On planned day off, Ohtani joins late rally

April 6th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- The Angels gave two-way star a planned day of rest on Monday after serving as designated hitter for the club’s first three games, then both hitting and starting on the mound on Sunday.

Ohtani lobbied to serve as DH on Monday, but Angels manager Joe Maddon wanted to back off and keep him out of the lineup until Tuesday. It was another indicator that Ohtani is fine after landing awkwardly at home plate on Chicago’s José Abreu on Sunday.

“He wanted to get back out there today,” Maddon said. “But I told him to reevaluate those four pretty eventful days, physically and emotionally. But it was great he wanted to get back out there.”

Ohtani was available off the bench and made a pinch-hit appearance as part of a four-run rally in the eighth inning of the Angels' 7-6 comeback victory. He was hit by a pitch on the leg by Joe Smith, whom Ohtani stared down as he made his way to first, showing the animosity between the two clubs on a night in which both an inflatable and a real trash can were thrown onto the field by fans. Ohtani eventually scored the go-ahead run on a fielder's choice throwing error.

Ohtani, 26, went 3-for-16 with two homers and three RBIs over those four games against the White Sox; the Angels also petitioned for a three-base error charged to Abreu to be ruled a triple. As a pitcher, Ohtani allowed three runs (one earned) on two hits and five walks while striking out seven over 4 2/3 innings on Sunday. He reached 100 mph nine times, including a max velocity of 101.1 mph, while also smacking a solo homer that left the bat at 115.2 mph and traveled a projected 451 feet, per Statcast.

With two outs and two runners in scoring position in the fifth, Maddon left Ohtani in to face Yoán Moncada. Moncada struck out, but the ball got past catcher , whose throw to first base was wild. The return throw home from sailed high and Ohtani got his feet caught from under him by Abreu's slide. Even though it didn’t work out and Ohtani exited without finishing the inning, Maddon believes keeping Ohtani in to that point was the right move, because Ohtani had only given up two hits and gained confidence by being allowed to stay in.

“I couldn’t have brought anybody in for that moment that I feel more confident about than him,” Maddon said. “There were a lot of things to weigh there, but confidence both ways -- he feels confidence from the bench and in us because we gave him the opportunity.”

With Ohtani out, served as DH against the Astros, with at first base.

Canning scratched, Bundy to start
The Angels will start right-hander in the series finale against the Astros on Tuesday, as right-hander was scratched from his scheduled start after warming up in the bullpen in Sunday’s wild 7-4 win over the White Sox.

Canning, though, is healthy and will make his first start of the season on Thursday against the Blue Jays after an off-day on Wednesday. Bundy will be pitching on regular rest because the club has a six-man rotation to open the year.

Bundy is coming off a solid showing in his season debut against the White Sox on Opening Day on Thursday, allowing three runs over six innings with six strikeouts. He was informed of the possibility of starting on Tuesday before Sunday’s game, as the Angels had a depleted bullpen and Canning was the club’s emergency long reliever.

“He knew once our bullpen was getting loaded up with a lot of work,” Maddon said. “Both him and Griff knew about it before getting to the ballpark.”

Maddon pointed out that the six-man rotation gives the club more freedom to use a starting pitcher in long relief, if necessary, because whoever fills in on short notice would still be pitching on regular rest. He said it’s important to communicate with the starters, however, so that nothing comes as a surprise and they are prepared for their outing.

“The six-man rotation has some advantages to it,” Maddon said. “Last night, it was kind of a cover blanket that you normally don’t have. You do sometimes keep that long guy in your bullpen, but they get used sometimes and then you’re naked. So yeah, the sixth guy did come into play.”

Angels tidbits

• The Angels announced they will be playing 16 games against the D-backs at Salt River Fields in Arizona as part of their alternate site schedule. Fans are not allowed at the games.

• Maddon said he still hasn’t decided when infielder José Rojas will make his first career start. Rojas struck out in his Major League debut against White Sox closer Liam Hendriks on Friday and was on deck to pinch-hit Sunday when Walsh smacked a walk-off three run homer.

• The Angels announced their player development staff for the 2021 season, with Lou Marson as the manager of Triple-A Salt Lake, Jay Bell the skipper for Double-A Rocket City, Andy Schatzley the manager at Class A Advanced Tri-City, Jack Howell the skipper at Class A Inland Empire, Dave Stapleton the manager of the Arizona League Angels and Hector De La Cruz the skipper for the Dominican Summer League Angels.