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    Angels’ Mickey Moniak looks to take advantage of opportunity provided by Mike Trout’s injury
    • May 2, 2024

    CLEVELAND — The door is open for Mickey Moniak.

    When Mike Trout went down with a torn meniscus, Moniak became the Angels’ primary center fielder, at least against right-handed pitchers.

    After struggling in limited playing time for much of the first month, Moniak is going to get an extended chance to show if he can repeat what he did last year.

    “I just didn’t feel my best,” Moniak said, referring to the start of the season, “but over the last week, definitely feel like I’m back where I need to be and ready to go.”

    When Moniak’s thoughts about his progress were relayed to Manager Ron Washington, he smiled.

    “I personally hope what he told you starts to happen,” Washington said. “I want to see him turn the corner. Whatever his vision is, I want to see him meet that. But you’ve all been watching.”

    Washington was suggesting that Moniak isn’t there yet.

    He’s hitting .143 with a .400 OPS in 67 plate appearances. He has 21 strikeouts and four walks.

    Moniak had a single late in Sunday’s blowout loss to snap his 0-for-21 skid, and he had an RBI single on Tuesday, his first start after Trout’s injury.

    When Washington was asked what has to happen for Moniak to become productive, he had a simple answer.

    “Make contact,” Washington said. “He’s not making contact. Use the whole field. Be Mickey. Not that Mickey that hit 14 home runs and thinks he’s a home run hitter. The Mickey who, when he got drafted, he was putting the ball all over the place. And then occasionally he’ll catch a home run.”

    Moniak was drafted No. 1 overall in 2016, out of La Costa Canyon High in Carlsbad. He never found his major league footing with the Philadelphia Phillies, and he was traded to the Angels in July 2022.

    Last season was the first time he got extended playing time in the majors, and he made it count. Moniak hit .280 with 14 home runs and an .802 OPS.

    Amid that, he still struck out 113 times and walked nine times, a combination that raised a giant red flag about the sustainability of his success.

    Moniak, 25, said he’s tried this season to be better with his swing decisions. It’s probably too early to read much into the numbers, but so far Moniak has cut his chase rate from 44% to 26%. The major league average is 22%.

    “I feel like right now I’m swinging at the pitches I should be swinging at,” Moniak said. “I’m just missing them. That’s on me to figure out.”

    Moniak said he is once again focused on hitting the ball the way he did before.

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    “Just trying to hit line drives over the shortstop, up the middle, stuff I’ve done my whole life,” he said. “It’s gotten me where I am.”

    Moniak hit two fly balls to left field on Wednesday, which he said is a good sign. Once he starts barreling more of those, they will be hits instead of outs.

    The prospect of regular playing time means Moniak will get plenty of opportunity to find himself.

    “Right now the focus is to get the timing back,” Moniak said. “The more at-bats I get, the more I can get back to doing what I do best. … The results aren’t there yet, but it’s a long season. We’ll take it month by month and revisit it in October.”


    Angels (RHP José Soriano, 0-4, 4.76 ERA) at Guardians (RHP Tanner Bibbee, 2-0, 3.45 ERA), Friday, 4:10 p.m. PT, Bally Sports West, 830 AM

    ​ Orange County Register