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OC Register: Should injured Shohei Ohtani go to the All-Star Game?


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MINNEAPOLIS – He is a fan favorite and a logical choice to participate in the All-Star Game, if only his health cooperates. Landing on the disabled list at the beginning of June certainly complicates this timing. Can he recover in time to play alongside the game’s best players?

This was the question facing Mike Trout last summer. Now it’s true for Shohei Ohtani.

After being diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament, Ohtani received an injection of platelet-rich plasma and stem cells Thursday. He will be re-evaluated in three weeks, knocking him out until at least the end of June.

The All-Star Game is July 17 in Washington, D.C. Ohtani is listed on the ballot as a designated hitter. He can also pitch, of course, and the idea of the two-way rookie sensation displaying even some his talents on the All-Star stage is scintillating.

Now, there are more important questions facing Ohtani. If he ultimately needs Tommy John surgery to replace his elbow ligament, his 2018 season is over – and 2019 would be in serious jeopardy too. Given his importance to the Angels as a pitcher and a hitter, could he finish the season as a designated hitter alone? Even if he could, would the team let him?

Angels general manager Billy Eppler heard these questions Friday but did not want to look too far ahead. Ohtani’s immediate future is as hazy as ever – or at least since last winter, when it was unclear which team on which continent would employ him next.

Regardless of his health, it’s not inconceivable Ohtani would be voted into the All-Star Game. He is hitting .289 with a .372 on-base percentage and a .535 slugging percentage. He’s appeared in 34 games with a bat in hand, starting all but four, and collected six home runs and 20 RBIs. Projected over a 162-game season, that would give Ohtani 29 homers and 95 RBIs.

Should Ohtani accept an invitation to D.C. regardless of whether his elbow allows him to play?

“One hundred percent,” Trout said. “The experience is unbelievable, from the Derby to the all-around All-Star Game. The atmosphere, the fans – it’s a great experience. If he gets voted in, I’m sure he’ll definitely want to go.”

Trout is a six-time All-Star. He was the second-leading vote getter last year, despite a thumb injury that ultimately left him unable to participate in the game.

“I was almost ready but I didn’t want to push it,” Trout said. “It was just one of those things that if it happened a few weeks earlier, I would have been playing.”

If Ohtani can say the same, it will come as a relief.

FONTANA RISING

Nolan Fontana, who was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday, is one of just a handful of hitters in the Angels’ system who has more walks than strikeouts this year.

Fontana, 27, has always been a patient hitter, but cutting down on strikeouts has been more difficult. In his first Triple-A game after being demoted in April, he struck out four times in five at-bats.

Since then, Fontana has drawn 20 walks to just 14 strikeouts. The secret?

“I think it comes from my set-up,” he said. “I’m setting up a little taller and my recognition of pitches, I’ve noticed, has been better. I don’t know if there’s a secret ingredient to that but I’m seeing the ball better being more upright now. I’m standing significantly taller at the start. It’s a lot more comfortable. Got down to the basics of it and it’s more comfortable for me.”

Fontana said several coaches have helped him transition out of the crouch. Why it’s been so effective is unclear, though at 5-foot-10, Fontana’s eyes were relatively low to the ground to begin with.

The upright stance hasn’t cost him any power or contact. He had hits in 11 of his previous 14 games prior to being called up. Ten of his 18 hits went for extra bases.

“We’re all trying to find that perfect spot, which there really is none,” Fontana said. “It’s comfort. As soon as something feels right you stick with it.”

ALSO

Angels radio play-by-play broadcaster Terry Smith is expected back in the booth Monday in Seattle after receiving medical attention for an irregular heartbeat Friday. He was released from a local hospital in good spirits Saturday. Jose Mota and Mark Langston handled the Angels’ radio broadcast in his absence.

UP NEXT

Angels (Nick Tropeano, 3-3, 4.35 ERA) at Twins (Fernando Romero, 2-2, 3.96), Fox Sports West, 11 a.m.

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YES -- it's good for MLB both here in the U.S. and internationally.........

I am just upset that his season may be cut short..........he was truly having a historic year.

Baseball needs Ohtani right now. Attendance throughout MLB has been slipping.

Bu crowds appear when Ohtani is on the field - either pitching or hitting.

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9 minutes ago, disarcina said:

YES -- it's good for MLB both here in the U.S. and internationally.........

I am just upset that his season may be cut short..........he was truly having a historic year.

Baseball needs Ohtani right now. Attendance throughout MLB has been slipping.

Bu crowds appear when Ohtani is on the field - either pitching or hitting.

He plays for the Angels. The rest of MLB does not care

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They just need to DH him for the rest of the season till maybe September unless they are going to Tommy John him immediately.

The Nats really botched their timing with Strasbourg the first couple years.  Strasburg dominated for 12 games during his rookie year and then was just down for Tommy John and then they timed it poorly in the following years so he ended up missing the playoff or something like that.

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29 minutes ago, Troll Daddy said:

I doubt he gets voted in ... moot point

You doubt he gets voted in?  I know you say shit just to say shit, but there isn’t a chance in hell he doesn’t get voted in.

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I don't think he should play -- if he's on the DL -- and the one report from the LA Times (few days ago now) made it sound possibly season ending type situation -- partly because they are being so cautious with his health and playing time........

but I think he should be there and introduced. 

His presence in MLB and performance on the field has been a positive for MLB here in the U.S. and internationally.

Ohtaini has been a positive force for an MLB which really needs it right now..........have him introduced at the ASG. even if he's a injured player who otherwise would have been chosen as one of the non-starting players...........what he's done so far this year on the field is historic.

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