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OC Register: Zack Cozart feeling good as he returns to Angels after injury shortened season

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TEMPE, Ariz. — After missing the second half of last season with shoulder surgery, Zack Cozart surprised himself with how good he feels coming into spring training.

In fact, Cozart said he’s ready to play right now.

“Honestly, if today was Day 1 of the actual season, I could play,” Cozart said Tuesday.

Position players aren’t even due in camp for a few more days, but Cozart is here with the pitchers and catchers because he’s returning from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder.

He said he’s been hitting since the start of December and working out defensively at second and third base. Cozart is going to be the Angels starter at one of those spots, depending which young player — David Fletcher, Taylor Ward or Luis Rengifo — wins the other job.

For a guy coming off a serious surgery and dealing with a positional mystery, he seems not at all bothered.

“Besides rehabbing every day, I had a pretty normal offseason,” Cozart said. “Hitting, throwing, ground balls.”

Cozart said Dr. Neal ElAttrache warned him after the surgery that he had extensive damage in his shoulder and that his swing “would not feel normal for a long time,” Cozart recalled.

However, Cozart said he’s already feeling pretty good.

“I was actually shocked, in a good way, how good I felt so early,” he said. “It’s doing great.”

ALSO

Jaime Barría showed up in camp looking significantly slimmer. “He’s leaned up,” Manager Brad Ausmus said. “He looks good. He looks healthy.” Ausmus said Rengifo also arrived looking stronger than he did in the minors last year…

Justin Bour, who has also been working out in Arizona for a few weeks, made an early impression on Ausmus: “He’s a mountain of a man. He’s imposing to the opposing pitcher.”

Albert Pujols, who is rehabbing from knee and elbow surgeries, is also in camp already, and cleared for all activities, Ausmus said. …

Angels everyday players are expected to see limited action in the first few Cactus League games, as was the case last year. The spring training schedule was compressed last season, when opening day was moved to a Thursday, so there is now less time for workouts before games begin. …

The Angels now have televisions in their clubhouse at Tempe Diablo Stadium. They did not have TVs when Mike Scioscia was the manager.

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If I was making 12 million for not being good at baseball, I'd be feeling pretty good too.  I seriously wonder how the shoulder will determine his offensive production. He hit like crap before the injury, so part of me thinks it can't get much worse, but then I remember Mathis and Wood and I realize that it always could be worse.  So I don't think Cozart deserves to be handed a starting spot at all.  He should be forced to compete for a spot with Fletcher, Ward and Rengifo. 

I bet if it was an open competition, Cozart would lose. 

Also, that's good to hear about Barria and Rengifo. 

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1 hour ago, Stradling said:

I hate that term so much.  Can anyone ever really be in the best shape of their life after the age of 30?  We all need to hope and pray he is in the best shape of his life.  

Cozart has been this trim since he was 6 months old.

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Trade him and let the young guys play. He is owed $13 mil each of this and next year.   If a years salary has to be eaten, I “ll supply the bbq sauce.

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36 minutes ago, Second Base said:

If I was making 12 million for not being good at baseball, I'd be feeling pretty good too.  I seriously wonder how the shoulder will determine his offensive production. He hit like crap before the injury, so part of me thinks it can't get much worse, but then I remember Mathis and Wood and I realize that it always could be worse.  So I don't think Cozart deserves to be handed a starting spot at all.  He should be forced to compete for a spot with Fletcher, Ward and Rengifo. 

I bet if it was an open competition, Cozart would lose. 

Also, that's good to hear about Barria and Rengifo. 

Why won’t it be an open competition?  

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5 minutes ago, Stradling said:

Why won’t it be an open competition?  

There’s no way Cozart isn’t on the team coming out of spring, given his contract. Best case would be reduced to a utility infielder, and he’d have to royally suck at the plate to get that kind of demotion. He’s a vet with a nice contact - that means he’s playing. Also, the other contenders can get sent down, but Cozart can’t. It won’t be an open competition for Cozart - he’s guaranteed a spot. 

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2 minutes ago, Sean-Regan said:

There’s no way Cozart isn’t on the team coming out of spring, given his contract. Best case would be reduced to a utility infielder, and he’d have to royally suck at the plate to get that kind of demotion. He’s a vet with a nice contact - that means he’s playing. Also, the other contenders can get sent down, but Cozart can’t. It won’t be an open competition for Cozart - he’s guaranteed a spot. 

My point is it will be a competition to be the starter.

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28 minutes ago, Stradling said:

My point is it will be a competition to be the starter.

Well, the article says he's going to be starting at either 2B or 3B.  That isn't so much of a competition as much as it is a guarantee of a certain role.  Guys like Trout, Upton, Simmons and Ohtani are above trying out to be the starter.  But someone like Zack Cozart, I don't believe he's done enough in Anaheim or in Cincinnati outside of one season, to deserve that sort of recognition.  Cozartt is a fine defensive player and versatile, so a spot on the team should all but be ensured.  He'd make a good utility infielder.  But as far as a starting spot goes, I don't think it's necessarily fair that if Fletcher, Rengifo and Ward all outperform him, Cozart still wins a starting spot. 

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58 minutes ago, totdprods said:

Came in here to say literally this, word for word.

I think Cozart will be a decent surprise this year, if even only attaining that. 

And then if both Jones and Rengifo are ready for 2020, be able to trade Cozart and if necessary eat half of the remaining $13 million.   That's still $6.5 million that can be used.  

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1 hour ago, totdprods said:

Came in here to say literally this, word for word.

I think Cozart will be a decent surprise this year, if even only attaining that. 

I agree. Cozart will be productive if he stays healthy.

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8 hours ago, Stradling said:

I hate that term so much.  Can anyone ever really be in the best shape of their life after the age of 30?  We all need to hope and pray he is in the best shape of his life.  

Actually yes.  It after 30 when ones physical ability starts to regress due to age.

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