by Stu Matthews, Angels Nation managing editor
Halos skipper Joe Maddon has a bit of a saying about spring training wins: Even though they’re exhibition baseball and the games don’t really count, a win in a spring training game means you’re doing things right.
Of course, the flip side is true, too. Although Joe doesn’t talk much about that.
But Joe and the Angels got plenty of the “doing things wrong” right on Saturday at Tempe Diablo Stadium, where the visiting Oakland Athletics jumped off the bus swinging the bats, scored runs in all of the first four innings, and piled up an 11-2 rout of the Angels.
So, good thing this one didn’t count, although the Angels stand a healthy 10-7, tied for fourth place in the Cactus League.
But Jaime Barria, the reliable right-hander from Panamanian the Angels know so well, had a rough afternoon on Saturday.
Barria isn’t being counted upon to be a member of the six-man rotation out of the gate (those spots are locked down by Dylan Bundy, Shohei Ohtani, Andrew Heaney, Jose Quintana, Alex Cobb and Griffin Canning).
But he would be the “next man up” to be inserted into the rotation if an injury occurred. So the Angels need him to be able to work as a swingman, as well.
Barria said he felt good physically coming out of his start. “Physically, I felt fine,” Barria said. “I made a couple errors with my pitches, but I’m not too worried about it. I’ll remember that going into the season.”
Barria allowed four runs on five hits against the A’s. He allowed homers to Chad Pinder and Matt Olson and ultimately gave up four runs on five hits over three innings.
Barria is a cog in the Angels’ plans, regardless what happens with his roster spot. Due to technicalities about service time during 2020, it’s unknown whether Barria is out of minor league options now or whether he’ll be granted another option year.
If it’s determined that Barria is out of options, the Angels would add him to the roster as a reliever. If he has another option, the club could send him to the alternative training site to have him stretched out as a starting pitcher. “My whole mentality is to try to help the team out, if they want to use me as a starter or in the bullpen,” Barria said.
The ‘Brief Breakdown’:
Pitching: Beyond Barria, things didn’t get much prettier on the mound for the Angels. Soft-tossing lefty Alex Claudio, who has been reliable so far this spring, relieved Barria, pitched an inning, and gave up a pair of runs.
Junior Guerra, who is practically guaranteed a spot in the bullpen by being added to the 40-man roster this week, was next and he really got cuffed around, giving up four runs in 1.2 innings.
Jake Faria, who has allowed only two runs in eight innings so far, threw another scoreless inning and his stock is improving to make the Opening Day roster.
Batters: The Angels’ batting lines in this one were just about as bleak as the pitching. Leadoff man David Fletcher was the only Angel with multiple hits. Both were singles on outside pitches that Fletcher masterfully flicked the opposite way into right field — much like 1980s Angels hitting maestro Rod Carew.
Talking points: It should be a fun one tomorrow, Angels fans. Tune in as Shohei Ohtani takes on Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres.
On Sunday: The Angels hit the road for a game against the San Diego Padres at the Peoria Sports Complex. Shohei Ohtani (0-1) goes for the Angels while Blake Snell takes the mound for the Padres.