by Stu Matthews, Angels Nation managing editor
Like a skeleton crew of pirates who had been left on an island as the pirate captain sailed off for bigger bounty, what was left of the Angels’ spring training squad didn’t have much of a chance Saturday in their Arizona Cactus League farewell.
The Halos fell meekly 2-0 to former Cy Young winner Blake Snell and the San Diego Padres.
Only big-bearded top prospect Brandon Marsh and left fielder Justin Upton managed to get hits.
It was the finale for the Halos at Tempe Diablo Stadium. The stragglers who played Saturday broke camp and they’ll rejoin the team Sunday at the Big A in Anaheim to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers as the annual Freeway Series commences.
The three games against the Dodgers will be the last of the spring calendar.
The Angels take on the Chicago White Sox on April 1 on Opening Day and the 2021 season commences for real.
Angels manager Joe Maddon said his team is ready for big things: “We’re trying to put together a team that has a chance to go deeply into the playoffs and get to the World Series this year.”
So, the Dodgers next … then hard-nosed Dylan Bundy will take on the White Sox on Opening Day with a full lineup, including stars Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Shohei Ohtani … and ..
The ‘Brief Breakdown’:
Pitching: Jaime Barria, who learned this week that he has a fourth option year, pitched well, throwing two scoreless innings. Considered the Angels’ “seventh” or emergency starter, Barria probably will open the season in the bullpen, or he could be sent down to stay stretched out as a starter …
Big Aaron Slegers, who has been fighting muscle spasms in his back, finally got some innings. The 6-foot-10 righty, a former Twins and Rays swingman, pitched 1.2 innings, giving up a single and no runs. He’s yet to allow a run over five innings …
Junior Guerra was charged with the only two runs of the game, although both of them came in on a double by Jorge Mateo off Angels reliever Alex Claudio.
Batters: Justin Upton was one of the only Angels regulars in the game, and he kept up his hot hitting. He had an opposite-field double down the right field and scampered to third on an error by Padre right fielder Tucupita Marcano. Upton has four homers and is one of the Angels top hitters with a spring average of .378 and a 1.236 OPS. …
Marsh, who made his first start in center field of the spring, had a single in the seventh, but he was also caught stealing in the third when Snell picked him off and threw to shortstop, hanging Marsh in a pickle.
Talking points: While Snell and Padres relievers Craig Stammen and Keone Kela muzzled the Angels offense, the Angels did flash some leather in the outfield.
Marsh and right fielder Jo Adell are the Angels top two position player prospects, and they showed how well they work together in the outfield. Both are ticketed for Triple-A Salt Lake but it’s likely both will be in Angels uniforms in the bigs later in 2021 season.
Marsh had been having problems with his right shoulder, limiting his throwing, so he had seen limited time this spring, mostly as a DH. But he but a nice catch on the warning track in this game.
His communication with Adell was also key on this play:
Jo Adell got a good jump and made a really nice diving play in right field. pic.twitter.com/gmzexIEuSo
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) March 27, 2021
Marsh was shouting to Adell that he would be backing up Adell on the play, allowing the athletic Adell to spring all-out going to his right to make the catch.
Although his defense had been a sticking point and one of the reasons the Angels were committed to having Adell start the season in Triple-A, Maddon said Adell was comfortable with the plan.
“He’s in a real good place,” Maddon said. “He’s got a great plan and he knows exactly what he has to work on.”
Having a solid partnership with Marsh in center field at Salt Lake will only help Adell’s defensive progress.
On Sunday: When the Freeway Series comes, with the Angels and Dodgers squaring off at the Big A and Dodger Stadium, you know that Opening Day is right around the corner. The Angels and Dodgers face off at the Angels Stadium at 6:07 PST, with Andrew Heaney (0-1, 6.28 ERA) taking the mound for the Halos. Left-hander David Price (1-0, 2.70 ERA)