Saturday, July 13, 2024

Eduardo Escobar debuts with Angels in Denver

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DENVER — Eduardo Escobar capped a whirlwind 24 hours by taking the field as the Angels starting third baseman Saturday night in Colorado.

Acquired from the Mets to solidify an Angels’ roster ravaged by injuries, the veteran infielder was pulled out of New York’s game at Philadelphia in the second inning Friday night and informed by Mets manager Buck Showalter that he had been traded. He booked a car ride back to New York to let his family know, packed some clothes and baseball gear and flew Saturday morning to Denver, joining his new team at Coors Field, where the Angels continued their weekend series against the Rockies.

“I’m ready to go,” Escobar told reporters in a pregame news conference. “So happy to be here. I’m bringing my best energy. I told the manager whatever he has me doing, whatever I’m doing it shall always be at 100 percent.”

Said Angels manager Phil Nevin: “I’ve heard nothing but great things about him. His personality, what he’ll bring to the room, I’m excited to see it.”

Escobar added that he’s excited at the prospect of playing with superstars Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout and the rest of an Angels team that is in the thick of the race for a playoff spot.

“To be around the best players, it’s unbelievable,” said Escobar, who is joining his sixth team over a 13-year career that included a NL All-Star selection in 2021. “I’ve been around a lot of players. But with Trout, Ohtani, it’s different now. I want to respect all the other players I’ve played with — Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter, those guys were really good. But playing with these guys now, for me, it’s just unbelievable.”

Fletcher brought up, Walsh sent down

The addition of Escobar was one of a series of moves the Angels made to begin to fill the injury-caused gaps on a roster depleted by 13 players on the injured list, including nine on the 60-day IL. The team selected the contract of infielder David Fletcher and then optioned infielders Jared Walsh and Michael Stefanic to Triple A Salt Lake City. Catcher Chris Okey was designated for assignment.

Fletcher, who started Saturday night at shortstop, found himself back with the Angels in what has been a rollercoaster season for him. He made the team out of spring training but struggled offensively and was optioned after eight games to Salt Lake City. The team later took him off the 40-man roster by outrighting him while he was at Salt Lake only to now restore him to the team

Fletcher summed up his feelings about being back with the Angels with these simple words: “I’m happy to be here.”

Renfroe gets a try at first base

First base has been one of the most unsettled positions for the Angels this season, and the team tried a new direction on Saturday by giving outfielder Hunter Renfroe his first start of the season at first.

Renfroe is the sixth different player to start a game at first for the Angels. Brandon Drury, Gio Urshela (injured), Jared Walsh, Jake Lamb and Kevin Paldo also have started at the position this season.

Primarily an outfielder, Renfroe has seen some time at first base, though it has been rare. He has played a total of 10 innings at first over his eight-year career heading into Saturday’s game, which marked only his second career start at the position.

Nevin said Renfroe has been practicing at first base during pregame infield work for the past several games and the manager has liked what he has seen.

“This isn’t a position he’s foreign to. He’s played it before,” Nevin said. “Everything I’ve seen, he’s looked really good over there. He looks like a normal first baseman, is the best way I can describe it.”

Nevin said Renfroe’s play at the position would be evaluated for a while before deciding whether he’s the longterm answer at first.

Moore throws simulated game

Reliever Matt Moore, sidelined since late last month because of a right oblique strain, pitched a simulated game earlier Saturday. He played long toss and threw 15 pitches off the mound in a session that both he and Nevin termed just “OK.” Nevin said more recovery time may be needed.

“Is that our last step in this? No,” Nevin said. “I think we realized that today. There’s probably still some hurdles to get over. There’s certain pitches, certain movements he’s making where he’s probably not quite 100 percent. But we’re really close. Just to see him on the mound was a positive.”

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