A sore right wrist kept Mike Trout out of the lineup for a second straight game, but the center fielder is confident he will return Saturday night against the Indians.
“It’s a lot better than it was [on Thursday],” Trout said. “I’m pretty sure I can play [Saturday].”
Trout suffered the injury on an awkward feet-first slide into third base in the first inning of Wednesday night’s 4-2 loss at Tampa Bay, jamming his right hand into the ground as he tried to avoid a tag on a stolen-base attempt by sliding to the inside of the bag.
An X-ray and MRI test revealed inflammation but no damaged bones or ligaments. Trout, who is batting .309 with a 1.083 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 30 homers and 60 RBIs, received two days of treatment. He said he did not plan to pick up a bat or try to throw on Friday.
“He’s much better than he was [Thursday] but still not at a point where he can go out and start a game,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ll see if he’s available later … but we want to err on the side of caution. When he feels he can do things with no restrictions, we’ll get him in there.”
In Trout’s absence, Scioscia moved Justin Upton to the second spot for the first time this season. Upton has hit third 82 times and cleanup 25 times.
Scioscia said the reason for the switch was to break up the two left-handed hitters at the top of the order, leadoff man Kole Calhoun and No. 3 hitter Shohei Ohtani, to counter Cleveland’s three left-handed relievers, Brad Hand, Andrew Miller and Oliver Perez.
Miller, who was dominant during the Indians’ 2016 World Series run, was activated Friday after missing more than two months because of right-knee inflammation. Hand was acquired from the San Diego Padres on July 19.
Scioscia did not rule out the possibility of keeping Upton in the second spot when Trout returns. Entering Friday, Upton had hit .355 (22 for 62) with a 1.049 OPS, four home runs and 13 RBIs in 17 games since July 12, but before that stretch, he hit one homer in 20 games. He was hitting .186 (21 for 113) with runners in scoring position on the season.
“Sometimes inspiration comes from necessity, so we’ll see,” Scioscia said. “There’s no doubt he’s getting on base better, squaring balls up better. He’s having good at-bats, drawing walks. The only thing in the last month is he hasn’t hit the ball out of the park as much.”
Sho me the way
Ohtani has extended his long-toss program to about 105 feet but still appears several weeks away from returning from a Grade 2 sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament to pitch, an injury the right-hander suffered in early June.
“There have been no setbacks … but we’ll get an idea of exactly how he’s feeling in a couple of weeks, when he gets out to 180-200 feet,” Scioscia said. “Then we’ll see when the next step might come.”
Ohtani, who hit a two-run home run in the first inning and a solo shot in the third Friday night, is also a focal point at the National Sports Collection Convention in Cleveland this weekend. On display is a unique Ohtani rookie card, signed by the slugger, that is expected to fetch about $100,000 at auction in September.