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Trout nearly robs Ohtani HR, adds his own

Ohtani cleared to pitch Monday after dealing with back stiffness
@RhettBollinger
July 12, 2020

ANAHEIM -- Two-way star Shohei Ohtani proved he was healthy on Sunday, drilling a home run just out of reach of superstar Mike Trout, who also homered in the intrasquad game. Angels manager Joe Maddon said via Zoom earlier in the day that Ohtani was feeling fine after dealing with

ANAHEIM -- Two-way star Shohei Ohtani proved he was healthy on Sunday, drilling a home run just out of reach of superstar Mike Trout, who also homered in the intrasquad game.

Angels manager Joe Maddon said via Zoom earlier in the day that Ohtani was feeling fine after dealing with some back stiffness after Tuesday’s outing and is cleared to make his scheduled start on Monday. Ohtani threw a bullpen on Saturday and served as designated hitter on both Saturday and Sunday, doubling on Saturday and launching a two-run homer off lefty Andrew Heaney on Sunday. Trout made a strong effort to rob it but he came up just short.

“I thought he looked really good yesterday,” Maddon said of Ohtani. “I loved that he took some swings yesterday after he threw. I thought he felt really good about himself. He had a lot of baseball confidence out of yesterday’s event. This guy is a baseball player, man. I just want him to go out there and play unencumbered. Mentally, just play.”

Ohtani remains on track to pitch once a week -- likely on Sundays -- and serve as designated hitter roughly three to five times a week this season. Maddon said the key with Ohtani is getting him to a point where he doesn’t have to think about anything, especially considering it’s his return to two-way status after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2018, which kept him from pitching last year.

“His abilities are that great that I don’t want him to get in his own way," Maddon said. "I see him gradually gaining confidence. I think his confidence in his abilities is directly proportional to him thinking less and playing more. Just go play. When you’re that good, just permit your talents to go out there and play."

Trout's first blast of intrasquad action came via a low line drive down the left-field corner for a two-run shot off Matt Andriese. Trout and the rest of the regulars have been playing in intrasquad games for two days in a row and then getting a day of rest. Trout will again be in action in Monday’s intrasquad game, with Ohtani scheduled to pitch.

Teheran still not in camp

Right-hander Julio Teheran told ESPN Deportes early this week that he hoped to join the Angels by the weekend, but he still hasn’t arrived and Maddon isn’t sure when he’ll join the club. Teheran was a lock for a rotation spot, but now his status is in doubt.

"He is not here, and I don't know,” Maddon said. “He's not been part of my daily briefings with different guys. ... I have not heard anything new from the beginning. He's still not here and we're still eagerly awaiting his arrival.”

With Teheran out, it leaves two spots in the rotation, with Andriese and Félix Peña as the two frontrunners. Andriese and Peña both pitched in Sunday’s intrasquad game at Angel Stadium, along with Opening Day starter Heaney.

Angels tidbits

• Left-hander Patrick Sandoval, who was a late arrival to camp on Thursday, threw a bullpen session at Angel Stadium on Sunday. The Angels are expected to get a clearer look at how far Sandoval is in his progression on Monday. Sandoval gives the Angels some depth at the back of their rotation. It’s unclear if he could be a relief candidate if he’s not fully stretched out to start.

• Maddon has been impressed by the hitting of catchers Jason Castro and Max Stassi so far in camp. He also mentioned Justin Upton as another player who has been locked in so far. And he's also liked what he’s seen from top prospect Jo Adell and shortstop Andrelton Simmons.

• After serving as umpire this week, Angels quality assurance coach Tim Buss -- or the "vice president of stuff," as Maddon calls him -- was replaced by real umpires on Sunday. Tom Woodring and Malachi Moore served as umpires on Sunday and will for the rest of the week. But Maddon praised Buss for his work behind the plate in the first week of instrasquad action.

“Right now, if Major League Baseball is turning on their cameras, he might have another avocation as he moves further along,” Maddon said with a smile. “He’s done a great job behind the plate. Nobody’s brought that up, but it’s true.”

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