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OC Register: Angels’ Shohei Ohtani in the Home Run Derby? It could happen


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ANAHEIM – Shohei Ohtani, home run derby participant?

The Angels haven’t ruled it out.

Though he’s been unable to pitch since he underwent Tommy John surgery last October, Ohtani has been a productive designated hitter since making his 2019 debut in May. Ohtani entered Sunday’s game against the Mariners batting .257 with six home runs and 22 RBIs in his first 27 games. His on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) has risen from .625 on May 27 to .762.

Ohtani’s long batting practice drives are the stuff of legend, and this might be his only major league season as a full-time hitter. Why not let him participate?

“That would be something I guess he would have to decide,” Manager Brad Ausmus said Sunday.

The league announced in March that it would award $1 million to the winner of this year’s derby, which will be held July 8 in Cleveland. The total prize pool last year was $500,000. This year it will be $2.5 million.

Ohtani’s base salary for this season is $650,000. The Angels gave him a $2.3 million signing bonus last year. The winner’s purse would do more for Ohtani’s net worth than most of his teammates. Mike Trout has never participated in a home run derby. Albert Pujols has participated in four, but none since 2015.

Since then, the format of the derby has changed. Participants last year were limited to four minutes, plus a possible 30 seconds of bonus time. If swinging for the fences repeatedly in such a short amount of time posed a medical risk to a man’s elbow, it didn’t occur to Ausmus Sunday.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler was a bit more cautious about Ohtani possibly participating in the derby.

“If that is something we are presented with,” Eppler said via text message, “we’ll look into it at that time.”

INJURY UPDATES

As expected, Trevor Cahill was formally placed on the 10-day injured list Sunday with right elbow inflammation. Because the move is retroactive to Thursday, he is eligible to be activated in seven days.

The 31-year-old right-hander said he felt tightness in the elbow in his most recent start, Monday in Chicago. He compared the severity of the pain to an incident that caused him to miss one start last year, when Cahill pitched for the Oakland A’s.

“I took a rotation off, and I started back up and treated it like an all-star break I guess,” he said. “Five days off from throwing and just started throwing again and the pain was gone.”

Cahill is 2-6 with a 7.18 earned-run average in 12 starts this season. He’s completed six innings just once in his last nine outings.

“I feel like I’ve been getting better but the results haven’t been a lot better,” Cahill said. “But as far as my stuff on the mound, I feel like it’s getting better. So it’s bad timing. But I’m hoping with extra rest I’ll come back even stronger.”

Outfielder Justin Upton (turf toe) took a day off from his minor league rehabilitation assignment with advanced Class-A Inland Empire. He will return Monday, Ausmus said.

Infielder David Fletcher was held out of the lineup with soreness in his left shoulder. Ausmus said the injury isn’t so serious that Fletcher will be placed on the injured list.

ALSO

Pitcher Dillon Peters was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake one day after picking up the win Saturday in relief against the Mariners. … Pitchers Jose Suarez and Nick Tropeano were formally recalled from Salt Lake prior to Sunday’s game. … Catcher Jose Briceño hasn’t played for Salt Lake since May 18 and is expected to be out a little while longer as he recovers from a shoulder injury, Ausmus said.

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