Two-way Angels star Shohei Ohtani told manager Joe Maddon he would love to be part of the roster against the Astros on Tuesday, which would mark his third strike for himself on the same day he throws this season after never having done it before in the Majors before this year.
Ohtani had been ruled out of the roster in his last two starts on the mound, as he was held up for precautionary reasons on Wednesday after being hit by a right elbow throw three days before and on April 26, because he was dealing with a blister on his right middle finger. But he told Maddon on Monday that he would like to hit and pitch again on Tuesday, and he should be in his usual second place in sequence, with the club giving up the designated hitter for the game.
“I’ve spoken to him before, and he wants to do it,” Maddon said. “So we’re going to make some adjustments with that. ”
Maddon also spoke about how Ohtani has been able to handle his workload this season, as he’s been in the lineup for 32 of the club’s 34 games and will also make his fifth start on the mound on Tuesday. He had a few minor injuries – including two blisters on his right middle finger and his blow-by-blow elbow pain – but Maddon was impressed with Ohtani’s ability to do his job to stay on the pitch.
“Anytime there’s a launch item, it takes precedence over the day,” Maddon said. “So if he throws a side piece or does some extra work or training [for pitching], he takes priority over anything he does to be a positional player. Nothing has really changed. We just had to grapple with the blistering situation, but it looks like he might be through it. ”
Ohtani, 26, has posted a 2.41 ERA with 30 strikeouts and 19 marches in 18 2/3 innings this season as a pitcher, and he came in at .276 / .326 / .626 on Monday with 10 home runs, nine doubles and 26 RBIs in 31 games. His 10 home runs were tied for the Major League lead before Monday, and Maddon believes Ohtani has the talent to lead the Majors on home runs this season.
“Of course he can,” Maddon said. “I didn’t know what to expect. This is a plan that we made in the camp about his availability and his interpretation of it. At the moment, he continues. But I think as the season gets deeper, he might get tired, and maybe we’ll have to deal with that. But right now, he’s feeling fresh.
Rendon takes balls to the ground before Monday’s game
Third baseman Anthony Rendon, who has been out since May 3 with a bruised left knee, progressed to take the grounders onto the field ahead of Monday’s game. It was a big step for Rendon, who could return for the club’s series against the Red Sox which kicks off Friday at Fenway Park.
“I think this is a pivotal day for an assessment of when this is going to happen,” Maddon said. “He is optimistic and feels good. I have had many conversations with him.
• Shortstop José Iglesias (back) was left out of the roster for a third straight game and David Fletcher started in his place. It remains from day to day and could return as early as Tuesday.
• Wide receiver Max Stassi (concussion) is feeling better and spoke to Maddon ahead of Monday’s game. But Maddon said it was too early to know when Stassi would be allowed to return.
• Relief Chris Rodriguez (right shoulder inflammation) has not yet started his throwing program, but has received treatment and done strengthening programs in the gym. Rodriguez was placed on the injury list on Thursday, and the Angels remain optimistic it will be a short stint on the IL.