SEATTLE -- The Angels placed catcher Martin Maldonado on the bereavement list because of a loss in his family and selected the contract of catcher Juan Graterol ahead of their series opener against the Mariners at Safeco Field on Friday.Manager Mike Scioscia said Maldonado is expected to miss this three-game
SEATTLE -- The Angels placed catcher Martin Maldonado on the bereavement list because of a loss in his family and selected the contract of catcher Juan Graterol ahead of their series opener against the Mariners at Safeco Field on Friday.
Manager Mike Scioscia said Maldonado is expected to miss this three-game series in Seattle but will rejoin the team in Colorado next week. Backup catcher Rene Rivera started in place of Maldonado on Friday night and will likely handle the bulk of the duties behind the plate in the interim.
Graterol, 29, served as Maldonado's primary backup last season and batted .202 with a .457 OPS over 48 games. He was designated for assignment last month before being outrighted to Triple-A Salt Lake, where he is hitting .320 with a .713 OPS in 13 games.
To clear a spot for Graterol on the 40-man roster, the Angels transferred right-hander JC Ramirez, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery last month, to the 60-day disabled list.
The Ohtani brief
Shohei Ohtani threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Friday and came out of it feeling well, according to Scioscia. The Angels are hoping Ohtani will be able to return to the mound on Sunday, but they have not yet made an official announcement. The two-way phenom missed his scheduled start on Tuesday after suffering a mild left ankle sprain, though the malady hasn't been as much of an impediment on the hitting side, as he batted fifth as DH on Friday for the fourth consecutive game.
"We will see how he feels post-workout and make an evaluation if he's going to pitch Sunday or not," Scioscia said. "The medical department said running would probably come a little quicker than what he would have to do off the mound. We've seen that. But everything felt good this afternoon when he threw, and hopefully it holds up and we'll make a decision and see when he's going to fold back in."
Prior to the game, Ohtani enjoyed a brief chat in center field with Mariners great Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro transitioned to a front-office role with the Mariners on Thursday, dashing any hopes of a potential matchup between the Japanese stars this weekend.
The two have gotten together once every offseason in Japan for dinner over the last three years, but Ichiro was disappointed to not be on the bench to see his countryman play.
"I was very excited to watch him play for the first time in person," said Ichiro, who will continue to be in uniform working out with the Mariners pregame but can no longer be in the dugout during games. "I can't be in the dugout, so maybe today is the day I pull a Bobby Valentine [and put on glasses and a fake mustache]."
The 44-year-old Ichiro has been amazed by the youngster in many ways.
"You see some players -- [Hisashi] Iwakuma is one, [Yu] Darvish is another, they're pretty big guys. But this guy is just huge," Ichiro said. "You see that new generation of players coming up and maybe he's a leader of the pack in that trend.
"He's very pure, you can't help but like him. Because he can do it all and is such a good guy, maybe some people don't like him because of that. But it's hard to find something not to like about him."
Cozart still on the mend
Infielder Zack Cozart was not in the lineup for the second straight game due to back tightness, though Scioscia said he should return to action on Saturday.
"Zack's feeling much better," Scioscia said. "We're going to give him a little workout day to get back into it and he'll hit in the cages and be out there tomorrow."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Mariners beat reporter Greg Johns contributed to this report.