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Angels notes: Aaron Slegers on the mend, Chris Rodriguez in the bullpen?

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Thoughts on the Angels bullpen

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Los Angeles Angels Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Angels got relatively good news on 6’10 right-hander Aaron Slegers, who was scratched from a scheduled relief appearance on Thursday with back tightness.

“He’s better today. He’s feeling pretty good, actually,” manager Joe Maddon said on a Zoom call Friday morning. “How does that transcribe to getting him on the mound? I’m not sure yet.”

Slegers hasn’t pitched in a Cactus League game since March 4, but Maddon said he wouldn’t yet rule him out for a spot on the opening day roster.

“Let’s give it a brief period of time forward from here and see where he’s at,” Maddon said. “Being a relief pitcher is different than being a starter.”

The 28-year-old Slegers was acquired from the Rays on February 9. He had a 3.46 ERA and 3.04 FIP in 11 appearances with Tampa Bay last season, with 19 strikeouts and five walks in 26 innings.

Dylan Bundy starts on the mound in Friday’s nine-inning game, and scheduled to pitch after him are Raisel Iglesias, Mike Mayers, Chris Rodriguez, and Jesse Chavez.

Given the various injuries in camp — Felix Peña is out with a hamstring injury, Slegers had a setback, Luke Bard had a hip issue and hasn’t pitched in a game since March 4 — and that Jose Quijada hasn’t yet reported to camp, the Angels are at least open to considering Rodriguez, who didn’t pitch in 2018 and threw only 9⅓ innings in 2019, for a possible bullpen spot, even though he is a starter.

“I think if you were going to take somebody like that, you’d have to be prepared to be really kind of frugal in between starts, or his appearances, to make sure that he does have time to recover,” Maddon said. “You can’t get greedy like that if you were to take him.”

Maddon also mentioned lefty Reid Detmers, last year’s first-round draft pick out of Louisville, as someone at least under consideration for a roster spot. And Patrick Sandoval, who the club sees as a starter, isn’t being ruled out as a reliever, either.

Lineup

Max Stassi is behind the plate, as he was for six of Bundy’s 11 starts in 2020. But that is more of a coincidence and not planned, Maddon said. The Angels have been slow-playing Stassi after offseason hip surgery, and this is just his third game behind the plate this spring.

Game info

Teams: Angels at Royals

Location: Surprise Stadium

Time: 1:05 p.m. PT

TV: Fox Sports West