La Stella is expected to start at second base against right-handed pitchers if a 2020 season takes place, Jeff Fletcher of The Orange County Register reports. There had been murmurs of a potential move to first base for La Stella, but manager Joe Maddon quashed that idea and indicated that he wants the veteran to start at second base against righties. That leaves David Fletcher to man the position versus southpaws, though his positional versatility should keep the contact specialist's bat in the lineup on a near-everyday basis.
La Stella (back) is leading off and starting at second base Saturday. He missed a couple games with a stiff back, but it was evidently a minor issue. La Stella appears poised to lead off in front of Mike Trout this season, at least against right-handed pitchers.
The Angels scratched La Stella ahead of Wednesday's Cactus League game against the Mariners with a stiff back, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. La Stella had been scheduled to lead off for the Angels, the lineup spot he's occupied in all five of his spring appearances to date. Assuming the back issue proves to be nothing more than a day-to-day concern, La Stella should be ready to handle a full-time role atop the Los Angeles lineup once Opening Day arrives. La Stella was one of the many players around the league who saw a major spike in power in 2019 thanks to the juiced baseball; he batted .295 with 16 home runs -- 11 more than his previous career best -- despite playing in just 80 games due to injury.
Angels manager Joe Maddon has no plans to move La Stella to first base this season, Jeff Fletcher of The Orange County Register reports. There has been discussion that La Stella could slide over to play first base and Albert Pujols could move to the bench given Los Angeles' crowded infield situation. Manager Joe Maddon indicated Sunday, "I've never seen Tommy play a whole lot of first base. I'm not saying it's impossible. It's just not a high priority yet, but it could be." The Angels plan on having any combination of La Stella, David Fletcher and right fielder Brian Goodwin in their lineup based on the opposing pitcher. La Stella has reunited with his old manager after playing four seasons with the Cubs from 2015-2018 and will try to follow up his career-best season at the plate in 2019 during which he slashed .295/.346/.486 with 16 home runs, 49 runs scored and 44 RBI.
La Stella agreed to a one-year, $3.25 million deal with the Angels on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports. He teamed up with the juiced baseball in 2019 to have his best season at the plate from a counting stat standpoint, as 16 of his 26 career home runs (476 career games) came last season. La Stella will be a free agent after this season.