Angels rookie Shohei Ohtani wasn’t scheduled to pitch vs. the Twins this weekend at Target Field but was expected to appear as a designated hitter. But, in a stunning turn of events, he will miss the series and might not be seen for some time.
Ohtani was put on the 10-day disabled list Friday because of a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and will be out at least a month. But the injury is more troubling than that — Yahoo Sports reported in December that Ohtani had a Grade 1 sprain and had a platelet-rich plasma injection in October to treat it.
Now Ohtani has a Grade 2 sprain, which is worse. It means there is some tearing in the ligament. But the Angels will try another PRP injection and hope for the best.
This weekend would have marked Ohtani’s first games in Minnesota, but Twins fans will be unable to see him here until next season — and Angels fans now are afraid they might have to wait just as long. The absence of the two-way star is a blow to one of the best stories in baseball this season.
The Twins played against Ohtani during a four-game series in Anaheim last month and came away impressed. He went 3-for-8 at the plate with a home run, a double and two RBI against them, then held them to one run over 6⅓ innings while striking out 11 on May 13.
“I didn’t get a chance to watch his batting practice in Anaheim but some of the guys just were in awe of the power display,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We got a glimpse of both his offensive and pitching prowess when we were out there. I wish him well. I think guys like that and stories like that are really good for the game. Hopefully it’s not a long-term deal.”
The Angels also placed infielder Kaleb Cowart on the DL because of a left ankle sprain. infielders Jose Fernandez and Nolan Fontana were called up to replace them. Los Angeles now has five key players on the DL.
For the first time in his 343-game major league career, Miguel Sano batted seventh in the Twins lineup.
“Just been thinking about it for a while and how to help him try to get back on track,” Molitor said. “Not the first guy that’s been dropped down around here. I just thought it was the time to give him a little bit different look in the lineup. How much hitting in the 3-hole and 4-hole has added to the burden, I can’t really measure that.”
Sano earned the drop by batting .184 with two home runs and 11 RBI in 12 games since returning from the DL for a left hamstring strain. He hit an RBI double Friday when his grounder to third hopped over the glove of third baseman Luis Valbuena, but Sano followed that with three more strikeouts.
Molitor was asked about Sano hitting balls to the opposite field lately, and said it was the result of being late on many pitches. Sano, Molitor added, appears to be guessing what is about to be thrown instead of reacting to the pitch.
“I think a lot of balls I’ve seen him hit over there are balls he’s getting beat on,” Molitor said. “It’s one thing when you stay on offspeed pitch and drive it through the right-center field gap, but I think some of those fly balls to right are — he’s trying to see it a little bit longer, so it makes sense that it’s getting a little deeper on him. but you start getting in between, a little late on the fastball, a little ahead on the offspeed. You’ve got to try to find that right balance there.”
Three picks sign
Catcher Ryan Jeffers, drafted in the second round from North Carolina Wilmington; outfielder DaShawn Keirsey, a fourth-rounder from Utah; and catcher Chris Williams, an eighth-rounder from Clemson, signed with the Twins on Friday. All will be assigned to Elizabethton of the Appalaichian League.
The Twins are closing in on deals with several more of their picks from the draft, which was held earlier this week.