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OC Register: Angels move Shohei Ohtani up to No. 2 spot in the lineup

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ANAHEIM — Shohei Ohtani’s ascent in the Angels lineup has brought him to the No. 2 spot.

How long it lasts is anyone’s guess.

“This is the look right now,” Manager Mike Scioscia said before Tuesday’s game. “Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Let’s see what happens.”

As Ohtani has proved to be more than capable of hitting major league pitching, he has moved from eighth to fifth, and occasionally fourth when Albert Pujols is out. He made his debut in the No. 2 spot on Tuesday night, with Mike Trout moved to leadoff.

Zack Cozart, who had been hitting leadoff for about a week, had the day off on Tuesday. Cozart will be back in the lineup on Wednesday, Scioscia said. He did not say whether Cozart would go back to the leadoff spot.

For Trout, it was his first time hitting leadoff this season. He hit there just twice last year.

“If some guys were swinging the bats a little better, we’d look at some other things,” Scioscia said, “but right now it looks best to have Mike and Shohei ahead of Justin (Upton) and Albert and (Andrelton Simmons).”

Ohtani was hitting .348 with a .392 on-base percentage and a 1.044 OPS heading into Tuesday’s game. Trout was hitting .310 with a .448 on-base percentage and a 1.089 OPS.

While Ohtani is moving up in the lineup, his next outing on the mound is tentatively scheduled for Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, the final game of the homestand.


Martín Maldonado ought to be a role model for every slumping hitter.

Maldonado suffered through a career-worst 0-for-34 stretch in late April, which dropped his average to .156 with a .448 OPS.

When the calendar turned to May, Maldonado suddenly started a hot streak, with 14 hits in his next 24 at-bats. Although he went hitless on Monday, he woke up Tuesday having lifted his average to .267 and his OPS to .720, both numbers the Angels would be thrilled to have over a full season.

It took just two weeks.

“I’m seeing the ball good,” Maldonado said. “Trusting the process and putting a good swing on the ball. Nothing different than I was doing before.”

Maldonado said it was difficult to endure the oh-fer, but in the end he kept telling himself it was bound to turn.

“You know you’re not going to hit like that all year,” he said. “I had a lot of people talking to me about staying positive, just having good at-bats. That’s what I was focused on.”

Maldonado was off Tuesday. He has started 28 of the Angels’ first 42 games, a much more sustainable pace than last year when he led the majors with 137 games behind the plate. The Angels played him into the ground, which took a toll on his hitting, because his defense was good and they didn’t have a backup they trusted as much as they trust René Rivera.

Besides getting more rest, Maldonado has said he’s hoping to maintain his offense all season this year by doing some different work in the gym.


Keynan Middleton traveled to Cincinnati on Tuesday to get a second opinion on his elbow injury from Dr. Timothy Kremchek, a noted orthopedist. An MRI on Monday showed that Middleton has a damaged ulnar collateral ligament, which could mean Tommy John surgery that would knock him out of action for 12 to 18 months. Even if he tries a different treatment, he is likely to be out for months. …

Blake Wood (elbow impingement) said he felt good after Monday’s rehab outing at Class-A Inland Empire, and he expects to be ready after one more outing. Scioscia said Wood will pitch either Wednesday or Thursday. …

Major league baseball announced the official order of selections for the draft, which begins June 4. The Angels will pick 17th in the first round. They have no supplemental picks between rounds, so their next two selections will be 57th and 93rd.


Angels (Garrett Richards, 4-1, 4.08) vs. Astros (Justin Verlander, 4-2, 1.21), Wednesday, 6:40, Fox Sports West, KLAA (830 AM)

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