ANAHEIM ― Jo Adell said Sunday that he’s taking a more situational approach at the plate lately.
The results have followed for the Angels’ outfield prodigy.
Adell, 22, saw his batting average fall to a season-low .194 on Aug. 21. Since then he is batting .311 in a small sample size (45 plate appearances) while cutting his strikeout rate in half. The two home runs he hit Sunday against Texas Rangers left-hander Taylor Hearn were his second and third of the season.
Adell had hit only one home run this season prior to Sunday, back on Aug. 17. To hear him tell it, he was in no hurry to hit another.
“I think the approach of trying to figure out the best way to win has helped me,” Adell said. “Today I was able to get off two swings and do damage, but I would’ve been just as happy hitting a couple line drives and getting on base because I know my speed can play.”
Critically, Adell recognized that not all contact is good contact. He and manager Joe Maddon lamented some of the pitches Adell has hit into foul territory recently.
“He does a pretty good job of not chasing a whole lot,” Maddon said. “That’s part of his DNA, which is good. Today and moving forward, if you see your pitch … it’s got to go forward. It cannot be taken or fouled off with any kind of regularity, and I thought that’s what he did today: he moved the ball forward.”
“In my own head, dumber’s better,” Adell said. “The ball gets on you so quickly, you really don’t have a whole lot of time to develop too advanced of a plan mid-pitch. I go up, I see what a guy’s got and I say ‘hey, what pitches am I going to hit well’ and try stick to that approach. Just be an athlete. Try to make contact, try to hit something forward, hard, and see what happens.”
The Angels placed left fielder Justin Upton on the 10-day injured list with a right lumbar strain. It’s the second time this season Upton has been placed on the IL with a back issue; he missed 21 games between June and July with a lower back injury.
Even recently, Upton was playing at less than 100 percent health, Maddon said. Upton had an .816 on-base plus slugging percentage on June 22, the first time he was placed on IL. In 26 games since returning he had a .446 OPS.
Kean Wong was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to take Upton’s roster spot.
The primary beneficiary of the injury might be Juan Lagares. The veteran had been splitting time with Upton in left field and with Jo Adell in right. Sunday, Lagares got the start in right field, Adell moved to left field, and Brandon Marsh occupied his customary start in center.
In an outfield without Mike Trout, that trio figures to comprise the Angels’ outfield until Upton returns ― something that could happen before the regular season ends.
“He tried (to play Saturday) and this just popped up on him,” Maddon said of Upton. “Play it out, see where it takes us the next 10 days and make an evaluation.”
Wong is the other clear beneficiary of Upton’s injury. This is his eighth separate stint with the Angels since his contract was originally selected from Salt Lake on May 29.
Although Wong is unlikely to start much if at all, he’s at least less likely now to be punching a ticket back to Utah. This is the first time Wong has been recalled since rosters expanded from 26 to 28.
“He knew he was in this position,” Maddon said of Wong. “A guy that’s in this position is subject to these kind of back and forths. … He’s such a professional he’ll take it either way and I know he’ll be ready either way.”
SHAKY GLOVE, WILL TRAVEL
Luis Rengifo’s throwing error on a routine ground ball in the third inning Sunday led to four unearned runs and continued a string of struggles in the field for the 24-year-old.
Rengifo has played 105 major league innings ― almost 12 full games ― at shortstop and committed five errors. Rengifo committed five errors in a 12-game cameo at third base earlier this season. He’s also seen time in left and right field with unspectacular results.
Yet Maddon said he will continue to use Rengifo at positions other than second base, where he’s most adept, over the season’s final month.
“I want to see him at shortstop,” Maddon said. “We want to see him at shortstop. He made some really nice plays today. Of course the one hurt. That’s one we just have to eliminate. … We’ll stay with it, keep trying to clean it up a bit. Of course that was a big play. Can’t deny that. Overall I thought he played a pretty good game.”
When he entered the game in the seventh inning Sunday, Kyle Tyler set an Angels record by becoming the 61st different player to appear in a game this season. … Although it hasn’t been officially announced, Maddon said Packy Naughton has been discussed as the starter for Tuesday’s game in San Diego opposite Yu Darvish. … Shohei Ohtani stole his 23rd base of the season Sunday, achieving the 14th season ever of 43 home runs and 23 stolen bases.
Angels RHP Jaime Barría (2-2, 5.40 ERA) vs. Texas RHP A.J. Alexy (1-0, 0.00 ERA), 6 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM