Angels walk it off in spring training finale

Ric Tapia - The Sporting Tribune
The Angels wrap Spring Training with a walk-off win over the Dodgers.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Jack Lopez hit a walk-off single to give the Angels a 4-3 win over the Dodgers Tuesday in the Spring Training finale of the Freeway Series at Angel Stadium.

The Angels finish the spring with a 15-15-2 record and will fly to Baltimore Tuesday night for the regular season opener against the Orioles on Thursday.

“We started playing some real good baseball. I saw it coming when the spring started winding down, good things started happening,” Angels manager Ron Washington said. “It’s a long haul, there’s still going to be some ups and downs but they are getting there.”

The big story of the day was the return of Shohei Ohtani to Angel Stadium for the first time since signing a free agent deal with the Dodgers last summer.

Ohtani received a warm welcome from the crowd in Anaheim and a tribute video played before his first at bat.

Brandon Drury hit a 2-run double in the second inning to give the Angels a 2-0 lead. He was thrown out at third base by catcher Will Smith.

Newest Angel Miguel Sano hit a solo home run to extend the Angels’ lead to three.

The Dodgers had trouble against Angels starter Chase Silseth and only got two hits in his five innings. Both hits were back-to-back home runs by Freddie Freeman and Will Smith.

Zach Neto hit a triple with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and Lopez drove him in to give the Angels the win.

Here are my three takeaways from the Spring Training finale:

Big 24 hours for Miguel Sano

Sano, a non-roster invitee, has not appeared in a major league game since 2022 and only played 20 games for the Minnesota Twins before tearing his meniscus.

Sano made an impression on the Angels this Spring Training and after Monday’s game against the Dodgers was told he will make the opening day roster.

He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He works his butt off and is very deserving of being on our roster.

Angels manager Ron Washington

Washington confirmed Sano made the team during his pregame media scrum Tuesday.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Washington said of Sano. “He works his butt off and is very deserving of being on our roster.”

Sano made it clear he is deserving a roster spot in his opening at bat Tuesday. The 6-foot-4 designated hitter launched a 427 foot home run over the left field fence to extend the Angels lead to 3-0 at the time.

“I’m very thankful for these guys especially (Mike) Trout, he’s been helping me a lot and we are ready to win. It’s all we are here for.” Sano said.

He hit four home runs this spring and had an OPS of .753.

Chase Silseth could have a breakout season

The 23-year old right hander threw 93 pitches Tuesday and 91 of them were very good.

Silseth pitched five innings, allowed two runs on two hits with 10 strikeouts. Those two hits were back-to-back home runs at the hands of Freeman and Smith.

“I definitely blew it out a little earlier than I wanted to, came out with the grunts and everything,” Silseth said. “When you’re going against a team like this, it’s not a secret but they have big targets on their back. When you get a chance to face that team you want to go after them and that’s what I did.”

Silseth faced his former teammate Ohtani twice Tuesday and struck him out both times.

“It’s fun when he’s in the box,” Silseth said. “You want to just attack him and see what he does. If he gets you, he’s a very talented hitter and you have to give hats off to him. He’s a generational talent.”

Silseth will likely be the No. 5 starter for the Angels and debut in the team’s second series against Miami.

“I think I accomplished a lot (this spring),” Silseth said. “We have a new five man rotation which is the first time I’ve done it this spring so that was a big thing to do. I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot to be able to get out there every fifth day.”

Angels bullpen taking shape

The Angels have not made an official announcement regarding the final roster spots, but we have a good idea of who the Angels are sending to Baltimore for opening day.

Jose Suarez, Hunter Strickland and Guillermo Zuniga are the three candidates for two roster spots. The assumption is that the club wants Jose Soriano to get some work as a starting pitcher at the AAA level.

It appears that Suarez and Zuniga will be the two to make the Angels roster and that Strickland will be the odd man out.

The move makes sense considering Zuniga will have options which gives Washington flexibility to make roster moves when the team needs a fresh arm.