Angels superstar Mike Trout was scratched from Friday’s lineup against the Astros due to a left elbow contusion. He is considered day to day.
Trout was hit on the left elbow by a 93.1 mph fastball thrown by Houston’s Cristian Javier in Thursday’s game and later exited. He was initially in the Angels’ lineup Friday, batting third and playing center field, but was scratched shortly thereafter.
"Just some soreness, so we'll take it day to day," Angels general manager Perry Minasian said. "It's so early in the season, and there's such a long way to go. One thing about Mike is he loves to play and it takes a lot to get him out of the lineup, but with where we're at today and the amount of soreness he has, we thought it was best for him to take the day."
Scott Schebler took Trout’s place in center in the team’s updated lineup, batting in the eight-hole. Left fielder Justin Upton was moved up from fifth to third in the order.
Even by his lofty standards, Trout is off to a spectacular start this season, hitting .393/.521/.804 (MLB-leading 267 OPS+) with six homers, 12 RBIs and 15 runs scored in 17 games.
Angels manager Joe Maddon added that he believes Trout should be ready to return to the lineup on Saturday.
“He’s just sore,” Maddon said. “Even though the ball hit the pad, it pierced it somehow. Just the extension part of it was pretty sore. But I really believe he should be ready to go for tomorrow.”
Rendon, Stassi and Lagares nearing return
Third baseman Anthony Rendon has continued to make progress with his strained left groin but remains more likely to be activated early next week, when the Angels play the Rangers in Texas. Catcher Max Stassi (left thumb sprain) and right fielder Juan Lagares (left calf strain) could return at some point this weekend against the Astros. But Stassi and Lagares weren’t quite ready to be reinstated on Friday.
The Angels, though, don’t quite have a certain day in mind for Rendon, but he’s doing better.
“The intensity has picked up the last couple days so hopefully it’s sooner than later,” Minasian said. “Not necessarily a certain day yet, but the more swings he takes, the more infield he takes and the more he runs the bases and the more intensity he does those things, the quicker he'll get here."
Minasian pleased with pitching despite ERA
The Angels entered Friday with a 9-8 record, buoyed by an offense that has the fourth-best OPS in baseball, while their pitching has posted 4.89 ERA, which ranks as the second-worst mark in the Majors. But Minasian believes the pitching staff will get settled as the season goes along because there are several key indicators that show they’ve suffered from bad luck.
The staff has the eighth-best strikeout rate in the Majors and they've kept the ball in the park but have been hurt by a high walk rate and a batting average on balls in play of .319. That's the highest mark in the Majors and should normalize with time. They’re also third in the Majors in groundball rate. Angels pitchers also rank first in hard-hit percentage, as only 25.2 percent of the balls put in play so far have been categorized as hard-hit by Fangraphs.com.
"A couple things that stand out to me is our groundball percentage and our strikeout percentage," Minasian said. "We're one of the better teams in those two areas. We're in the Top 5 in groundball percentage and swing-and-miss is really important.”
Ohtani scheduled to start Monday in Texas
Two-way star Shohei Ohtani came out of his start on Tuesday without any issues related to his blister on his right middle finger and is slated to take the mound again in the series opener against the Rangers on Monday. Ohtani was limited to 80 pitches in his last start, but there will be no restrictions on him going forward and he’ll be a normal part of the six-man rotation.
“We’re not going to hold him back,” Maddon said. “He feels really good and really strong. The next day, he’s sore but not abnormally sore. He’s done very well. The bigger concern would be the blister but that seems to be in order right now so he’s going to just pitch.”