Right-handed pitcher Jake Faria is still battling for one of the Los Angeles Angels final bullpen spots heading into the final week of Spring Training. It’s unclear whether or not he’ll make it, but he has already made a lifetime of memories in the month of March.
Faria grew up just five minutes from Angel Stadium, where his family held season tickets for about five seasons. He attended Gahr High School in Cerritos, making him a true Orange County local. Now, he has a legitimate shot to make the opening day 26-man roster, especially after injuries to Aaron Slegers and Felix Pena.
Regardless of what happens with opening day status, Faria has been ecstatic to be a part of the Angels organization. He called it a surreal feeling, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“It’s been almost surreal,” Faria said via Zoom on Tuesday. “I don’t know if it’s really hit me yet, just because I think I’ve just gotten kind of used to it at this point, just putting on the Spring Training jersey and stuff. I’ve just tried to focus so much on baseball, so I don’t think it’s hit me fully yet. I think the [Freeway Series], being at the ballpark and in the clubhouse, it’ll probably hit me harder at that point.”
Not only does he have familiarity with the Angels, he also has a history with manager Joe Maddon, as they spent time together on the Tampa Bay Rays in the early 2010’s. Maddon spoke about Faria’s work this spring and their time together in Florida:
“I’ve known him for a bit,” Maddon said. “Right now, overall, he’s probably be the first to admit his fastball command hasn’t been exactly where he wants it to be. He has really good offspeed stuff. Overall, I just think it’s been somewhat inconsistent, but I do like his history and his pitches. They do play up and he’s got really good makeup. There’s a lot to like, it’s just a matter of him getting all this together.”
While Maddon didn’t make any guarantees about making the 26-man roster, he was relatively complementary of the 27-year old pitcher. For Faria, getting a chance to pitch in the major leagues for the Angels would clearly be a dream come true.
This Spring, Faria has pitched 9.1 innings. In that time, he has impressed with an ERA of 2.89, allowing three runs, five hits, and six walks while striking out eight batters.
Injury bug hits Angels early
Beyond just the minor injuries to Pena and Slegers, two players that are likely ahead of Faria on the depth chart, the Angels are seeing injuries in other parts of the field as well. Infield utility man Franklin Barreto has been shut down for 4-6 weeks with elbow inflammation.
That injury should allow Luis Rengifo to make the opening day roster with ease.