Shohei Ohtani will start on the mound for the Los Angeles Angels Friday in the second game of a four-game series against the Seattle Mariners in Anaheim, Calif., but Angels manager Joe Maddon was undecided whether Ohtani would hit for himself in the lineup.
In Ohtani’s seven starts this season, he has batted in the lineup four times, with the Angels giving up the designated hitter. Ohtani (1-1, 2.72 ERA) prefers to hit when he’s pitching, but a dip in his velocity a couple of starts ago raised concerns about possible fatigue.
Another issue for Maddon to consider is the depth of the bench. The Angels currently have three bench players on the roster.
“When you have a normal bench with three to four extra guys, rock and roll, it’s easy, but when it’s two or three guys, it becomes more problematic,” Maddon said Thursday. “So I sit in the morning and I do this stuff and write down all the different potentialities and what may occur. If you roll with it, the worst part would be being forced to have a pitcher hitting in that spot early in the game. That’s the worst thing that can happen.”
Ohtani is coming off his only loss of the season, when he gave up three runs on three hits and four walks in six innings last Friday against Oakland. Ohtani has made one career start against Seattle, giving up two runs in six innings to earn a victory.
Offensively, Ohtani leads the club in runs scored (35), triples (three), home runs (15), RBIs (40) and stolen bases (seven), which is why Maddon doesn’t want to lose his bat in the lineup.
“We’ll talk to him,” Maddon said. “We have a couple guys available off the bench. I haven’t decided. But you can see the difference when he’s in the lineup.”
Right-hander Robert Dugger (0-1, 6.23 ERA) will start on the mound for Seattle. He’s made just two starts this season and failed to last as long as four innings in either one. He’s faced the Angels once in his career, giving up two runs in a three-inning relief appearance.
Of greater concern to the Mariners is what they will do about center field, after general manager Jerry Dipoto indicated that Kyle Lewis, the American League Rookie of the Year in 2020, could be out months with a torn meniscus in his right knee.
“My guess is that it is going to result this time in a bit of a prolonged absence,” Dipoto said on 710 ESPN radio in Seattle. “I am hopeful that we’ll see him again this year on the field, but I don’t think it’s going to be quick. We’re going to take our time and identify how we can help, and Kyle needs to make some decisions on what he wants to do. Again, I don’t think this is going to be days and weeks. I think it’s going to be longer than that.”
Jarred Kelenic started Thursday’s game against the Angels in center field, going 0 for 3 with a walk and run scored, in the 6-2 win. Taylor Trammell also figures to get starts in center. As for Lewis’ cleanup spot in the order, first baseman Ty France has been moved up from the No. 5 spot.
–Field Level Media