Ankle sprain might keep Shohei Ohtani from making next start
The mild left-ankle sprain that knocked Shohei Ohtani out of Friday night’s game kept the Angels two-way player out of Saturday’s starting lineup against the New York Yankees and has cast some doubt as to whether he will be able to pitch Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.
“He’s a little bit sore, but I think it’s something that will be manageable,” manager Mike Scioscia said before Saturday night’s game. “We’re going to evaluate it on a daily basis just to see what he can do.”
The injury does not appear serious enough to send Ohtani, who hit his fourth home run this season in the Angels’ 4-3 loss Friday, to the disabled list.
“His status is still day to day,” Scioscia said, “which means right now, we’re not considering the DL.”
Ohtani injured the ankle when he landed awkwardly on first base while trying to avoid a collision with Yankees first baseman Neil Walker, who was scrambling to get to the bag on Ohtani’s fifth-inning grounder to the second base hole. Ohtani limped off the field and was replaced in the seventh inning.
Ohtani was limited by a right-ankle injury to five pitching starts and 202 at-bats last season in Japan, and he underwent surgery in October to have a bone spur removed from the ankle. The Angels are mindful of the fact that an injury to Ohtani’s landing foot could put the right-hander at more of an injury risk.
“Both are obviously important, but the landing foot would probably have a little more [stress] on it,” Scioscia said. “There’s more work on the front foot when you land than on the push-off foot.”
Ohtani’s injury denied fans and a large Japanese media contingent of a rematch with Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka, who held Ohtani, then 18, hitless in 11 at-bats with six strikeouts in 2013 in Japan.
It also took a dangerous left-handed bat out of a lineup with three struggling starters — catcher Martin Maldonado, hitless in his past 34 at-bats; right fielder Kole Calhoun (two for 34) and infielder Zack Cozart (five for 38, though he hit his third homer Saturday).
“When we have five, six, seven guys swinging to their capabilities, obviously [Ohtani’s injury] is mitigated,” Scioscia said. “When you have some guys who are struggling and your lineup is a little shallow, it’s a big piece.”
After giving up 10 earned runs and 13 hits, including three home runs, in 9 1/3 innings of his first two starts, left-hander Andrew Heaney moved from the third base side of the rubber, where he had been pitching since spring training, to the first base side Friday night.
Heaney gave up two runs — one earned — and five hits in five innings against the Yankees, striking out nine batters — four looking — and walking one.
“It’s where I’ve been since early in the minor leagues, so I just went back to that,” Heaney said. “I don’t think there was an immediate difference, but it’s definitely a cumulative thing, and it’s a comfort zone, too.”
Heaney believes his fastball, slider and changeup, which he throws from a three-quarter arm slot, are more effective when delivered from the first base side of the rubber.
“It’s a perception thing,” Heaney said. “I think all of my pitches play up, honestly.”
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