Notes: Ohtani big off bench; Adell powers up

May 24th, 2021

It was supposed to be a day off for two-way sensation on Sunday, but he came through with a game-tying pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the seventh inning of an eventual 6-5 win over the A's and remained in the game in right field for the final two innings. The line drive to right field off lefty Reymin Guduan had an exit velocity of 110.9 mph.

Ohtani has now played in all but one of the Angels' 47 games, as he wasn't in the lineup for the opener of Thursday's doubleheader against the Twins. Otherwise, Ohtani has made six starts on the mound and has been in the lineup in four of those outings.

He entered Sunday leading the Majors in extra-base hits with 28 and total bases with 104. He also has a 2.37 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings as a pitcher and is tentatively scheduled to start on Friday against the A’s in Oakland.

Sunday's appearance marked the fourth time this season that Ohtani played in the outfield and his third time playing right field. He previously was moved to right field twice after his starts on the mound to keep his bat in the lineup for an extra plate appearance, also playing left field in a blowout loss to the Astros on April 24.

Angels manager Joe Maddon said he gave Ohtani advanced warning that he was likely to pinch-hit late in the game and told him he also planned to keep him in right field -- and Ohtani was on board with it. No balls were hit Ohtani’s way in right field during his stint on Sunday.

"It was something that was set up an inning or two in advance," Maddon said. "I wanted him to face a right-handed pitcher but it wasn't going to happen. It just happened that way, with the bases loaded for him. If he would've hit that ball higher, it would've went so far."

Ohtani also went 2-for-4 against the A's with a double and an RBI triple on Saturday, earning high praise from Oakland right-hander Chris Bassitt. The slugger is batting .268/.319/.619 with 14 homers, 11 doubles, three triples, six stolen bases, 35 RBIs and 32 runs scored in 44 games.

"People watch Ohtani and they realize how good he is, but from a baseball standpoint, they have no clue how good he is," Bassitt said. “They really don't. He should be the front-runner for MVP. And he could have one of the most historic careers, if he stays healthy, [that] we've ever seen. He’s a world-class hitter. He’s one of the very few guys in the league that's able to get completely fooled, yet beat you at the same time, which you saw in the last at-bat. It’s beyond impressive at this point, what he’s done and what he’s doing."

Adell showing power at Triple-A
Former top prospect Jo Adell homered twice on Sunday and has five blasts over his last four games. He's batting .261 with nine homers, four doubles and 17 RBIs in 16 games. But he's also struck out 26 times in 76 plate appearances, so the Angels still believe he has things to work on before he's called up.

"I know he's making some progress, but we still think he has things to work on," Maddon said. "It's one of those things, you just have to wait. My opinion, you don't just want to force somebody into a role here because you feel as though there's a need. You can actually hinder or stifle development if that player arrives too quickly without the ingredients to be successful up here. So that's what I'm hearing."

Other notes
• With Ohtani out of the lineup on Sunday, Maddon decided to mix it up, moving left fielder Justin Upton to the leadoff spot for the first time in his career, while also utilizing center fielder Juan Lagares at cleanup -- also for the first time in his career. The only lefty in the lineup was first baseman Jared Walsh, who was moved down to the sixth spot in the order.

• Infielder Matt Thaiss has been working to increase his versatility at Triple-A Salt Lake, as he’s been catching again. He was originally drafted as a catcher in the 2016 Draft but was converted to first base and has also seen action at third base, second base and in the outfield.

• Rookie reliever Chris Rodriguez, who has been out since May 5 with right shoulder inflammation, threw a bullpen session on Saturday as he continues his throwing program. He also threw one on Tuesday and is nearing a return.