Before leaving for the ballpark, Angels outfielder Mickey Moniak, who is from Encinitas but lives in Orange County now, grabs coffee and maybe a bagel, spends some time with his girlfriend and watches the waves at the beach.
Having that downtime to himself before coming to work is a routine he incorporated about a year and half ago, instead of waking up and heading right for a ballpark.
“You know, do something during the day that is outside of baseball to kind of make things a little more normal,” Moniak said before the Angels beat the Boston Red Sox 4-0 on Tuesday.
When at his job, Moniak is hard to overlook. He’s shown his potential to be more than just the average baseball player.
Before Tuesday, Moniak went 12 for 28 with three home runs, two doubles and a triple. He has an on-base-plus-slugging rate of 1.341. Defensively, he robbed an opponent of a home run for the first time in a big league game Friday. He almost did it again Monday, flying into the stands beyond the short left-field wall.
“This is all Mickey,” manager Phil Nevin said recently. “I know he’s in a good place.”
Moniak prides himself on being a good defender but credited first base coach Damon Mashore for what he’s been able to do in the outfield. A lot of that work involves reviewing film and practicing different catches, working on reactionary stuff, Mashore said. The rest is helping put together a routine that keeps Moniak and the other outfielders feeling confident.
“That’s really the biggest thing,” Mashore said. “You’re gonna have moments where stuff doesn’t go right and it’s being able to correct it without letting it consume you.”
Moniak has been such an addition to this team since getting called back up May 12. When Jared Walsh returned from the injured list over the weekend, Brett Phillips, signed in the offseason as a free agent to be the Angels’ fourth outfielder, became the odd man out.
Moniak’s success in the outfield and at the plate has made it difficult for Nevin not to keep him in the lineup.
“I’m certainly not gonna let him sit for a long time, I can tell you that,” Nevin said. “I’ll find ways to get him in. I’m not gonna say it’s every day. Matchups will play a key in that too. But he’s earned it.”
Moniak has become a regular in the postgame on-field interviews, but his accomplishments have not been just some overnight success story.
“I think that it’s been a lot of years of learning, failing, growing,” Moniak said, “just kind of building off stuff that I do well and working on stuff that I don’t.”
Moniak was traded to the Angels from the Phillies at the deadline last season. The move, and an overall change of scenery, the Angels hoped, would unlock more of Moniak’s potential after his misfortunes in Philadelphia. Being able to play at Angel Stadium, Moniak said, has done so much more for his comfort level. And that improved performance the team hoped for, has followed.
Moniak was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft, but his career never took off the way it was anticipated when he got to the Phillies. He finally felt his best, most prepared and most mentally ready going into what would be his final spring training on the East Coast.
He was projected to make the Phillies’ opening day roster, but he fractured his right hand during the team’s final exhibition game of the spring. By the time he recovered, he was sent to Anaheim, where he hoped to regroup his season, but then got hurt two more times.