With the Angels still not out of the postseason picture, manager Joe Maddon said he’s been using his best lineup every day to try to keep the club’s playoff hopes alive.
It’s led to Maddon benching designated hitter Shohei Ohtani for the last four games, including Wednesday’s game against the D-backs and left-hander Caleb Smith. Ohtani hasn’t started at DH since Friday, sitting against three left-handed starters and a right-hander. He's hitting .189/.287/.348 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 37 games this season.
"Quite frankly, he's not been swinging the bat well," Maddon said. "You could actually get even worse by facing some guys right now that would make it even more difficult for him. So, back off, let him regroup a little bit. I really anticipate a good result when he gets back out there. We're playing the long game here, he's going to be just fine. But for right now, in this little bubble that we're in, we're trying to get to the playoffs. I just thought this is the group to play right now to get us where we want to be in about a week or 10 days."
Albert Pujols started at DH instead of Ohtani on Wednesday and there remains a strong chance that Ohtani will not be in there on Thursday against left-hander Alex Young. Ohtani, 26, is batting .154/.298/.205 with no homers and one RBI in 47 plate appearances against left-handers this season.
“Obviously, he's coming off the ball a little bit, or a lot on occasion,” Maddon said. “But he's working, his work's been outstanding. There's been moments when you thought he was getting it all together and he's gonna get it. But again, if this is the normal April-May, he's playing and he's working through it. Right now, it's just the circumstances we're presented with causes us and me to think a little bit differently right now.”
Adell adapting to the big leagues
Rookie right fielder Jo Adell is still adapting to the Majors and said he writes daily notes to help him improve at the plate and defensively. Adell, 21, is batting .159/.215/.265 with three homers and seven RBIs in 32 games this year. He’s been mired in another slump but has seen his defense get continually better.
“Basically, half of it is mental and some of it is notes that I actually jot down,” Adell said. “I do keep hitting and fielding notes, bullets of some things that I've picked up and things that I want constant reminder of."
Angels make roster move
The Angels recalled left-hander Patrick Sandoval and optioned infielder/outfielder Matt Thaiss on Wednesday. Thaiss played in three games in September after being called up and went 1-for-11 with a solo homer. Sandoval rejoins the club but will be used as a reliever instead of a starter. He appears more likely to be used in long relief to space out his appearances.
“Moving forward, I don't want to abuse him,” Maddon said. “We'll try to set him up properly and give him adequate rest between appearances.”
Utility man Franklin Barreto is still feeling pain in his left shoulder after dislocating it on a tag play on Sept. 6 and surgery has not been ruled out. Barreto, 24, was acquired from the A's at the Trade Deadline for second baseman Tommy La Stella. He played in six games with the Angels after the trade, going 2-for-17 with eight strikeouts.
Maddon said he’ll find out more on Barreto in the coming days. But it appears highly likely that Barreto will not return this season, especially considering the possibility of needing to undergo surgery.