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OC Register: Shohei Ohtani reflects on first half of rookie season with Angels

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LOS ANGELES — Shohei Ohtani stood at the end of a long corridor running behind the visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium when he met with a gaggle of reporters Sunday morning.

Ohtani assessed his season’s first half, beginning with the lofty comparisons to Babe Ruth, penciled in the Angels’ lineup as their starting pitcher or designated hitter, to an elbow injury that has limited the two-way star for the past month.

“I didn’t set any expectations for myself,” Ohtani, a rookie from Japan, said through an interpreter. “I just wanted to see how things pan out. I think I had some ups and downs, but overall it went pretty well.”

Due to the sprained ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow, Ohtani’s appearances since June 6 have been limited to starting at DH or pinch-hitting — he bats left-handed. He may not pitch again this season, though, and will be reevaluated on Thursday, one day before the club returns from the All-Star break. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection and underwent stem-cell therapy to help heal his damaged ulnar collateral ligament last month.

As part of his rehabilitation, Ohtani has gone through strength and conditioning exercises. In the weekend series against the Dodgers, began with a double and a walk as a pinch hitter, then struck out in the ninth inning Sunday against closer Kenley Jansen.

Over the All-Star break, he said he planned to continue working out, but “mainly I’m just going to relax.”

Prior to his elbow injury, Ohtani had made nine starts for the Angels, pitching every seven days, and was 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA and 3.05 strikeout-to-walk ratio. At the plate, he has hit .283 with seven home runs and 22 RBI.

His workload as a two-way player was similar to Japan, he said, where the 24-year-old had previously played professionally.

“Nothing’s too much or too hard,” Ohtani said. “I think I’ve adjusted pretty well.”

The Angels enter the All-Star break with a 49-48 record, sitting in fourth place in the AL West, and nine games back in the wild-card race, but Ohtani was hopeful he could help the club push toward the playoffs.

“I still think we have a shot at the postseason,” Ohtani said. “We just need to take it game by game and try to win as many games as possible obviously.”

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Justin Upton was a finalist for a Gold Glove Award last season.

Several advanced metrics suggest his fielding has taken a dip this summer.

Upton, the left fielder acquired by the Angels late in the season, had eight defensive runs saved in 151 games in 2017.

Through his first 89 games this season, Upton had one defensive run saved. His ultimate zone rating, used by Fangraphs to “quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up,” has dropped from 4.4 to -1.8. Most recently, in a 5-4 loss to the Dodgers in 10 innings Saturday, a pair of line drives sailed over Upton’s head late in the game.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he had little concern.

“He does a good job in left field,” Scioscia said. “It’s just occasionally with any outfielder, you’re going to get a misread here or there.”


The Angels have not decided if Nick Tropeano will return to their starting rotation after the All-Star break or be sent on another rehab assignment, as Scioscia said the right-hander’s next step will be determined in the following days.

Tropeano has been out for a month with a shoulder injury.

With a rash of injuries to their rotation, the latest last week when Garrett Richards opted for Tommy John surgery, the Angels have been left to use as many as 12 different starting pitchers in the first half of the season.

The need for healthy arms would not spark Tropeano’s return.

“When Nick’s ready, there’ll be an opportunity,” Scioscia said. “We’re going to make sure he’s physically ready to meet the challenge. That’s the overriding factor, not what’s going on with the team.”


Angels outfield prospect Jo Adell went 1 for 4 with one RBI, including a sacrifice fly, and scored on a wild pitch in Team USA’s 10-6 win over the World in the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday afternoon in Washington D.C.

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