TEMPE, Ariz. (AP)Anthony Rendon met many of his new teammates for the first time Thursday during a quick visit to the Los Angeles Angels’ clubhouse a few days before their position players’ reporting date.
Another newcomer with huge importance to the Angels’ turnaround hopes is already hard at work in Arizona.
While the $245 million third baseman was the Halos’ highest-profile offseason addition, right-hander Dylan Bundy is expected to fill a need that’s even more pressing for the Angels than offense.
Bundy made 89 starts over the last three seasons for the Baltimore Orioles while averaging 167 2-3 innings per year, while only two starters in the last three years have made 30 starts for the Angels. Los Angeles had exactly one pitcher who managed to get through even 100 innings on its injury-riddled staff last season, and the Halos’ 5.12 team ERA was 25th among the majors’ 30 teams.
To avoid overtaxing their bullpen again, the Angels badly needed durable, innings-eating starters. Bundy – the former fourth overall pick in the draft by Baltimore – believes he can do the work.
”I want to just go out there and keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Bundy said. ”Maybe a little bit better, obviously, but just keep going out there every five days for your teammates and make every start I can. My goal is to make 30-plus starts and put up good results.”
The Angels badly wanted to sign Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler or another elite free-agent pitcher, but those stars chose to go elsewhere. But even before the Halos knew what would happen, they traded four minor leaguers to Baltimore to land Bundy, whose durability and midseason adjustments kept him on the mound throughout Baltimore’s last two terrible seasons.
The Angels believe Bundy’s career ERA (4.67) is a reflection of playing for the Orioles, who lost 223 games in the last two years. In fact, manager Joe Maddon is all but certain Bundy would have better numbers if he hadn’t pitched so often against the powerhouse lineups sent out by the Red Sox and the Yankees in the AL East’s extremely hitter-friendly ballparks for his entire career.
”Maybe (the ballpark in) Tampa Bay is legit,” said Maddon, the former Rays manager. ”He’s been pitching in spots that are really difficult. I’m curious to get him more at sea level out there, playing games in our ballpark. Let’s just see how it plays out, because I like his stuff.”
Maddon has been eager to work with Bundy since he received a glowing recommendation for the right-hander from Brandon Hyde, Maddon’s bench coach with the Cubs before he became Bundy’s manager in Baltimore last season.
”Hyder could not say enough good things about this guy, and Hyder is not easy to please most of the time,” Maddon said. ”The fact that Hyder came at me so effusively in his praise for him, that told me a lot. (Bundy and Julio Teheran) were two wonderful acquisitions to bolster us with the veteran kind of pitcher, and also we do need to suck up some innings with more consistency.”
Bundy and fellow right-hander Teheran are the biggest offseason additions to the Angels’ staff. It’s not exactly the big-name bonanza Angels fans hoped for, but Bundy believes he can prove his value through time. Even before the Angels acquired him, Bundy changed up his offseason workout regimen, starting earlier in the winter and going harder in hopes of a breakthrough at 27 years old.
”I like to think I’m still young,” said Bundy, who had Tommy John surgery in 2013. ”I think there’s always room for improvement, no matter who you are. It’s just finding what works for you, and I think the hitters will let you know.”
Right-hander Justin Anderson will be sidelined for four to six weeks after injuring his oblique muscle while playing catch, Maddon said.
Anderson said he got hurt Tuesday. He only had a few throws left when he abruptly felt pain ”like somebody stabbed me in my side,” he said.
Anderson, a former 14th-round pick who made his major league debut in 2018, missed a chunk of last season with an injured trapezius muscle in his neck and back. He had spent the offseason strengthening his core and diligently working back from that injury, only to find out he essentially will miss spring training this year.
Anderson went 3-0 with a 5.55 ERA last season in 54 appearances with the Angels. He is fighting for a spot in Los Angeles’ bullpen again this year.
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