The Los Angeles Angels will host the Detroit Tigers on Monday night in Anaheim, Calif., in the opener of a three-game series that many deem meaningless because both teams are long out of the playoff race.
However, individual players are still getting an opportunity to make a positive impression and increase their chances of having a major league career.
Angels outfielder Ryan Aguilar is getting his chance, one that not long ago he thought he’d never get.
Aguilar grew up an Angels fan, went to Esperanza High School in Anaheim and played for the University of Arizona. He was a 31st-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2016 and had never gotten above Double-A ball.
Then last year, after hitting just .146 in 74 games for Double-A Biloxi, he was released. He was 27 years old and had to come to grips with the idea that his major league dream likely was over.
He went home to be with his parents and had to ponder his future.
“There was a point in time for about a month and a half where I didn’t think I was going to play again,” Aguilar said. “And then I got myself together around October and I was going to go play independent ball. I started working, grinding. Then in December, the Angels gave me a call and I couldn’t be more excited.”
Aguilar made the most of his opportunity, hitting .280 with 15 homers, 48 RBIs and a .944 OPS in 88 games for the Double-A Rocket City Pandas this season. He was called up on Aug. 26 and made his debut the same day, going 0-for-2 with two walks and two runs in a win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Aguilar got his first major league hit the next day, a double off Blue Jays ace Alek Manoah.
This past Sunday, Aguilar played center field — Mike Trout was the designated hitter — and went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in the Angels’ 9-1 loss to the Houston Astros. He is still in the majors but is struggling, batting only .095 (2-for-21) with 14 strikeouts in six games.
The Angels continue to struggle as a team, with a 58-76 record, although they have won six of their past 10 games. Left-hander Jose Suarez (5-6, 4.10 ERA ) will make his 16th start of the season for the Angels on Monday. He is 0-1 with a 5.14 ERA in two career games (one start) vs. Detroit.
The Tigers will send left-hander Tyler Alexander (3-8, 4.76) to the mound in the series opener. He is 1-0 lifetime vs. the Angels, with a 4.32 ERA in three appearances (one start).
The Tigers enter the game with the worst offense in the majors. They are last in runs (440), homers (80), slugging percentage (.336) and OPS (.621). They’ve been shut out a major league high 18 times.
“There’s no choice but to look forward,” Tigers catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “I don’t know how many games we have left, but we’ve got games left that we have to play. We have to perform. We all get paid to go out there and play. Can’t shut it down. It’s hard to lose at this level. It’s hard to lose this much and play like this. It’s pretty frustrating, to be honest.”
–Field Level Media
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