Andrelton Simmons was placed on the disabled list because of a right-ankle sprain on Wednesday, an injury that will sideline the team’s best defensive player and one of its most productive hitters for at least 10 days.
The shortstop was hurt minutes before Tuesday night’s game when he came down the five dugout steps and rolled his ankle on the last one. He played two innings before being removed and sent for an MRI test.
“It showed some damage in there, but nothing major that requires surgery,” said Simmons, who was still on crutches Wednesday. “I’m hoping I can come back in 10 days … but I have to play it smart. We’ll see.”
As bizarre as Simmons’ injury is, it’s not the first time an Angels player sprained an ankle in the dugout. In his first game after signing a six-year, $80-million contract, first baseman Mo Vaughn tumbled down the dugout steps pursuing a foul popup in the 1999 season opener. He missed 2½ weeks because of the injury.
But at least Vaughn was hurt in action. “Simple and stupid” is how Simmons described his mishap after Tuesday night’s game.
“I’m just pissed off that I’m gonna miss some games,” Simmons said. “That’s what’s really bothering me right now. I’ve hurt myself in similar ways before, but nothing where it caused me to lose games.”
Simmons is batting .330 with a career-high .857 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, four homers, 12 doubles, two triples, 32 runs and 34 RBIs.
He has more than twice as many walks (25) as strikeouts (10) and has a major league-high streak of 69 plate appearances without a strikeout dating back to May 18.
“He’s an important guy for us,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’re gonna have to absorb it and hopefully continue to play well.”
Third baseman Zack Cozart, a Cincinnati Reds shortstop for six years before signing with the Angels last winter, will move to shortstop. Kaleb Cowart, recalled from triple-A Salt Lake, started at third Wednesday night and can back up at shortstop. Luis Valbuena and Jefry Marte will also play some third.
“He’s an incredible shortstop,” Scioscia said of Cozart, “so for us to have that luxury to slide him over is something that other teams wouldn’t be able to do.”
The Angels will travel to Minneapolis on Thursday to begin a nine-game trip to Minnesota, Seattle and Oakland. Simmons will not be joining his teammates.
“I don’t think the trainers want to deal with me for 10 days, so I’m staying back,” Simmons said. “I can be annoying.”
Diamond in the rough
Of their 40 picks in the three-day amateur draft, which concluded Wednesday, the Angels selected 24 right-handed pitchers, four left-handers, six infielders, four outfielders and two catchers.
Among Wednesday’s picks was Cristian Reyes, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander from Miami who was selected in the 21st round. Reyes, 23, did not have a school listed. He was playing in what scouting director Matt Swanson called a “Sunday league,” but impressed scouts at a workout with his 98-mph fastball.
“Hats off to our South Florida-area scout, Ralph Reyes, for staying on him,” Swanson said, adding that the scout and pitcher are not related. “It’s a very old-school way of scouting a player.”
Albert Pujols, nursing a sore left knee, was not in the lineup for a second straight game Wednesday. Scioscia said the slugger will return on Friday, and he doesn’t expect the condition to cut too much into Pujols’ playing time at first base.
“We’re gonna manage it,” Scioscia said. “I don’t think it’s anything we can’t take care of with a little bit of rest here and there. We wanted to combine [two games off] with the off day to let him recharge.”