Flexible Fletcher, Angels chase another win over Mariners

MLB

Five games into the season, and David Fletcher’s versatility has already paid off for the Los Angeles Angels.

Fletcher, who started the first four games at third base for the injured Anthony Rendon, moved to shortstop for the Angels’ home opener Tuesday night against the Seattle Mariners.

Rendon, the team’s big offseason acquisition, returned Tuesday from an oblique injury, and shortstop Andrelton Simmons was placed on the 10-day injured list after rolling his left ankle while beating out an infield single in the ninth inning Monday at Oakland.

But moving around is nothing new for Fletcher, whose Angels play host again to the Mariners on Wednesday. He played games at five positions for the Angels last season: second base, third, shortstop and the two corner outfield spots.

“I always feel comfortable at short. It’s where I played my whole life until a couple years ago,” Fletcher said before Tuesday’s game. “I still take ground balls there in the offseason and over the quarantine period. And even in the summer camp a little bit. So, yeah, I feel prepared.”

Fletcher went 2-for-3 with two walks Tuesday in Los Angeles’ 10-2 victory, raising his average to .556.

Left-hander Andrew Heaney (0-0, 1.93 ERA) is scheduled to make his second start of the season on Wednesday. Heaney went 4 2/3 innings on Opening Day in Oakland, giving up one run on two hits with no walks and six strikeouts in a game the Angels eventually lost 7-3 in 10 innings.

“We’re basically playing a third of a season, so that’s like losing a three-game series,” Heaney told reporters after the opener. “That’s what it feels like. I think you could see it just from the tone. I was in the clubhouse for those late innings. Everybody that was in there, it felt like the end of a season. I felt like everybody was treating it like any game late in the year. I think guys understand how crucial each game is gonna be.”

Heaney is 1-4 with a 4.32 ERA in nine career starts against Seattle.

The Mariners will complete their first turn through their six-man rotation Wednesday when right-hander Justin Dunn (0-0, 2.70 ERA in four starts last season) makes his first career appearance against the Angels.

Seattle’s starters have struggled thus far, with none pitching longer than lefty Marco Gonzales’ 4 2/3 innings on Opening Day. Gonzales’ 6.23 ERA is the only one in single digits among those in the Mariners’ rotation.

Mariners manager Scott Servais said the team is being careful not to overextend any of its starters in the pandemic-delayed season.

“You do need to be careful,” Servais said. “It’s just different. Guys can be at home and throw their bullpens and long toss and different things. But the intensity and volume of throwing, that’s the thing people don’t realize. When you’re at home doing workouts, you go to a facility or ballpark and get your arm loose and throw your bullpen and go home.

“In the three-week ramp-up to this, you’re doing (pitcher fielding drills) and throwing every day. It’s the volume. Then you put the intensity of game action on top of it, that’s where the injuries start to set in. There has been a number of guys go down around the league. Knock on wood, we’re just trying to keep our guys healthy. But some of it is out of your control just because of the quick ramp-up and where we’re at with this thing.”

–Field Level Media

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