Shohei Ohtani takes pitch off elbow in loss, jeopardizing his Monday start

Angels batter Shohei Ohtani is hit by a pitch during the fifth inning of a 2-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
Angels batter Shohei Ohtani tries to avoid being hit by a pitch during the fifth inning of a 2-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

Kyle Seager fielded the soft ground ball, fired an easy throw to first base, and extinguished the Angels’ final hope on Sunday afternoon in a 2-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels’ most worrisome moment, however, took place about three hours earlier, when two-way star Shohei Ohtani was hit in the elbow by a pitch during the first inning.

It was a 93.4-mph fastball from Mariners starter Justus Sheffield that clipped Ohtani on his throwing arm, striking his oversized elbow pad as he unsuccessfully tried to lean back from the plate.

Ohtani immediately yelled as the ball struck him, and briefly went down to one knee. He was evaluated by trainers for several minutes and ultimately stayed in the game, taking three more at-bats and finishing the day with two stolen bases.


Angels outfielder Mike Trout, already a three-time MVP, concluded April with numbers that manager Joe Maddon says leave him in a ‘different galaxy.’

But his scheduled pitching start for Monday night is in question. Manager Joe Maddon said after the game it was too early to know how Ohtani’s status might be affected.

“He’s sore, he’s being looked at right now,” Maddon said. “I don’t know how sore it’s going to be tonight or tomorrow morning. So that’ll be something we have to look at … He might say, ‘Man, I feel great. There’s no stiffness at all.’ Or, if it is stiff, then we’ll have to make an adjustment.”

According to Maddon, Ohtani felt like he’d been struck in the funny bone on his padded elbow. The manager was encouraged by the fact Ohtani immediately stole second, and then third base later in the inning — his team-leading fifth and sixth of the season.

“Those pads are pretty good,” Maddon said. “It might have caught him right in-between the crease of the pad. But he’s fine. He would not have been able to react the way he did afterwards if there was anything more to it.”

Shohei Ohtani is hit by a pitch during the first inning of Sunday's game.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
Shohei Ohtani holds up his arm as he heads into the clubhouse after taking a pitch off his elbow in the first inning Sunday.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

Maddon said Ohtani told him the elbow was “feeling better” as the game progressed. Ohtani had it iced between at-bats and was shaking it both in the dugout and on the basepaths — at one point mimicking his throwing motion while standing at third base.

Angels manager Joe Maddon says Kurt Suzuki’s behind-the-scenes work has helped the 15-year veteran win instant credibility with Shohei Ohtani and others.

Maddon didn’t even rule out the potential of Ohtani playing both ways in Monday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Hitting Ohtani was one of several early instances of Sheffield struggling with his command. Later in the first inning, he walked Anthony Rendon. In the second, he plunked Albert Pujols on the foot. And in the third he issued a free pass to Mike Trout.

But each time, the 24-year-old left-hander escaped danger, stranding all six Angels who reached base in the first three innings en route to six scoreless.

Angels starter Dylan Bundy wasn’t so lucky. Though the right-hander avoided hard contact and walked only one batter in a six-inning outing, he gave up two runs and was charged with a loss.

The Mariners opened the scoring in the fourth inning with three singles, two of which were soft flares that dropped into shallow center field. They doubled the lead in the fifth inning after Luis Torrens hit a leadoff ground-rule double, advanced to third on a bunt and crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly.

Highlights from the Angels’ 2-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.

“I was executing pitches,” said Bundy, who racked up six strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 4.00. “They were able to find some outfield grass.”

The Angels offense didn’t pick up Bundy either. In the seventh, Max Stassi hit into a double play to erase a leadoff single by José Iglesias. David Fletcher doubled in the next at-bat, but was stranded after Ohtani hit a 104 mph ground ball right at Mariners second baseman Dylan Moore.

A one-out single by Rendon in the eighth inning brought Jared Walsh to the plate, representing the tying run, but he hit into another double play up the middle that ended the inning.

“When [your starter] goes six … and only gives up two runs, with our offense you’d like to think we’d have a better chance to win,” Maddon said. “It just didn’t play out today.”

The Angels will have to wait and see if Ohtani feels good enough to play again on Monday.

Watson to IL

The Angels placed left-handed reliever Tony Watson on the 10-day injured list Sunday because of a left calf strain. Right-hander James Hoyt was recalled from the taxi squad. Watson, who has a 1.08 ERA, described it as a minor injury and was hopeful he will be able to return after the minimum 10 days.