Shohei Ohtani was scratched from his scheduled pitching start a day after being hit on the right elbow by a fastball, but he will still play, slated to DH and bat second Monday night against the Rays at Angel Stadium.
José Quintana, who was originally scheduled to pitch on Tuesday, was bumped up the start for Ohtani.
"After getting hit on the elbow, I thought it would be inappropriate for him to go out and pitch on the very next day,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s sore, but it’s not too sore to swing a bat.
“It would be challenging to go out there and try to throw 95 to 100 pitches at 95 to 100 mph, so we just wanted to give it a day or two to relax, and then we’ll make another evaluation.”
Maddon did not rule out the possibility of Ohtani pitching during the latter part of Angels’ four-game series against Tampa Bay, but said the team may wait until the weekend series against the Dodgers for Ohtani to take the mound. In the meantime, members of the rotation will be bumped up a day.
Ohtani was visibly in pain after getting plunked with a 93 mph fastball by Justus Sheffield, taking several steps out of the batter’s box before dropping to a knee. An elbow guard helped soften the blow, ensuring the injury wasn’t more severe. Ohtani not only remained in the game and made three more plate appearances, but he stole second and third base off Sheffield in a miniature act of vengeance.
"How about that he stole two bases right after that? How about his at-bats after that?” Maddon said. “That's a growth moment for him. He said, ‘You’re gonna hit me in the elbow? I’m gonna steal two bases.’ I could not have loved that moment any more than I did yesterday.”
In previous years, Ohtani would take a day off at the plate before he was scheduled to pitch, but the Angels have been willing to run him onto the field at every opportunity. Ohtani has yet to miss a game this season and has been willing to take on the unique workload.
"I think to this point, he’s adjusted pretty well and I’m going to continue to follow his lead,” Maddon said.
The aggressive two-way experiment is paying dividends for the Angels, as Ohtani has dazzled on both sides of the ball.
At the plate, Ohtani has re-emerged as one of the league’s best combinations of power and speed, entering Monday with eight homers and eight steals. The right-hander has been slightly erratic on the mound through three starts (13 walks), but still possesses his strikeout stuff (23 K's).
Mayers has been one of the Angels’ top relievers to begin the season, posting a 2.51 ERA in 14 1/3 innings.
Sandoval has yet to pitch for Los Angeles this season. In nine games (six starts) last season, Sandoval had a 5.65 ERA across 36 2/3 innings.
For all the offensive firepower the Angels possess, defense remains a concern, one of the primary reasons as to why the team does not have a better record.
For Maddon, the effect of the errors is two-fold. Not only do the miscues gift the opposition extra bases or unearned runs, but they additionally tax the pitching staff.
Maddon pointed to Saturday’s 10-5 win over the Mariners as an example. While the Angels flexed their collective muscles on offense, they commited three errors on defense, leading to three unearned runs. By Maddon’s estimation, those errors cost the pitching staff 20-25 extra pitches.
“That part’s not spoken about enough,” Maddon said. “It’s not just about the error, it’s about the stress put on a pitching staff after that. All interconnected.”