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Chris Rodriguez gets the call to the Angels

GM Perry Minasian on Angels RHP: “We’re excited for his future. He’s got a chance to be a big piece here.”

Cleveland Indians v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Chris Rodriguez got the news that he made the Angels opening day roster when the team was in Anaheim over the weekend. The 22-year-old right-hander couldn’t help but being emotional when he called his parents.

“My dad is very old school, and just screamed ‘Hoo yah.’ They were super excited, screaming for me,” Rodriguez said on a Zoom call Tuesday. “Once I heard that, I couldn’t hold it in. I started crying. I held my tears in for Joe [Maddon], and didn’t cry in front of him or Matt [Wise, pitching coach]. But once I heard my parents’ voices, it just all came out so quick.

“Last time I stayed at the hotel here [in Orange County] was the day of my back surgery. That’s what made it so emotional. I saw how far I’ve come.”

The Angels drafted Rodriguez in the fourth round in 2016 out of high school in Miami Gardens, Florida, and a stress fracture in his back cost him all of 2018 and all but three abbreviated starts in 2019.

“We’ve all seen what kind of stuff he has, the makeup, and he’s filled up the strike zone, so we’re excited for him,” general manager Perry Minasian said Monday. “He’s definitely gone through a lot over the course of his career.

“We’re excited for his future. He’s got a chance to be a big piece here.”

The right-hander spent time last year at the Angels’ alternate training site at Long Beach State. Rodriguez has pitched a grand total of 77⅔ professional innings, none above Class-A. But he’ll be in the majors beginning on Thursday, a part of the Angels bullpen.

Rodriguez, who was added to the 40-man roster in November, has 10 strikeouts and only one walk in eight innings this spring. He pitched a scoreless inning on Monday night at Dodger Stadium, getting three ground balls.

“I like the fact that he can put the ball on the ground. He’s got a swing-and-miss slider that’s high velocity, and he’s a strike thrower,” Maddon said. “The makeup is strong, so he checks all the boxes. Maybe he doesn’t check the experience box, but everything else is in order.”

Notes

  • Shohei Ohtani is in the Angels lineup at designated hitter on Tuesday, one night after leaving his start on the mound with a torn blister on his right hand.
  • Rodriguez said his entrance music from the bullpen would be Killing Me Softly by the Fugees.
  • The Angels optioned reliever James Hoyt, who was acquired Monday from Miami for cash considerations, to the alternate training site.
  • Steve Cishek, signed Monday, will wear uniform number 35 with the Angels, and is expected to pitch in Tuesday’s game. Tony Watson, also signed Monday, will wear number 40. Watson threw a bullpen session and isn’t expected to pitch Tuesday.

Game info

Teams: Dodgers vs. Angels

Location: Dodger Stadium

Time: 6:10 p.m. PT

TV: Fox Sports West, SportsNet LA (Dodgers broadcast)