ANAHEIM — Phil Nevin is calling on his experience as a Triple-A manager in his new role leading the big league club.
Nevin said he’s had a couple conversations with Jo Adell while he’s been at Salt Lake, in order to keep track of where Adell is mentally during what he concedes could be discouraging for the former Angels top prospect.
“I understand that completely,” Nevin said on Sunday. “Managing down at that level for six or seven years, I know what that’s like when players arrive. Their mind is ‘I’m going to work,’ but at the end of the day it’s not the big leagues. You’re taking early flights. The facilities are good now, but they’re still not the big leagues. And obviously I don’t have to tell you about the paychecks. It’s just a different deal.
“It’s a hard thing to swallow, maybe even harder the second time. I just want to keep Jo upbeat, let him know he’s part of our future, part of our plans. We want the best Jo Adell when he comes back. He’s working towards that. He’s got a great attitude. He’s a phenomenal person. I love my conversations with him. He’s a great kid. We’re going to see greatness out of him. I have no doubt about that.”
So far, the Angels have not seen Adell reach his potential for any extended period.
Adell, 23, made the Opening Day roster, but he was sent down after a month in which he hit .215 with a .627 OPS. Adell came back to the big leagues for about a week and he performed much better — .368 with a .902 OPS in six games — but he was returned to Triple-A.
Since then, Adell has been in a tailspin. He was 4 for 31 with 11 strikeouts and no walks in his first eight games after going back to Salt Lake. He then missed three games because of some minor knee issues, Nevin said. Adell was back in the lineup on Sunday, and he had a double early in the game.
His recent struggles have raised the question of whether Adell was struggling mentally with being in Triple-A, which is why Nevin has made a point to keep in close touch with him.
Nevin said it’s still just baseball issues that are holding back Adell. The Angels also have concerns about his defense.
“There’s a lot of baseball to be had with him,” Nevin said. “Still learning experiences and everything. I’ve talked to with him. I’ve talked to with (Triple-A manager Lou Marson). He’s getting his work in.”
When the Angels sent Adell down the first time, it was because they wanted him to play every day, and the strong starts for Brandon Marsh and Taylor Ward weren’t leaving him many at-bats.
Now, though, Marsh has been in a slump for a month. The Angels also designated Juan Lagares for assignment, which leaves the door open for Adell to come back and get significant playing time when the Angels feel he’s performing at the level they want to see.
The Angels optioned right-hander Janson Junk to create a roster spot for José Suarez, who was recalled to pitch on Sunday. …
David MacKinnon got the start at third base on Sunday after making his professional debut at the position in the middle of Saturday’s game. MacKinnon had not played third since college, but the Angels like his bat and are trying to squeeze him into the lineup. He’s normally a first baseman, but the Angels have Jared Walsh at first. …
Monte Harrison got his first start since joining the Angels, in left field. Marsh, who has a .512 OPS against lefties this season, got a day off with the Angels facing left-hander Marco Gonzales. The Angels will see three straight right-handers against the White Sox, so Marsh is expected to start all three.
Angels (RHP Noah Syndergaard, 4-6, 3.86) vs. White Sox (RHP Lucas Giolito, 4-4, 5.40), Monday, 6:38 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM