First baseman Jared Walsh could make his season debut on Saturday night when the Los Angeles Angels host the Minnesota Twins in Anaheim, Calif.
Walsh, 29, revealed during spring training he had been experiencing neurological symptoms, including headaches and insomnia, for a couple of years. He saw a specialist in Utah and entered what was supposed to be a two-week program.
The program lasted three weeks, ending in early April. Walsh, though, remained out until beginning a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake on May 12. He has played in seven games with the Bees, hitting .440 (11-for-25) with one homer and six RBIs, and is expected to join the big league club Saturday.
Walsh was an All-Star in 2021, hitting .277 with 29 homers, 98 RBIs and an .849 OPS. But he struggled last season, in part because he missed time while dealing with thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition in which blood vessels or nerves are compressed, causing pain in the shoulder and neck and numbness in the fingers.
Without Walsh, Angels manager Phil Nevin has mixed and matched at first base with four players getting starts — Gio Urshela (16), Brandon Drury (14), Jake Lamb (14) and Matt Thaiss (two).
“Hopefully (Walsh’s return) is sooner than later, but it will be on Jared’s time,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said. “The biggest thing is we’re happy for the other side, right? Sleeping better, he’s healthier and he’s in a good place mentally and physically, obviously. We all know how good of a player he is.”
Left-hander Patrick Sandoval (3-2, 3.22 ERA) will make his ninth start of the season for the Angels. He is 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA in two career starts vs. Minnesota.
Right-hander Louie Varland (1-0, 4.30) will be on the mound for the Twins, making his fifth start of the season. He is 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA in one career start against the Angels.
Outfielder Joey Gallo is expected back in the lineup Saturday for the Twins after starting Friday’s 5-4 loss to the Angels on the bench. He fouled a ball off his right shin Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers and sustained a contusion. He entered Friday’s game in the seventh inning.
He’ll likely be back in the leadoff spot, something of an unorthodox decision for a hitter who is known for strikeouts and home runs. But with Max Kepler sidelined with a hamstring strain, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli put Gallo in the leadoff spot last Saturday against the Chicago Cubs for the first time in Gallo’s career.
Gallo homered in his first two games in the leadoff spot and is 6-for-22 with three homers and seven RBIs in his last six games. And while acknowledging he’ll do whatever is asked of him, Gallo said he wasn’t thrilled about the move.
“It’s not that I don’t want to, but I don’t want to,” Gallo joked, adding that it has been an adjustment because he doesn’t get to study the pitcher before he leads off the game.
“I think that’s the hardest part for me,” he said. “That’s what I’m not used to, like going up there and being the first guy to attack and kind of see what a pitcher’s doing and stuff. I think that’s what’s different for me.”
–Field Level Media