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#pounditSaturday, October 16, 2021

Angels minor leaguers accuse organization of poor treatment

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Two Los Angeles Angels minor leaguers went on the record to describe what they called inadequate treatment of players within the organization, including paying salaries too low for players to live on.

Kieran Lovegrove, a pitcher for the Double-A Rocket City Trash Pandas, said money is so tight that players are dealing with a “serious mental health crisis” about how to make ends meet. He added that he was living with six teammates in a three-bedroom apartment where one of the players sleeps in the kitchen.

“It’s gotten to the point now where there are guys who are in a serious mental health crisis because of how stressful money is here,” Lovegrove told ESPN’s Joon Lee. “I really do think it affects not only their play on the field, but I think it affects quality of life overall. We’re reaching a point now where this is actually becoming detrimental to the players’ overall health, and the owner not addressing it is [the organization] actively saying that they don’t care about the health of their players.”

Shane Kelso, a former pitcher for the low-A Inland Empire 66ers, said he retired earlier in the season due to the living conditions for players. He said the Angels paid him $1,600 a month, which was less than his monthly rent. He added that some teammates lived out of cars due to a lack of money. He said his situation was similar to many of his teammates’, as the vast majority of minor leaguers are not top picks and did not get large signing bonuses.

Both players also said access to quality food was an issue for minor leaguers. Kelso said the organization told players to consume between 3,500 and 4,500 calories per day, but only provided between 800 and 1,200. Lovegrove added that some teammates had their bodies break down because they resorted to eating fast food, which was not nutritious enough for them to maintain muscle mass.

Lovegrove accused Angels owner Arte Moreno of not “(giving) a s— about the winning side” of a minor league system and cited the lack of players the Angels’ system has produced in recent years. He contrasted it to the time he spent in Cleveland’s minor league system, where the team provided players with three meals a day and renovated weight rooms for minor leaguers.

“It’s frustrating when you’re sitting in the pen and you’re hearing guys just harp about how bad the ownership is and how bad the organization is because you don’t want guys to be somewhere that they are unhappy,” Lovegrove said. “Is Moreno completely out of touch with the reality of what it’s like to be a player? Probably. I don’t see that really changing because I don’t know that he really does care about the quality of the organization so much as the amount of money it produces.”

Angels GM Perry Minasian called the reported treatment “unacceptable” and said the team would look into it.

Treatment of minor league players has been a hot topic in recent years, particularly after the entire 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic. Some owners tried to eliminate payments to minor league players during that period, only to backpedal amid criticism from the public and even MLB players. A story like this one will only reignite that scrutiny.

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