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Simmons to IL (ankle sprain); Ohtani improves

@RhettBollinger
May 21, 2019

ANAHEIM -- The Angels suffered a tough 3-1 loss to the Twins on Monday, but it was injuries to shortstop Andrelton Simmons and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani that cast a dark cloud at Angel Stadium. In a scary eighth inning, the Angels saw both Ohtani and Simmons suffer injuries in

ANAHEIM -- The Angels suffered a tough 3-1 loss to the Twins on Monday, but it was injuries to shortstop Andrelton Simmons and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani that cast a dark cloud at Angel Stadium.

In a scary eighth inning, the Angels saw both Ohtani and Simmons suffer injuries in back-to-back at-bats against lefty Taylor Rogers. Simmons is headed to the injured list with a Grade 3 (severe) left ankle sprain, the club announced on Tuesday. Simmons, who underwent an MRI exam on the ankle and is expected to see a foot and ankle specialist on Wednesday, injured himself at first base while trying to beat out a throw to Rogers on a grounder to first.

Ohtani, who was hit on his right ring finger with a 94-mph fastball while swinging at a third strike from Rogers, reported feeling better on Tuesday afternoon and was available to play in Tuesday's game against the Twins.

"Shohei's [injury], by all indications, he should be fine," Angels manager Brad Ausmus said after Monday's game.

Ohtani, who returned as the club's regular DH on May 7 after undergoing Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1, was looked at by trainer Adam Nevala and Ausmus after being hit on his hand while swinging.

Simmons followed with a grounder to first baseman Willians Astudillo and tried to beat out the throw ahead of Rogers at first base, but Simmons took an awkward step to the first-base bag, which caused him to roll over his left ankle. Simmons couldn't put weight on his ankle as he left the field.

"You guys saw the replay. It's tough," said center fielder Mike Trout. "The way he plays, he plays hard, 100 percent. You can't tell him not to. He's always been doing that, lunging at the bag, trying to get a hit. It was a big situation in the game. If he gets on base there, a two-run homer ties it. So it's tough, especially if you lose a guy like Simba."

Both players are key to the Angels this season, as Simmons is generally regarded as the best defensive shortstop in the Majors, while Ohtani is a major part of the lineup with his prodigious power.

The injuries came after reliever Ty Buttrey served up his first homer in the Majors in the top of the eighth inning to Miguel Sanó. Buttrey entered with a career 1.80 ERA in 40 innings, including a 0.76 ERA in 23 2/3 frames this year, but he gave up a go-ahead homer to Sano on a 2-0 fastball that caught too much of the plate. It came after the Angels tied the game on a two-out RBI single from Tommy La Stella in the seventh.

"That was a pretty creepy inning," Buttrey said. "That escalated very quickly. Ohtani getting hit and Simba going down and me giving up the [homer], you couldn't have drawn it up any worse than that. But that's how this game goes. You hate to see it. ... Those guys are huge parts of our lineup and great teammates. I hope they recover just fine."

With Simmons out, the Angels recalled infielder Luis Rengifo from Triple-A Salt Lake and are expected to use a combination of David Fletcher and Zack Cozart at shortstop.

"Obviously you can't change it now," Trout said. "Next guy up. ... Whoever comes up, obviously we have Tommy and Fletcher's been doing unbelievable this year. Next guy mentality, that's the way we've got to look at it."

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.