Fontana (shoulder) returned from injury by playing in a Triple-A game against the Brewers on Friday, Jeff Fletcher of The Orange County Register.
Fontana had missed the majority of spring training up until this point dealing with shoulder inflammation. With the Angels restocking their infield this offseason, there was little chance the 26-year-old would have made the Opening Day roster, even as a backup. It would likely take an injury to open up a spot for the utility infielder.
Fontana hasn't participated in any Cactus League games since Feb. 27 while dealing with right shoulder inflammation, Jeff Fletcher of The Orange County Register reports.
The Angels are hopeful that Fontana will resume throwing soon, but it may be too late for the 26-year-old to make a run at a bench role on the Opening Day roster. At this stage in camp, Luis Valbuena and Kaleb Cowart look like the frontrunners to claim reserve gigs in the infield.
A second-round pick in 2012, Fontana fared far better with Salt Lake than he did with the Astros' Triple-A affiliate in 2016, nearly tripling his wRC+ from a year ago. The 26-year-old has displayed great patience at the dish throughout his minor-league career as well as decent speed and some emerging pop, but with Brandon Phillips coming aboard via a waiver trade, there simply doesn't seem to be a path to regular at-bats for Fontana.
Fontana was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake on Tuesday.
Fontana only managed to collect one hit during his cup of coffee in the big leagues, so he was an obvious choice to ship back to the minors to make room for Tuesday's starter Parker Bridwell. Fontana could be back on the shuttle to the big leagues soon if he continues to walk nearly 15% of the time with the Bees, however.
Fontana will start at second base and bat eighth Sunday against the Marlins.
Since being called up to the big leagues Monday, Fontana has recorded only one hit in 11 at-bats, but he'll still benefit from his second start in a row with everyday second baseman Danny Espinosa in the midst of an extended slump. Once either Fontana or Espinosa is able to find some success at the plate, that player could end up taking on the bulk of the starts at the keystone.
|10/1/2017 vs Seattle|
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|Minor League Batting Stats|
|2014||AA-Corpus Christi Hooks||66||229||33||60||21||1||1||26||61||76||5||8||.418||.376||.262|