The Angels’ season seems to have come crashing down all at once.
General manager Perry Minasian announced Wednesday that two-way star Shohei Ohtani will not pitch again this season due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and fellow star Mike Trout also will be heading back to the injured list. And the Angels lost both portions of a doubleheader against the Reds.
Ohtani was removed early in the first game for what the team initially called arm fatigue. After testing and scans were completed and evaluated, Ohtani was diagnosed with a right UCL tear. The Angels did not disclose how significant the tear in his elbow was.
Trout, who did not play in either of Wednesday’s games, was experiencing soreness Wednesday after playing on Tuesday, his first game back since having surgery July 5 to remove the fractured hamate bone in his left hand. Minasian said Trout’s hand was not feeling right after swinging on Tuesday. The Angels decided it was best to shut him down again.
Ohtani, who usually speaks to the media only on days he pitches, was not made available after the game — the first of the doubleheader — because he was still being evaluated. He was in the starting lineup batting second as the designated hitter in the nightcap.
Minasian said the Angels and Ohtani were aware of the tear before the second game and he wanted to stay in the lineup.
Ohtani is now considered day-to-day at designated hitter. The team is seeking a second opinion as it evaluates his injury. The Angels have not determined whether he will need surgery.
Ohtani was not made available for comment Wednesday night.
“As far as plans and details, I don’t have those yet,” Minasian said. “Obviously he hit the second game. He’s played with this in .”
Ohtani previously tore his UCL in the middle of the 2018 season and missed about a month’s worth of games before returning as the designated hitter. He had Tommy John surgery at the end of the year.
“But with that being said, we’ll take it day by day and see where it goes,” Minasian continued. “So obviously disappointing news. I feel terrible for him. But it is what it is and I know if anybody can bounce back it’s him.”
In Game 1, Ohtani delivered a 94.2 mph pitch, which Christian Encarnacion-Strand fouled off. After that pitch, Nevin, trainer Mike Frostad and interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, along with the rest of the infield, went out to Ohtani on the mound. Ohtani departed soon after.
“Any time someone leaves a game in the second inning, you’re worried about an injury, sure,” Nevin said after the first game. “And we certainly saw velocity tick off there in the first … I was noticing the shapes on his pitches, which we have information on, just weren’t the same. And I just saw a look after a pitch and decided to go out there and check on him. So that’s where we’re at.”
Earlier in the first game, Ohtani hit his major league-leading 44th home run to give the Angels a 2-0 lead. Starting pitcher Tyler Anderson jogged out from the bullpen to replace Ohtani — who recorded four outs, two by strikeout — on the mound and Nolan Schanuel came in to pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the third inning.
Ohtani had missed his last scheduled start because of arm fatigue. He was expected to have a normal start Wednesday, Nevin said before the game.
Ohtani had been pulled early from games three other times in the last several weeks because of various ailments.
After pitching the first complete game of his MLB career in Game 1 of a doubleheader in Detroit on July 27, Ohtani was pulled before his at-bat in the sixth inning of the second game of the day because of body cramps. He was pulled before his at-bat in the ninth inning of a game against the Blue Jays in Toronto the next day. And cramping in his right middle finger limited him to four innings in his start on Aug. 3 against the Mariners. After that game, he acknowledged fatigue was a factor.
When asked whether the heavy workload caused Ohtani’s injury, Minasian responded: “No. He performed for multiple years doing what he’s done. I think, just, injuries happen. It’s part of the game. I’ve seen pitchers with a lot less workload have injuries and it’s just the way the game is. It’s a tough business.”
The general manager was peppered with questions about the circumstances surrounding Ohtani’s injury.
When asked whether the team was aware Ohtani might have been trying to manage an existing ailment through the season, Minasian said: “No, we did not. He never complained about anything. He had cramps. He was dehydrated. Today is the day he came out of the game and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got some pain in the elbow area.’ And that’s the first we’ve heard of any type of pain.
“… Our relationship over the last three years,” Minasian added, “it’s based off communication and trust. We trust him and he trusts us. We listen to him. He knows his body. He knows where he’s at. … If he needed to skip a start, we said, ‘Fine.’ This was something that happened today. I don’t know on what particular pitch.”
Minasian said Trout’s biggest challenge continues to be pain tolerance.
“He had played last night, it just didn’t feel right,” Minasian said. “Just from talking to him this morning. He was in very early for treatment. And he’s doing everything he can to get back on the field. He knows we need him, he’s dying to play.
“It’s a significant injury that he’s coming back from. The last thing you want to do is him start compensating for his hand and doing other things and hurting other body parts. So we’re gonna give it 10 days to let it calm down.”
Ohtani departed Wednesday’s first game with the Angels ahead by two runs. They tacked on one more run in the bottom of the third on a double by Luis Rengifo, which scored Andrew Velazquez.
The Reds rallied to take the lead in the top of the fifth inning after a costly throwing error by Velazquez allowed Matt McClain to reach first, with Luke Maile advancing to second. Then the Reds rookie sensation Elly De La Cruz hit a three-run home run on Anderson’s four-seam fastball.
De La Cruz also hit a bases-clearing triple in the seventh inning as the Reds continued to pile on the Angels in the late innings.
Rengifo, who fell a home run short of the cycle, scored the Angels’ final run after reaching on a triple in the seventh.
The Angels lost the first game of the doubleheader 9-4, then the second game of the night 7-3.
In Game 2, Ohtani went one for five at the plate, getting his first hit in the fifth by sprinting for a double. On that hit, he also propelled recently drafted rookie Nolan Schanuel into scoring position. Ohtani and Schanuel — who was playing in just his sixth MLB game and went two for three with two walks and his first career RBI — scored the Angels’ second and third runs of that game, driven in by Rengifo’s single later in the inning.
The Angels finished their night 61-67 and 10½ games behind the Seattle Mariners for the final American League Wild Card spot.