KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The All-Star break has worked out so far for Jared Walsh.
“I think the time off was really beneficial,” the Angels first baseman said. “Just kind of reset. For myself and the team, I don’t think it was a great first half. So try to really separate from it.”
In his first four games after the All-Star break, Walsh is 7 for 17 with five doubles. He had been in a 3-for-40 slump right before the break.
Walsh has endured a disappointing season on the heels of his breakthrough All-Star year in 2021, when he hit 29 home runs with an .850 OPS. This season he has 13 homers with a .714 OPS.
“All I’ve really been trying to do is elevate the ball a little bit more,” Walsh said. “Even early in the year when I was putting it into play, I thought the exit velos were OK. It was just everything was on the ground. So how do I give myself more of a chance to maybe hit an extra-base hit here?”
Walsh’s average launch angle this season has been 9.6 degrees, compared with the major league average of 12.1 degrees.
Surprisingly, Walsh was below average in terms of launch angle last year (7.8 degrees), yet somehow he found a way to make it work.
Another issue has been his aggressiveness at the plate. Walsh said he’s tried to swing more since the break.
“Trying to pull the trigger a little more,” Walsh said. “I want to make sure they can’t buzz a strike in there whenever they want.”
Walsh led off the sixth inning with a double in a scoreless game on Monday night, and then Luis Rengifo took it upon himself to drop down a bunt.
Manager Phil Nevin chose his words carefully as he analyzed that decision a day later. Nevin appreciated that Rengifo was thinking about the team, but suggested that was perhaps not the best time to give himself up.
Rengifo has been the Angels’ best hitter in July, and he’s even better from the right side of the plate, as he was in that spot.
“I like the way Luis is swinging the bat, absolutely,” Nevin said. “You can still get a guy over by swinging. To me, you get three shots at driving that guy in.”
Rengifo bunted the ball right back to the mound. Walsh was thrown out at third. Max Stassi then hit into a double play.
“I’m not going to sit here and say I hated the fact that he bunted,” Nevin said. “I liked the way he was thinking along with the game.”
Infielder David Fletcher was scheduled to play for Salt Lake on Tuesday and Wednesday nights – coincidentally against his younger brother Dominic’s Reno team. After that, he is expected to be activated, although the Angels could decide to give him one day off and put him back in the lineup on Friday.
Nevin said he’s still not sure if Fletcher will play shortstop or second base when he comes back.
“I think he’s going to play a little of both,” Nevin said. “I’ve got a lot of options with that one.”
If Nevin wants better defense, he could go with Andrew Velazquez at shortstop and Fletcher at second. If he wants better offense, he’d go with Fletcher at shortstop and Rengifo at second.
Shohei Ohtani had a bruise on his leg from a foul ball on Monday, but the two-way star was still well enough to play Tuesday and he will pitch on Thursday night, Nevin said. …
Center fielder Mike Trout is still not swinging a bat, even in the cage. He has a strained rib cage, and the Angels are unsure when he’ll be back.
Angels (RHP Janson Junk, 0-0, 0.00) at Royals (RHP Brad Keller, 5-10, 4.16), Wednesday, 11:10 a.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM