Angels Injury Update: Robert Stephenson Likely To Begin 2024 Season On Injured List
MLB: Los Angeles Angels-Media Day
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels shelled out a rare three-year contract to a relief pitcher this offseason when they landed right-handed pitcher Robert Stephenson for $33 million. Stephenson was one of the best relievers on the market, and Arte Moreno and company made it a point that fixing the bullpen was the team’s major focus in the offseason. They rebuilt it from scratch with Stephenson as the marquee signing.

But with Spring Training underway and Opening Day of the 2024 season coming in one month, there is already doubt about Stephenson’s availability. The former Tampa Bay Rays reliever is dealing with shoulder soreness and is behind schedule as camp begins. The next question becomes if he’ll be able to return to make the Opening Day roster.

That status is in doubt four weeks ahead of Opening Day, as Stephenson simply doesn’t believe there will be enough time for him to have a proper ramp-up to bullpen availability, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:

Right-hander Robert Stephenson (shoulder) said he “felt good” after playing catch Wednesday. He said he’s not too concerned about the injury, but still might have to start the season on the injured list simply because he’d run out of time. “At this point, getting in enough games to be ready for opening day will be a little bit of a challenge,” Stephenson said. “I feel comfortable being in games before the end of the spring. It’s just a matter of if the workload is built up enough or not.”

It would certainly be a blow for the Angels to have their top set-up man out at the start of the season. He’s the team’s highest-paid reliever and second-highest paid pitcher and figures to be crucial in how the Angels approach games this season. In Ron Washington’s ideal world, Stephenson would likely take high-leverage eighth innings to Carlos Estévez’s ninth.

Hopefully, Stephenson finds his way toward a quick return, even if he has to begin the season on the 10-day IL.

Luis Rengifo’s hamstring issue not seen as serious for Angels

Luis Rengifo, the Halos utility infielder, is coming off of his best season as a pro. He finished 2023 with a .783 OPS and 111 OPS+, hitting 16 home runs, 15 doubles and four triples. He spent time primarily as a second baseman, but also saw innings at third base, shortstop and in the outfield. He figures to be the Angels second baseman in 2024 next to Zach Neto, Nolan Schanuel and Anthony Rendon with Brandon Drury serving as a backup utilityman.

But Rengifo is the first Angels player to suffer some sort of injury in Spring Training, as he is now dealing with a hamstring issue that could remove him from the lineup for a little bit:

Manager Ron Washington seems confident that Rengifo will be ready for Opening Day.

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