Early-enrollee quarterback Kedon Slovis played surprisingly well at spring practice. (Ling Luo/Daily Trojan) Throughout spring ball, a number of early-enrollee incoming freshmen on both sides of the ball made strong cases for playing time in the fall. With the loss of so many veterans to the draft, the freshmen’s ability to step up and contribute will be perhaps the most critical factor in the coming season. Though little more than a month of spring football doesn’t make the answers to those questions much clearer, it does give a better idea of what to expect from some of the younger team members. Jackson showcased his raw physical ability during the spring showcase, where he made a ridiculous one-handed interception at the line of scrimmage and proceeded to run it back for a touchdown. Jackson has been one of the most disruptive players on the Trojan front seven throughout the spring, and seems likely to have a big role to play come fall. Slovis showcases a natural understanding of the timing necessary for throws in offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s system, as well as refined touch on his passes. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, and his mobility is limited. However, his ability to quickly make reads and put the ball where and when it needs to be makes him worthy of notice at the position. Although it’s highly unlikely he wins the starting job, his ability to run the offense smoothly provides the Trojans with more security at signal caller — something a team always needs. Though the receiver room is crowded with an incredible amount of talent, Jackson’s performance so far should earn him the opportunity to fight for a bigger role in fall camp. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on the field regularly once the season begins. On the other side of the ball, quarterback Kedon Slovis has been a pleasant surprise for the Trojans. The Arizona native came into the spring with few expectations other than to be the fourth-string quarterback, yet his strong play has caught the attention of everyone in attendance. Allen continued to play well once he was moved back to safety, a position where the Trojans sorely lack depth. With the loss of so many veteran players in the secondary and the injury woes of many that remain, Allen’s versatility could make him a crucial player in the fall. Outside linebacker and defensive end Drake Jackson was perhaps the biggest shining star of spring ball. Jackson already looks the part of a Division I edge rusher, standing at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds and having been compared to USC legend Leonard Williams by head coach Clay Helton. Jackson carries that frame with tremendous athleticism, showing a rare burst off the line of scrimmage along with a special quickness in moving off of blocks. Defensive back Briton Allen, a late flip from Georgia Tech, found his way into plenty of reps this spring as a result of the numerous injuries hampering the secondary. Allen performed impressively when thrust into the fire at cornerback in the early practices — a departure from his usual safety position. Though his technique and footwork in coverage have a ways to go, Allen’s raw football instincts and aggressiveness showed up regularly. Fellow offensive newcomer wide receiver John Jackson III has been one of the most fun players to watch throughout the spring. From the first week of practice, Jackson has looked like he’s played in this offense for years. His route running is smooth and sudden, with exceptionally clean breaks that allow him to create separation with ease. His natural athleticism, sound hands and route-running ability made him a favorite target throughout spring ball, regularly making plays against the first team defense. Now that spring football practice has come to an end, the Trojans won’t take the field again to prepare for the 2019 season for two months. There’s no shortage of questions surrounding the team; the way it bounces back from last year’s disappointing season may define the program for years to come.
Cole worked around two hits to pitch a scoreless inning, with the help of a slick double play started by second baseman La Stella. So far, the Angels’ openers have allowed one run in seven first innings.Peña then took over and did exactly what the Angels had hoped.He gave up a run in the second inning – one that scored because Byron Buxton beat the back end of a potential double play by inches – and then nothing else.Peña did not allow the Twins to get another runner into scoring position through his five innings. So far in Peña’s five games following an opener he has a 2.73 ERA. He has pitched at least five innings in four of the games, and he pitched 4-1/3 innings in the other.“I thought he did a really nice job,” Ausmus said. “I thought the pitching did a nice job. That’s a good offense over there and we held them to three runs.” Moments after that, though, Simmons sprained his left ankle as he was lunging to try to beat out an infield hit. His ankle twisted in gruesome fashion as he hit the bag. He rolled onto the ground in pain and had to be helped off the field.An X-ray showed no fracture, but Simmons will undergo an MRI on Tuesday to determine the severity of the sprain.Mike Trout said he didn’t even want to look at the replay of Simmons’ injury, and he didn’t have much to say to Simmons other than giving him a hug.“He was kind of emotional and upset,” Trout said. “It’s tough. … It just kind of deflates you when you see guys go down, especially a guy who’s been having an unbelievable season so far, making unbelievable plays. The reaction said it all. Obviously, he was in pain. It was just tough.”Neither Simmons nor Ohtani were available to comment after the game, both remaining in the trainers’ room for treatment. Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros “I feel like Shohei, by all indications he should be fine,” Manager Brad Ausmus said. “Quicker timeframe. We don’t know what Simba’s time frame is. That’s probably the bigger concern right now. We don’t want to lose either one of them. But it seems like the injury to Simba at this point might be a little bit more dire. But we’ll know more tomorrow, we don’t want to guess as to what the final diagnosis will be.”Ausmus also wouldn’t speculate as to just how the Angels would replace either one.David Fletcher can play shortstop, but he’s better defensively at second and third. The best defensive shortstop is Zack Cozart, but he’s been in a deep slump at the plate the entire season.The Angels also could bring up Luís Rengifo or Taylor Ward. Rengifo can play shortstop and second, and he’s recently added third to his repertoire. Ward has been playing third for just more than a season, and within the last month he’s also started playing first base and left field.Albert Pujols likely would get most of the DH at-bats while Ohtani is out, with first base being handled by Jared Walsh and perhaps Ward or even Matt Thaiss. Justin Bour was recently sent down, but the Angels would likely wait for him to show improvement at the plate before bringing him back.“Next guy up mentality,” Trout said. “That’s the way we have to look at it. We’ve got to stay positive. It’s tough when you lose a guy like that, a part of the team. But we’ve got to get through it.”The injuries in the bottom of the eighth occurred just moments after Buttrey had a rare bad outing, losing a game the Angels had tied on Tommy La Stella’s third hit, in the seventh.Buttrey had not allowed a homer in the first 41 innings of his big league career, and this season he’d allowed just two runs in 23-2/3 innings, with 31 strikeouts.After a single in the eighth, he threw a 2-and-0 fastball over the middle of the plate at Sano’s knees, and he blasted it just over the fence in right field.“First home run sucks, but I’m sure I had to get it out of the way sometime,” Buttrey said. “Hopefully I don’t make a trend of that, which I won’t. That’s baseball.”The loss also spoiled another encouraging performance from the Angels on a night when they started with Taylor Cole as the opener for Félix Peña.Related Articles PreviousThe Angels’ Andrelton Simmons, center, is helped up by Manager Brad Ausmus, left, and a trainer after he injured his left ankle while trying to beat out a throw to first base during the eighth inning of Monday’s game against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Angels starting pitcher Taylor Cole throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Monday, May 20, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsLos Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, avoids a close pitch for ball four during the first inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Monday, May 20, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Angels second baseman David Fletcher dives for a ball hit by the Twins’ Luis Arraez during the eighth inning of Monday’s game at Angel Stadium. Arraez was safe at first on the play. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout, left, almost collides with right fielder Kole Calhoun as he makes a catch on a ball hit by Minnesota Twins’ Eddie Rosario during the sixth inning of a baseball game Monday, May 20, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Angels’ Brian Goodwin, left, is congratulated by Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, after scoring on a single by Tommy La Stella during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Monday, May 20, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Minnesota Twins’ Miguel Sano is congratulated by teammates after hitting a two-run home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Monday, May 20, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, winces as he injures his hand while swinging at strike three during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Monday, May 20, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, winces after injuring his hand while swinging at strike three during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Monday, May 20, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, left, of Japan, is attended to by a trainer and manager Brad Ausmus, second from left, after injuring his hand while swinging at strike three during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Monday, May 20, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)The Angels’ Andrelton Simmons, center, is helped up by Manager Brad Ausmus, left, and a trainer after he injured his left ankle while trying to beat out a throw to first base during the eighth inning of Monday’s game against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)NextShow Caption1 of 10The Angels’ Andrelton Simmons, center, is helped up by Manager Brad Ausmus, left, and a trainer after he injured his left ankle while trying to beat out a throw to first base during the eighth inning of Monday’s game against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)ExpandANAHEIM — Of all the bad things that happened to the Angels in the eighth inning of their 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Monday night, the least troubling was probably that they allowed the go-ahead runs.“That was a pretty creepy inning,” said Ty Buttrey, who gave up a two-run homer to snap a tie game. “You couldn’t have drawn it up any worse than that.”A few minutes after Buttrey gave up the two-run homer to Miguel Sano in the top of the eighth, both Andrelton Simmons and Shohei Ohtani suffered injuries.Ohtani was hit in the right ring finger while striking out. Adding insult to injury, literally, the Angels didn’t even get a baserunner out of it because Ohtani was swinging at the pitch. X-rays showed no fracture, so Ohtani will be evaluated again on Tuesday. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error