Many thanks to Abe Flores for taking the time to talk to Halos Heaven. Also, thanks to Ryan Cavinder in the Angels' media relations office for making this happen. Below is an update on most of the Halos' injured prospects. Stay tuned for more from the interview, including Flores' explanation of the organization's philosophy on plate discipline, depth at third base, and depth in the bullpen, which I will publish in the next few days.
HH: Do you have an ETA on Randal Grichuk?
ABE FLORES - Randal will probably be back the early part of August.
HH: So more on the six week end of the initial estimate than the four week end.
ABE FLORES - Yeah, because basically, OK: thumb, baseball shape, a couple of rehab games, and when you're done with all that, Cedar Rapids. We're talking about August. It's almost like starting over, it's like he's got to do a mini spring training to get back into competitive shape.
HH: Do you think that means he repeats the Midwest League next year?
ABE FLORES - We'll address that as we see how he gets through the rest of the season and instructional league.
HH: How about the other injured players, like Anthony Ortega. How's he doing?
ABE FLORES - Fine. He continues to progress with his throwing program in extended spring training. I don't have an ETA with him. It's been a very slow process. It's been a couple of years now that he's been injured. He wants to get out there, we want him to be out there. But you have to be patient: you don't want him to have a setback because we're trying to rush his rehab program. Right now, he's just progressing at his pace.
HH: How is Dillon Baird's wrist doing?
ABE FLORES - It was a fracture from a pitched ball on his right hand, so we'll keep our fingers crossed, probably mid-June, late-June [he'll return].
HH: That seems like a really common injury. Do you think that kind of injury afflicts the Angels more than it does other clubs, or is that just part of the game?
ABE FLORES - It's just one of those things you can't quite control, because it was a pitched ball by an opposing pitcher that hit him in the hand. We're not rampant with hitters hurt with pitched balls, but it happens.
HH: How about Mason Tobin? How's his elbow?
ABE FLORES - Good. Fine. He's another guy who's starting his throwing progression. You may see him at the very end of this season, but we're not quite sure. We'll see.
HH: And Luis Jimenez. Is he going to play every day now? Is his shoulder past the point where you're seeing red flags?
ABE FLORES - Past the point of red flags, but still precautionary. Because of that shoulder injury, all the way through this first half we'll give him days [at DH] to get some rest. We're just being a little overly conservative, just to make sure he doesn't have to miss any games. Even when he's not playing third base, he's getting his at bats.
HH: How about Ryan Chaffee. He's another guy who's back, but do you think that there are any shoulder issues behind his recent erratic performance?
ABE FLORES - You know what, it's not been about a shoulder issue. It's been more of a focus issue with him, so he's got to control his emotions as the game starts, which will allow him to repeat and throw strikes. He can get kind of wrapped up, and it effects his command.
HH: Is he still changing his arm slot?
ABE FLORES - No. One arm slot, a higher slot. Three quarters.
HH: He had a few different variations of the breaking ball. Does going to one arm slot whittle down his arsenal significantly? What's he throwing now?
ABE FLORES - He's a fastball, slider guy. It's a good slider, he can show plus action on it, it can be a potential out pitch for him. For him it's also about repeating his delivery, keeping his poise, and throwing strikes. There's some growing pains there with him. But he does not lack ability, or athletic ability, or arm strength, or physicality.
HH: Do you think that higher arm slot is going to effect his ability to rack up ground balls?
ABE FLORES - That's something we'll continue to monitor. We'll see. The groundballs will be a byproduct of him throwing strikes down in the strikezone, and getting good action on the ball down. If he leaves the ball up, he's not going to get any groundballs.
HH: Jordan Walden. How's he doing? How's his health?
ABE FLORES - Good. Just getting innings, getting his work. The velocity is there. Breaking ball is on the come. He just needs more outings, more patience. Power arm. He has the makings of a back end of the bullpen kind of guy. The ingredients are all there, it just hasn't yet all fallen into place for him. It will just take some time.
HH: How about Freddy Sandoval? How's his elbow?
ABE FLORES - It's slow. It's a slow progression with him. It was an unfortunate incident where he strained his elbow, but we'll just be patient and monitor that situation. We don't have an ETA for him. We hope he'll be coming back before the end of the season, that's for sure. We could always use him, he provides major league depth, and we'll continue to see how he progresses. We have to be cautious and slow with that one.
HH: Is he a candidate for Tommy John surgery?
ABE FLORES - No, he's not. Not as we speak, no.