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OC Register: Angels rookie Shohei Ohtani set to go ‘full gorilla’ in next bullpen session


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ANAHEIM – Lost in translation? Explaining why he scratched Shohei Ohtani from the Angels’ lineup for Saturday’s game against the San Francisco Giants proved to be far easier for Manager Mike Scioscia than describing his oft-used phrase “full gorilla” to a gaggle of Japanese-speaking reporters.

Scioscia said he sat Ohtani because he wished to shuffle the deck after the Angels lost four consecutive games, their first losing streak of the season. He wanted get Chris Young, Jefry Marte and Rene Rivera, each of whom was hitting .300 or better, into the lineup.

Left unsaid was that the left-handed hitting Ohtani struggled Thursday against Boston Red Sox’s lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, when the 23-year-old rookie from Japan went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts overall.

Ohtani came through his light bullpen session Friday without aggravating the blister on his right middle finger that forced him from Tuesday’s start against the Red Sox after two innings. He’s scheduled to throw another one Sunday and if that goes well he’s expected to start Tuesday in Houston.

Scioscia described Friday’s throwing session as “touch and feel.”

He said Sunday’s workout would be “full gorilla.”

Longtime Angels beat reporters laughed as translator Grace McNamee did a double-take and asked for clarification on the term. Scioscia then had to explain that “full gorilla” was a phrase he uses to describe a more vigorous workout than the less strenuous “touch and feel” session.

Scioscia said he first heard the term while he was a catcher in the Dodgers’ organization in the 1970s and ’80s, although managers such as Dave Roberts, Don Mattingly, Joe Torre, Grady Little and Jim Tracy did not use it to the best recollection of a couple of local writers.

Several of the Japanese-speaking reporters had to be reassured that Scioscia was not joking. Scioscia did his best (worst?) imitation of a gorilla, complete with noises.

“That’s a term we use in the United States, meaning you go as hard as you can,” he said. “You’re throwing 100 percent. We call it ‘full gorilla.’ We have stages. There’s varying degrees of what a pitcher will do depending on what he’s trying to accomplish..”

STARTING PITCHING WOES

The Angels designated right-hander Luke Bard for assignment and recalled righty Eduardo Paredes from Triple-A Salt Lake as they attempted to bolster their overworked bullpen. They needed a fresh arm, so Paredes got the call.

They’ll need to make another move to clear a roster spot for Jaime Barria, who is scheduled to start Sunday’s series finale against the Giants. Barria won his first fill-in start, beating the Texas Rangers in his major league debut April 11. He was sent back to Triple-A immediately after the game.

Angels starters have struggled, the team’s 13-7 record to start the season notwithstanding.

It’s concerning for Scioscia.

“For us to be where we are with only four quality starts from the beginning of the season until now and averaging just 13 outs from our starting pitchers, you put all that together and it’s remarkable we have the record we do,” he said. “We have to get better.”

So far, the Angels haven’t used the six-man rotation they expected to deploy coming out of spring training. They have kept an extra reliever stashed in their bullpen because their starters haven’t pitched deep enough into games consistently enough in 2018.

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