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Valdez working out kinks in delivery
By Doug Miller
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jose Valdez pitched in 25 games for the Angels in 2016. He showed a fastball in the mid- to high 90s, a slider and changeup, and the propensity to throw strikes.
In fact, Valdez, a 27-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic who broke into the big leagues in a seven-game stint with Detroit in 2015, missed a lot of bats last year. In 23 1/3 innings with the Angels, he struck out 22.
The walks were a big reason for his 1.41 WHIP and 4.24 ERA, and the Angels were hoping Valdez would work out some inconsistencies in his delivery.
So far, it looks like it has happened. On Monday against the Dodgers, Valdez, who is in camp as a non-roster invitee, trying to break into the big league bullpen, looked overpowering, striking out two in a perfect inning. Through five Cactus League appearances, Valdez has four strikeouts and one walk in five innings.
"He was great," said Martin Maldonado, who caught Valdez on Monday. "His stuff looks incredible."
Maldonado's not the only one who's noticed.
"I don't think he's thrown a pitch outside of the strike zone all year," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's unbelievable.
"He's tightened stuff up a lot. He's made some adjustments. He's an interesting guy. He's got a great arm."
Eckstein to arrive: World Series-winning shortstop and franchise icon David Eckstein is slated to arrive Wednesday and be in uniform.
"To coach, not play," Scioscia said with a smile.
Eckstein, the diminutive but unflappable former infielder and leadoff man, who was a key member of the 2002 World Series championship team, will work as the team's next guest instructor.
"Eck, from the first time we met him, he had a special baseball intellect, and he understands the game," Scioscia said.
"We just want for him to get a little overview, certainly give some of his experience to some of our younger players, and just be here to help support some of the guys. He's a really sharp guy."
Maybin still waiting: Outfielder Cameron Maybin got the day off Tuesday after another game without a hit. Maybin, the Angels' new left fielder after an offseason trade with Detroit, walked twice Monday against the Dodgers but is 0-for-19 in Cactus League play.
"He's probably just missed three or four home runs this spring, so he's not that far off," Scioscia said. "He'll find it. He just needs some time."
• Scioscia said lefty Tyler Skaggs is set to start Wednesday's game against the Giants in Scottsdale Stadium. Skaggs, who missed a start because of shoulder weakness, will ideally go two innings and throw somewhere around 30 pitches. Scioscia said he still has time to be in the rotation at the beginning of the regular season.
• Scioscia said it still might be a "couple days" for infielder Cliff Pennington, who's working his way back from shoulder stiffness. Luis Valbuena (sore legs) has a chance to start Wednesday.
• The Angels optioned left-hander Greg Mahle to Triple-A Salt Lake and optioned righty Eduardo Paredes to Double-A Mobile. The club also reassigned right-hander Drew Gagnon to Minor League camp.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.