CLEVELAND — Anthony Rendon took a step toward an improbable return to the Angels’ lineup on Monday.
Rendon took batting practice on the field for the first time since undergoing wrist surgery. Rendon has been fully participating in defensive drills too.
Although he was said to be out for the season after he had surgery in June, he is trying to come back for at least a few games.
“That’s always been the thing, to come back,” Rendon said on Monday. “That’s what I was pushing for the whole time. I’m going to push myself, push myself. I’m going to have them push me, push me. And if it works, we’re going to listen to my body. If it doesn’t feel good, we’ll pull it back. We’re just going to push as much as my body will take.”
If Rendon is now about to come back, it would be a benefit for two reasons.
First, he would be able to go into the winter without being concerned about the injury. Rendon had hip surgery last season and was not back to full strength until well into the winter.
“Trying to get that peace of mind,” Rendon said. “Last year sucked, obviously. To be able to play going into the winter, knowing that I was 100% healthy going into the winter. Then I can have a complete normal offseason.”
The second reason that Rendon and the Angels would like him to be activated is that he can serve the five-game suspension resulting from his part in the Angels’ brawl with the Seattle Mariners back in June.
It is likely that Rendon would have to be activated with more than five games left, so he could play after the suspension. That would prove to Major League Baseball officials that he wasn’t simply being activated to avoid serving the suspension next year.
STILL SWINGING RIGHTY
Andrew Velazquez has four hits, including a home run, in his first nine at-bats as a right-handed hitter against right-handed pitchers, increasing the chances that he abandons switch-hitting entirely.
Velazquez left the door cracked on Monday, saying “there’s still a chance I hit lefty,” but then Manager Phil Nevin said he’s seen enough to believe Velazquez should be all-in as a right-handed hitter.
“I like where it can take him,” Nevin said. “I really do. It’s something that he’s going to continue to work on and we’re just going to keep it on that side for now. It’s been beneficial to him.”
Velazquez has been a switch-hitter for his entire professional career. He’s produced a .536 OPS in the majors and a .740 OPS in the minors.
Both Velazquez’s defense and his speed will become even more valuable next season, because of rule changes to end defensive shifts and encourage more base-stealing. But the Angels need him to hit better.
Velazquez said he’s been having the pitching machine throw him sliders that break away from him to adjust to life as a right-hander facing right-handed pitchers.
“Just looking over there is a little different,” he said. “It’s not as drastic as I thought it was going to be. It’s not terrible. It’s a work in progress.”
Shohei Ohtani, who came out of his last start because of a blister, will start on Saturday against the Mariners in Anaheim.
After that, the Angels have tentatively penciled him in to pitch three more times, on Sept. 23 at Minnesota, Sept. 29 at home against the Oakland A’s and in the season finale on Oct. 5 at Oakland.
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Ohtani has pitched 141 innings, so he needs to throw another 21 innings in his last four games to finish the season qualified for the ERA leaders.
Infielder David Fletcher (right hand contusion) said before Monday’s game he still felt pain when trying to grip a bat. He did some defensive drills, though. He is considered day to day. …
Right-hander Archie Bradley (fractured elbow) came through a bullpen session on Monday with no issues. He said he’s scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday and Sunday. Those outings would be one inning apiece. He would then throw more than one inning for Salt Lake on Sept. 21. Bradley could then be activated when the Angels are in Minnesota.
Angels (LHP José Suarez, 6-6, 3.77) at Guardians (RHP Cody Morris, 0-1, 3.00), Tuesday, 3:10 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM