Hilo’s Kean Wong didn’t have to wait long to find a fresh start.
The Los Angeles Angels claimed Wong on Tuesday a few days after he was reassigned by the Tampa Bay Rays, who gave their longtime farmhand a six-game stint in the majors before shuffling him off to create roster flexibility in the heat of a playoff race.
The versatile Wong tweeted a smiling face with a halo emoji and told KHON-TV, “I’m very excited to be able to get the opportunity with the Angels, a West Coast team that I’ve (watched) since I was young.”
In order to create a spot for the 24-year-old – a four-time minor league all-star with a career .287 average and a .342 on-base percentage – on the 40-man roster, the Angels transferred pitcher Griffin Canning to the 60-day disabled list.
Los Angeles (71-86) has five games remaining, all at home and televised on Fox Sports West, starting with a contest Wednesday against Oakland and followed by a series against Houston.
With the Angels playing out the string, the left-handed hitting Wong could be in line for more playing time than he was with the Rays, who are battling for a wild card spot.
In 14 plate appearances with Tampa Bay, the Waiakea alum and fourth-round draft pick of the Rays in 2013 collected three hits with five strikeouts, playing two games at second base and two in right field.
Angels all-star second baseman Tommy La Stella, out since July 2 with a fractured right tibia suffered on a foul ball, could return for the Astros’ series, but that would likely be as designated hitter, manager Brad Ausmus told Tribune News Service.
La Stella remains under club control for one more season, according to MLB.com. La Stella, who is making $1.35 million this year and was enjoying a breakout campaign before being injured, is eligible for arbitration for a final time this offseason.
Since Wong’s contract was selected to a major league roster for the first time earlier this month, the Angels could choose to send him to the minors next season without subjecting him to waivers.
In his 1,425 plate appearances at Triple-A Durham from 2017-19, Wong slashed .286/.350/.413 (batting average/on-base/ slugging) spending time at second, third, all three outfield positions, and shortstop in 2019.