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    Angels’ Mickey Moniak grew up dreaming of playing at Petco Park in San Diego
    • July 4, 2023

    SAN DIEGO — Last year Mickey Moniak nearly got to live out his boyhood dream of playing a game at Petco Park. Instead, he watched a game from the dugout and then left town a few hours later.

    Now, it’s finally going to happen for the Angels outfielder, who grew up about 30 miles north of the ballpark in Encinitas. He said he often came to games here while he was growing up, including the Padres’ first game at Petco.

    Moniak did play at Petco during showcases when he was a prep star at La Costa Canyon High before he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft.

    “It’s going to be special,” said Moniak, who spoke to a few waves of reporters in the Angels’ clubhouse before the first game of the three-game series against the Padres on Monday.

    Last June, Moniak was playing for the Phillies’ Triple-A team when Bryce Harper was hit in the thumb by a pitch on a Saturday night in San Diego. Moniak was summoned for a cross-country flight, arriving at Petco just before the game started. He didn’t get into the Sunday afternoon game, and then was back on a plane to Philadelphia after the game.

    So close.

    “I got to experience it a little bit,” Moniak said.

    Moniak would have played at Petco for the first time as a big leaguer on Monday night if the Padres weren’t starting left-hander Blake Snell. They’ll face right-hander Joe Musgrove on Tuesday.

    Even though Moniak is hitting .307 with nine home runs and a .994 OPS in 119 plate appearances, Manager Phil Nevin still uses him sparingly against lefties.

    Moniak is 0 for 9 this season against lefties and 1 for 33 with 15 strikeouts in his career against them. The only hit was a bunt single. Also, the three times Moniak was injured while batting last season all came against lefties.

    “It is what it is,” Moniak said. “I’ve got full trust in Nev and the front office and the people making the decisions. It’s above my pay grade. I trust in them. I’m just here to play. Whenever my name is in that lineup, I’m ready to go.”


    Shohei Ohtani was named American League Player of the Month for June and the Player of the Week.

    Ohtani hit .394 with 15 homers and an OPS of 1.444 in June, to go with a 3.26 ERA in five starts, with 37 strikeouts in 30⅓ innings.

    It was the third time in Ohtani’s career that he won the monthly honor.

    He has won the weekly award six times. Last week, Ohtani hit .417 with six homers. He gave up one run in 6⅓ innings in his only start.


    Shortstop Zach Neto is aiming to return to action after the All-Star break, but there remain some hurdles he needs to clear in his rehab from a strained oblique.

    “Right after the break, we’re hopeful that I should be back, but that’s if everything goes well,” Neto said. “I’m just crossing my fingers and just hoping to feel good every day.”

    Neto has been out since June 15. He didn’t do any baseball activities until Sunday. He’s now thrown two days in a row. He hit off a tee on Monday.

    “I feel good,” Neto said. “It’s just a matter of getting it out of my head. My body feels good. I’m a little scared. I don’t want to get hurt again. But after a couple swings, after a couple of throws, I get back into competitive mode. It’s normal. So I just need to start feeling like that more.”


    Catcher Logan O’Hoppe (shoulder surgery) is scheduled to begin taking dry swings on Tuesday, which will be 10 weeks since his surgery. O’Hoppe can also start catching the ball when he’s playing catch, instead of having a trainer catch for him. The best-case scenario for O’Hoppe would be a return to the lineup in late August. …

    Nevin had said last weekend that he didn’t plan to use a strict platoon with first baseman Mike Moustakas, but he nonetheless benched him against Snell on Monday. “This one’s a different lefty than most,” Nevin said. “He just is.” Over his career, Snell has held lefties to a .594 OPS, although they’ve produced a .777 OPS against him this year. Nevin said he considered playing switch-hitter Eduardo Escobar at first and Hunter Renfroe in right field, but Escobar had not played first in a few years. He started Renfroe at first and Luis Rengifo in right field. …

    A visit to San Diego also has special meaning for Nevin, who enjoyed his best major league seasons with the Padres from 1999 to 2004. He said he’d only been back to Petco a few times as a coach, and he’d obviously never managed a game in San Diego before. “It’s special being here,” Nevin said. “A lot of great memories for me.”


    Angels (RHP Shohei Ohtani, 7-3, 3.02 ERA) at Padres (RHP Joe Musgrove, 6-2, 3.80), Tuesday, 3:40 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM

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    ​ Orange County Register