Angels News: Eppler Confident Despite Club’s Slow Start
Billy Eppler
Angels general manager Billy Eppler. Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Angels general manager Billy Eppler is looking forward to the trade deadline, which is slightly more than two weeks away on August 31.

But in this shortened season, Eppler said he’s confident that the Angels can still contend, especially after seeing the team take two out of three against the first-place Oakland A’s earlier this week.

“This is a very talented roster, with very talented players,” Eppler told the OC Register. “If you look at the different units — position players, starters and reliever — there have been times where each unit has carried the club, and some other times where some units have not had a good couple games.

“We’re waiting for all those to sync at the right time. I think we saw that this week. Our expectation is that gets more commonplace.”

Before Friday’s game against the visiting Dodgers, who shuttled by bus to Angels Stadium rather than staying in a hotel, Angels manager Joe Maddon said he’d like to see his team sharpen up on the mound and with the gloves.

“Those are two areas that I’m into,” Maddon said. “I think the offense will take care of itself. I’d like to see the pitching and defense trending in the right direction and I think the offense will remain the status quo, which would be perfect.”

Simmons still not close to return, Bedrosian making progress: The Angels still have yet to feature the left side of the infield that they envisioned after signing All-Star third baseman Anthony Rendon as a free agent in the offseason.

Rendon missed the first four games of the season nursing an oblique injury. Simmons, meanwhile, injured his ankle lunging for first base while trying to beat out a hit on July 27.

When Rendon returned, Simmons was already on the shelf, and the infielders haven’t played in the same game together through the first 20 games of the season.

Simmons is slower to return than Maddon, who had hoped to have the shortstop back for the Freeway Series, would like. Simmons’ ankle is still sore although he is participating in workouts at the Angels’ alternate facility in Long Beach.

“I don’t think he’ll be ready this weekend,” Maddon said. “So we’ll see how it works out in the next week, but he’s still sore, which you would have expected from the injury he had.”

Reliever Cam Bedrosian, who is recovering from an adductor strain, has been playing catch but Maddon said there is still no timetable for Bedrosian to see action.

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