Angels News: Taylor Ward Wears Season-Ending HBP As ‘Badge Of Honor’
Jul 29, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Los Angeles Angels left fielder Taylor Ward (3) is struck in the head by a pitch from Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah (not shown) in the fifth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been about five weeks since July 29, when Los Angeles Angels outfielder Taylor Ward wore a pitch from Alek Manoah on his face, causing him to crash to the ground, end the night at a hospital and end his 2023 Major League campaign.

Ward is far from the first player to suffer the scary injuries that come with taking a pitch to the face, but frequency does not alleviate the fear of the moment. It took some time before Ward was even able to process what had happened to him. But now, with some time to reflect, he’s able to form a much more lighthearted opinion on the situation.

The Angels outfielder is in the process of working his way back to baseball. Recovering from the physical injuries is the first — and arguably easier — step. He’ll then need to get comfortable stepping back in a batter’s box without the worry that the next pitch is coming straight for him.

But Ward isn’t worried about the mental side of this recovery. Instead, he sees what happened to him as a point of pride, according to Sam Blum of The Athletic:

“I think of this as a badge of honor,” Ward said. “Not something that’s going to be a detriment or something I’m always going to have in the back of my head. It’s just baseball.

“I am on that list now. I guess it’s kinda cool.”

It’s a unique perspective on an objectively terrifying moment for the outfielder who had only in 2022 established himself as a regular big league player. But he is still taking precautions with both his helmet and his mentality.

“(I’ll) try to basically get as comfortable as I can and forget what happened,” said Ward, who hopes that adding a new C-flap to his batting helmet will help allay any lingering fears. “Put that in the back of your mind and let other thoughts take control.”

Ward’s health and well-being comes first and foremost. But assuming an expected clean bill of health, getting Ward back in his strongest form would be a major addition for the Halos. Ward, 29, has become a stable figure in the Angels outfield alongside Mike Trout.

Mickey Moniak showing improvement against lefties

Another potential new outfield cornerstone for the Angels is Mickey Moniak. Moniak, Ward and Trout is a very realistic outfield combination heading into 2024, and it would become an even more dangerous trio if Moniak became more comfortable against left-handed pitching.

A game-tying single in the ninth inning of Monday’s loss to the Baltimore Orioles signaled, to manager Phil Nevin, that things may be turning around for Moniak in that department.

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