ANAHEIM — After Perry Minasian recalled David Fletcher from his 75-day exile to Triple-A, the Angels’ general manager said he had seen what he wanted to see from the infielder.
“He looked like Fletch,” Minasian said this week. “The way he was moving around. The way he was swinging the bat, using the entire field. He made some adjustments. I thought he looked more and more like the old Fletch.”
All of that came as a surprise to Fletcher, who shrugged off questions about why he went down and what he had to do to return.
“I didn’t change anything,” Fletcher said on Wednesday.
Fletcher, who was recalled on Saturday, said he tried to keep a good attitude during his stay with Salt Lake.
“Honestly, I was just focusing on where I was,” Fletcher said. “I had a lot of good teammates there and a good environment. I honestly can say I was focused on where I was, and whatever happened I’d deal with it when it happened. I’m pretty good at just being in the present.”
Fletcher, 29, was sent to Triple-A and outrighted off the 40-man roster in April, despite his five-year, $26 million contract.
The Angels were looking for more offense and better defense when they called up Zach Neto from Double-A. Fletcher had been at his best from 2018-20, when he hit .292 with a .732 OPS. In 2021, he was hitting .309 with a .726 OPS through Aug. 7, but then he finished the season hitting .161 over the final 51 games. Last season was a wash because of injuries, including surgery to repair a sports hernia. Then he only got 16 at-bats in eight games before the Angels pulled the plug this season.
Fletcher hit .303 with a .909 OPS in 43 games at Triple-A. He might have been recalled when Neto injured his oblique on June 14, but that was just two days after Fletcher’s 60-year-old father died. He had not been sick, so the loss was unexpected.
“He had a personal thing that happened or he would have been up earlier,” Minasian said.
Fletcher missed a week on the bereavement list, then he played for a few days at Salt Lake before finally getting the call.
The Angels won three of the first four games he played. He contributed a homer and four hits to their 25-1 rout of the Colorado Rockies on Saturday in Denver, and he made a key defensive play in Tuesday’s win against the Chicago White Sox. Playing shortstop, Fletcher dove to his right and threw to third to get a force.
“He’s somebody that we need,” Minasian said. “We need him to be a good player and help us win games.”
Shohei Ohtani, who came out of Tuesday’s start with a broken fingernail on his middle finger, is still scheduled to make his next start on Monday in San Diego, which would be his normal schedule.
Manager Phil Nevin said the Angels could push him back a day or two “just to make sure. That’s not even on our radar yet. I think he’s going to be OK for that start.”
Whenever Ohtani starts in San Diego, that would be his final start before the All-Star break. If he then starts the first game after the break, he would have 10 days rest between starts.
Third baseman Anthony Rendon (bruised wrist) continues to make progress toward a return. Nevin said the Angels began discussing on Wednesday whether Rendon will have a rehab assignment or just face minor league pitchers at Angel Stadium. “We think it’s close,” Nevin said. …
Neto (strained oblique) said he hoped to begin baseball activity on Friday, but Nevin said that might have been too optimistic. “He might have gotten a little bit ahead of himself,” Nevin said. “I know he’s excited to get out there and he feels good, but with this injury you got to be sure because a setback with this injury is usually another month.” …
Right-hander Ben Joyce (ulnar neuritis) has thrown three days in a row. Nevin said the Angels have to “dial him back a little bit before he ramps,” but he added that “the ramp-up will be pretty quick now that he’s feeling better.” …
Outfielder Mickey Moniak was not in the lineup, even though the Angels were facing a right-hander on Wednesday. Nevin said Moniak’s hip was still “a little sore and I wanted to give him a day.” Moniak was hurt on Saturday. He played through the injury on Monday and Tuesday. “He can play through it, but it’s better to get out in front of it,” Nevin said. …
Nevin said he’s not planning on a strict platoon with left-handed hitting first baseman Mike Moustakas. “He’s always hit lefties his whole career,” Nevin said. “I could see him starting against a lefty here and there.” Moustakas had an .805 OPS against lefties and a .796 OPS against lefties going into Wednesday’s game. …
Right-handers Chris Devenski and Sam Bachman went to Children’s Hospital of Orange County on Tuesday, and then both players shaved their heads as a show of support for kids undergoing cancer treatments. “Just to show them that we’re thinking of them,” Devenski said. Devenski also had the kids sign his arm, and he pitched on Tuesday night with the names written on his arm. “We were signing stuff for them, and I wanted to do something for them to make them feel special, because they are special as well,” Devenski said. …
The Angels had a celebration for infielder Eduardo Escobar after Tuesday’s game. Escobar had passed his test to earn his United States citizenship earlier on Tuesday. “It was a special moment for him,” Nevin said. “It was fun. A welcome not just to our country, but to our team.”
White Sox (RHP Lance Lynn, 4-8, 6.51 ERA) at Angels (LHP Patrick Sandoval, 4-6, 4.16 ERA), Thursday, 1:07 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM