The Los Angeles Angels are off to a middling start this season with an 11-12 record, and the absence of Jared Walsh at first base is having an impact.
Prior to Opening Day, it was revealed that Walsh had been dealing with bouts of insomnia and headaches and would be away from the club to find a treatment plan to get him on the mend. The Angels have been using Gio Urshela and journeyman Jake Lamb at first base in the interim, a platoon that has been less than stellar.
After missing the first month of the season, the Angels and general manager Perry Minasian believe he’s close to a return, via Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:
“It’s better,” Minasian said of Walsh’s health issues. “Is it perfect yet? No. But it’s definitely better. He’s made some strides. So we’ll continue to work with that. Now incorporate some baseball things. At some point when he’s ready, we’ll send him out to play and see what happens. Jared is a big part of this team. And we know how important he is and what he brings. We’ll be excited to have him back.”
Walsh is now almost two years removed from his most productive season in 2020, but his 126 wRC+ in 2021 remains the best 162-game stretch in his four years in Major League Baseball. The left-handed bat is a piece that the Angels sorely miss considering a grip of their offense is from the right side of the plate.
Lamb was signed on a Minor League deal and has posted a 43 wRC+ in 41 plate appearances, and is clinging to a spot on this roster which is likely to be up once Walsh returns in late April with May being the likeliest of outcomes.
Outlook for Jared Walsh upon return
Walsh underwent surgery to address his thoracic outlet syndrome following the 2022 season, and now with his current condition, he’s been away from live game action at the MLB level for a good bit of time.
But if Spring Training stats are of any value, he tore the cover off of the ball in camp, batting .400/.512/.686 across 35 at-bats with two homers and six RBI. He and the Angels should regain a consistent force in their lineup once he’s cleared.
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