The Angels made the anticpated move prior to Tuesday’s game, placing Vernon Wells on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin and calling up speedster Reggie Willits to play a reserve role.
But this one came out of left field: replacing Wells tonight and making his first career start in the outfield is usual second baseman Howie Kendrick.
Kendrick had often shifted over to first base with Kendry Morales out, having made seven starts at the position this year. But he has only one inning of experience in the outfield in the majors, that coming in center.
The reasoning is pretty clear: manager Mike Scioscia thinks his defense is better with Maicer Izturis at second and Alberto Callaspo at third than it would be with one of those two DHing and Bobby Abreu playing left field.
The experiment could be quickly abandoned if Kendrick embarrasses himself in left field. However, this is definitely the night to give it a try. Joel Pineiro, who gets about as many grounders as any pitcher in baseball, will be on the mound against the White Sox.
Update: The Orange County Register’s Sam Miller points out that Kendrick’s previous one inning in center field wasn’t even legitimate. He was listed as the center fielder as part of a five-man infield on a play in which the Angels turned two.
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: