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Ohtani expects swift return from ankle sprain

Scioscia uncertain whether phenom will start on mound Tuesday
MLB.com @mi_guardado

ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani, who suffered a mild left ankle sprain in Friday night's series opener against the Yankees, sat out on Saturday against fellow Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka. Ohtani said his ankle is improving and he believes he'll be ready to hit on Sunday and make his next scheduled start on the mound Tuesday, though he acknowledged that the decision is out of his hands.

"It's feeling a lot better," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara following the Angels' 11-1 loss to the Yankees. "I feel like I'll be fine to make my next start, but ultimately the decision is not up to me. It's up to the medical staff and the front office and the coaches. I'm just going to take it day by day."

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ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani, who suffered a mild left ankle sprain in Friday night's series opener against the Yankees, sat out on Saturday against fellow Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka. Ohtani said his ankle is improving and he believes he'll be ready to hit on Sunday and make his next scheduled start on the mound Tuesday, though he acknowledged that the decision is out of his hands.

"It's feeling a lot better," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara following the Angels' 11-1 loss to the Yankees. "I feel like I'll be fine to make my next start, but ultimately the decision is not up to me. It's up to the medical staff and the front office and the coaches. I'm just going to take it day by day."

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Manager Mike Scioscia, for his part, said nothing is definitive and wouldn't commit to Ohtani being in the lineup as DH on Sunday against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia.

"We're going to evaluate it day to day," Scioscia said. "In understanding Shohei's history and talking to his manager in Japan and pitching coach, he's never going to back down. He's always going to want to go out there and pitch or play, so we have to be the ones that make some of the decisions just to make sure he's 100 percent. That'll come from our medical department. We haven't ruled anything out, and we'll just go day to day."

Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was also scratched from Saturday's lineup with a sore right forearm. Simmons originally sustained the injury on Sunday after being drilled on the arm by a fastball from the Giants' Johnny Cueto. Zack Cozart started at shortstop in place of Simmons, with Luis Valbuena manning third and Jefry Marte playing first base. Albert Pujols served as the designated hitter in Ohtani's stead.

"It just kind of got a little bit sore overnight," Scioscia said. "We want to take every precaution to make sure he's 100 percent, playing a demanding position. We'll see how he feels tomorrow."

Video: Must C Crushed: Ohtani crushes a homer vs. Severino

Ohtani belted his fourth home run of the season off Yankees right-hander Luis Severino on Friday before being forced to depart with the ankle injury. The 23-year-old two-way phenom tweaked his ankle after landing on the bag awkwardly while attempting to beat out a broken-bat grounder in the fifth inning. Ohtani limped off the field and was later replaced by pinch-hitter Valbuena.

A right-handed pitcher, Ohtani pushes off with his right foot and lands with his left foot, and his stability could be affected by the sprained ankle.

"Both are obviously important, but the landing foot has a little bit more work on it," Scioscia said.

Ohtani said he expects to throw his normal bullpen on Sunday, so he should have a chance to test his ankle's progress then.

Without Ohtani and Simmons' bats in the lineup, the Angels mustered only one run -- a fifth-inning solo shot by Cozart -- against Tanaka over six innings. Ohtani's sprained ankle prevented him from facing Tanaka for the first time since 2013, when he went 0-for-11 with six strikeouts against his countryman as an 18-year-old rookie in Japan. Ohtani said he was disappointed to sit out Saturday's game, though not because he missed out on a rematch with Tanaka.

"Not that the fact that it was Tanaka, but I want to play in as many games as possible," Ohtani said. "I think playing in more games is going to help me get in a better rhythm. In that sense, I was disappointed."

Worth noting
• Right-hander Jake Jewell, who is ranked the Angels' No. 27 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was promoted to Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday. Jewell, 24, opened the season at Double-A Mobile and logged a 2.08 ERA with 11 strikeouts and two walks over 13 innings in seven relief appearances.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani