Kyle Blanks sees first game action in 10 months and “the results weren’t pretty”

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Kyle Blanks started at designated hitter yesterday in a “B” game against the Mariners, marking the first time he’s faced live pitching in 10 months as he comes back from Tommy John elbow surgery.

Blanks went 0-for-2 with one walk and two strikeouts, and John Maffei of the North County Times writes that “the results weren’t pretty.”

In his postgame assessment, Blanks seemed to agree that he was very rusty:

I’ve been tracking balls in batting practice, but this was the first live at-bats with the intent to hit the ball. I definitely felt competitive, but the reps just aren’t there. And those were the first breaking balls I’ve seen since early last season. I didn’t get ready, didn’t get set. I rushed myself. But I’ll take that to the bank and remember it. The last at-bat was bad. I haven’t see stuff like that for a long time.

Blanks will have plenty of time to shake off the rust, as he’s expected to begin the season on the disabled list and, once ready, will head out on what figures to be a 20-day rehab assignment. Blanks is unsure about his official timetable, but did say: “One thing is for sure … I need to get some serious reps on the curveball machine.”

At just 24 years old the former top prospect remains a big part of the Padres’ long-term plans, but he’ll likely have to work his way back into the lineup with platoon job splitting time with left-handed hitters Will Venable or Brad Hawpe.

Report: Angels to sign Cody Allen

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Angels and reliever Cody Allen are in agreement on a one-year contract, pending a physical. The value of the contract is not yet known.

Allen, 30, was looking for an opportunity to close and the Angels can certainly provide that. He will likely be the favorite to break camp as the closer. 2018 was the roughest year of his career, however, as he finished with a 4.70 ERA, 27 saves, and a 80/33 K/BB ratio in 67 innings. Among Allen’s six full seasons, his 27.7 strikeout rate and 11.4 percent walk rate represented career-worsts. FanGraphs also shows him losing nearly a full MPH on his average fastball velocity.

The Angels lost closer Keynan Middleton to Tommy John surgery early last season and he likely won’t return until the second half of the 2019 season. Blake Parker, who handled save situations in Middleton’s place, was non-tendered by the Angels in November and ended up signing with the Twins. The closer’s role is Allen’s to lose, it seems.