Angels return home to extra work, positive reinforcement – Orange County Register

ANAHEIM ― Mike Trout was at Angel Stadium early Monday, taking hacks against live pitching during the noon hour with Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh.

Later in the day, manager Joe Maddon took the unusual step of pulling Juan Lagares aside during batting practice. Maddon and first base coach Benji Gil went to work with the veteran outfielder, two-on-one, on his swing mechanics.

When the Angels resumed their home-field routine Monday, the status quo was not in effect. Their East Coast road trip ended Sunday with an 11-game losing streak on the line. The team had averaged 3.18 runs per game during the skid – the second-longest in franchise history.

Between the extra early work and a little positive reinforcement, Maddon is hopeful the Angels can keep from skidding further.

“One year (the 2014 Tampa Bay Rays) were 18 games under .500 and we ended up 60-60” – actually 61-61 – “which is still one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. … Things like this can change on a dime,” Maddon said. “If you give up mentally it can’t happen, and that’s the message.”

The messaging extends literally to the hallway connecting the Angels’ clubhouse to the home dugout.

Recently, three blown-up photo posters were hung along the hallway wall. Two depicting celebratory shots following walk-off victories over the Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals in April and May, respectively. The other shows Reid Detmers on the day of his no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 10. Collectively, they serve as reminders of better times.

As for the intensified coaching during pregame batting practice, Maddon said he was trying to encourage Lagares to tap into his power through a tweak to his swing path. Lagares has two extra-base hits in 20 at-bats since his contract was purchased from Triple -A.

“Most of the time when it comes to working with the hitters, I give my message to Jeremy (Reed), Paulie (Sorrento) or John (Mallee),” Maddon said. “I asked permission for this. I said, I want to go out there, what do you think about it? They said, ‘Please do.’

“Now these guys are going to get my thoughts, my methods, my stuff, and not another version of it. I feel good about my message, quite frankly. That’s what I’m doing, putting my message out there.”

INJURY UPDATES

Anthony Rendon took ground balls at third base without making a throw, the latest step in his progress back from inflammation in his right wrist.

“That doesn’t bother his injury, so he was out there taking ground balls,” Maddon said. “There’s really no strong sense of when he’s going to be able to be back.”

Rendon was hitting .242 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 41 games at the time of his injury.

Outfielder Taylor Ward hasn’t tried jogging, but he said his sore right hamstring no longer causes him pain while walking. Ward was placed on the 15-day injured list Sunday.

Ward was also nursing a neck stinger while he hurt his hamstring. He said the strength in his right shoulder is still roughly around 70%. Ward has a .333 batting average, 10 homers and 26 RBIs in 38 games this season.

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