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    Aaron Hicks trying to work his way into everyday role with the Angels
    • March 14, 2024

    TEMPE, Ariz. — When the Angels signed outfielder Aaron Hicks in early February, he created a bit of a stir by telling reporters that he was going to be an everyday player.

    The Angels, it turns out, had never told Hicks or his agent that. Hicks was simply speaking from years of experience and voicing his plan to play his way into that role.

    “If you make yourself feel like you’re a bench player, you’re going to be a bench player,” Hicks said this week. “Obviously, I want to work my way into playing every single day. But, you know, whenever my name is called, I’ll be ready to go.”

    Hicks is doing all he can this spring. Through his first 29 plate appearances, Hicks was 8 for 21 (.381) with eight walks.

    Hicks said he’s been feeling good because he’s still sticking to the mechanical changes the Baltimore Orioles suggested last season, reviving his stalled career.

    Hicks, 34, signed a seven-year, $70 million extension with the New. York Yankees in February 2019. It came on the heels of his best season, when Hicks hit 27 homers with an .833 OPS in 2018.

    Ever since then, though, Hicks had been declining, to the point that the Yankees released him last May, when he was hitting .188. The Yankees still owed Hicks more than $27 million through the 2024 season.

    The Orioles, who had a vacancy because they’d just lost Cedric Mullins to an injury, picked up Hicks, with the Yankees still paying the bulk of his salary.

    Hicks hit .275 with seven homers and an .806 OPS over 236 plate appearances with the Orioles. He had a .381 on-base percentage.

    “When I got to Baltimore, they already had a plan for me,” Hicks said. “They figured out what made me click and had certain drills that got me the results I was getting, and a lot of those are still going today.”

    Part of his value to the Angels is that he’s a switch hitter who has a career .758 OPS against lefties. Last season he had a .970 OPS against lefties. That makes him the perfect platoon partner to go with left-handed hitting Mickey Moniak, if that’s the way the Angels choose to use him.

    Of course, all of that is subject to change. If Hicks, Moniak or Jo Adell gets hot, any of them could work into playing every day.

    “I’m just working hard and trying to make as big a splash in spring training as I possibly can,” Hicks said. “It seems like everybody’s having a good spring. It seems like this whole team is hitting. The vibes are good. The people here are all motivated to start off good and have a good season. That makes me happy, because all I want to do is win. So I’m excited.”


    Angels manager Ron Washington said they are “close to coming to a decision” on an Opening Day starter.

    Although he wouldn’t drop any names, he said “there are a couple of them that are already in line for it.”

    Right-hander Griffin Canning and left-hander Reid Detmers both pitched on Wednesday, which would be perfectly in line to start the March 28 opener in Baltimore. Canning pitched five innings in an intrasquad game and Detmers pitched four in the regular exhibition against the Kansas City Royals. Each allowed one run.

    Left-hander Patrick Sandoval hasn’t been as good as either Canning or Detmers in spring training, but his career track record is the best of the three. He last pitched on Monday. If he pitched next on Sunday — a game for which the Angels haven’t listed a starter — he could easily be worked into a schedule for the opener.


    The Angels essentially have two roster spots still up for grabs, barring injuries in the last two weeks.

    The Angels optioned right-hander Kelvin Cáceres on Thursday, which reduced to four the number of candidates for the final bullpen spot. They will keep one from a group including right-handers Ben Joyce, Hunter Strickland and Guillo Zuñiga and left-hander Drew Pomeranz. They could keep two of those pitchers if Robert Stephenson (shoulder) doesn’t make it back in time, but Stephenson said he believes he can be ready.

    The rest of the bullpen will be right-handers Carlos Estévez, Adam Cimber, José Cisnero and Luis Garcia and left-handers Matt Moore and José Suarez.

    The candidates for the final position player spot are infielders Livan Soto, Ehire Adrianza and Miguel Sanó.

    Strickland, Pomeranz, Adrianza and Sanó would need to be added to the 40-man roster.


    Center fielder Mike Trout and third baseman Anthony Rendon were both scheduled to play in a minor league game on Thursday, the second straight day they got their work outside of the normal Cactus League game.  Washington said both players are expected to be back in the lineup for the big league exhibition game on Friday, when the Angels are back at home. …

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    Shortstop Zach Neto and second baseman Brandon Drury have both been out with illnesses. Neto returned to the ballpark on Thursday and went through a workout. …

    Infielder Michael Stefanic (quad) said running on a treadmill on Wednesday went well, and he was set to run on the field on Thursday. Stefanic is expected to begin the season on the injured list. …

    Infielder Luis Rengifo just started doing Washington’s famed infield drills on Wednesday, having missed a couple weeks of work because of his hamstring injury. “That puts a lot of strain on your legs,” Washington said of the drills, which the infielders do from their knees. “Now, he’s ready to do it.” Washington said that Rengifo won’t complete the progression that the other infielders have done until after the season begins.

    ​ Orange County Register