Andrelton Simmons accepts Angels’ plan to come back gradually from ankle injury

Andrelton Simmons is still learning.

A day after he came back from missing more than three weeks with a sprained ankle, Simmons was out of the lineup for a scheduled day off Saturday.

In the past, Simmons might have pushed back when his manager or trainers tried to give him time off. He said he’s now learned to pick his battles.

“I’m ready and available,” he said. “But they are trying to manage my workload to get me back as safe as possible. … I know they have my best interest by doing certain things and having a schedule set up, so I’m more accepting of certain things.”

Manager Joe Maddon said his plan is now for Simmons to play Sunday and Monday, then get another day off.

Simmons said he’s also trying to learn how to avoid getting hurt in the first place. Each of the past two years, he has sprained his ankle on the same play, lunging toward first to try to beat a throw.

“I guess I can’t be doing that lunge for now,” Simmons said. “Ideally, I won’t have to do it ever, but in the heat of the game you do some things out of desperation. Just trying to help. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. The ankle is just good enough to play, but (the discomfort) is there enough to where I know I’m not going to lunge with that leg. Maybe with the other leg.”

Simmons added that: “I’m hoping I learned my lesson by now.”

The injury cost Simmons a significant chunk of what was left of the final year of his contract, with more than half of it already lost because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Simmons said he’s trying not to think about what it would mean to hit the free-agent market this winter after this type of season.

He also said he’s not thinking about what could happen at the end of the month. Because he is not signed beyond this year, and because the Angels have fallen out of contention, Simmons would be a candidate to be traded by the Aug. 31 deadline. Obviously, over the next week teams will need to see that he’s healthy and can be productive.

There isn’t likely to be a big market a one-month rental of Simmons, but a team like the Toronto Blue Jays could be interested because shortstop Bo Bichette is hurt. The Yankees also lost shortstop Gleyber Torres, although he’s expected back in a few weeks.

HEANEY’S NEW PLAN?

Maddon said Andrew Heaney showed encouraging signs Friday night by relying more on his fastball, which is essentially the opposite adjustment that Dylan Bundy has made over the past few years.

Heaney gave up three runs in the first inning, then pitched three scoreless innings. He was charged with two more runs in the fifth, one of which scored after he was out of the game.

In the first inning, Heaney threw fastballs on 14 of his 25 pitches (56%). His average coming into the game was 59%.

After the first inning Friday, though, Heaney threw fastballs with 72% of his pitches.

“The numbers aren’t real high on the gun, it’s 91-92 mph, but it really jumps,” Maddon said. “It’s his delivery and the way ball comes out of his hand. Furthermore, he’s gonna see a lot of right-handed hitters, and he’s really good on getting in on right-handed hitters, who don’t like that. So we’re just checking that out, trying to give him a better breakdown of that, because this guy is very talented and that fastball plays up.”

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