Bill Miller approached him to check for foreign substances.

“Obviously frustrated with my outing a little bit,” Tepera said on Sunday. “Give up four hard hit balls and walking off the mound. I get checked. He checks my hand, like most umpires do. I take a couple steps to the dugout and he says, ‘Hey, come back here, son.’ So I’m like ‘What?’

“He proceeds to check my hand again. Check my glove. Like every inch of my glove. Every lace. He put his hand inside of it. And I said ‘Is this necessary?’ And he says, ‘I’m the head chief crew umpire, I can do whatever the (expletive) I want.’  I said ‘Oh, is that right?’ And then he says, ‘Let me see your hat.’ So he checks my hat.

“Then he says, ‘While you’re at it, let me check your belt.’ So I started taking my belt off and he says ‘Son, if you take your belt off, I’m going to throw you out of this game.’ I took my belt off and hand it to him and he tossed me.”

Umpires have been checking pitchers for foreign substances since 2021, but last season they were quick, perfunctory checks only of the pitcher’s hands. Major League Baseball reportedly sent teams a memo this week letting them know the checks would be more thorough this season.

Tepera didn’t appreciate a check, in that manner, at that time.

“It’s being disrespectful honestly, man to man,” Tepera said. “It has nothing to do with me being checked. It’s the way he did it and what he said to me. I’m a grown man. Don’t treat me like a child. That’s my problem with it.”

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FLETCHER RETURNS

David Fletcher was back in the Angels clubhouse on Sunday after playing for Italy in the World Baseball Classic, including a matchup against Shohei Ohtani in Italy’s loss to Japan in the quarterfinals. Fletcher had a hit in two at-bats against Ohtani.

“It was fun facing him,” Fletcher said. “He was definitely competing out there and giving everything he had. He was into it. Getting to be on the other side of him was definitely something that I was kind of looking forward to.”

NOTES

Infielder Brandon Drury was not in the lineup for a second straight day because of a bruised calf. Nevin said that Drury was ready to play, but the manager opted to have him take one more day off. Drury still hit and did defensive drills in the morning. …

Nevin said Patrick Sandoval may not pitch as scheduled next Sunday in the Freeway Series at Dodger Stadium. Nevin said the Angels may decide that Sandoval needs a less intense atmosphere — like a minor league game — in between pitching for Mexico in the semifinals of the WBC on Monday and his first regular season start, on April 2.

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