The Los Angeles Angels will host the Cleveland Indians in the rubber match of the three-game series on Wednesday in Anaheim, Calif.
When Angels manager Joe Maddon makes the lineup for his club, what had been his easiest daily decision has now become one of his most difficult. Instead of putting Mike Trout’s name in the lineup as the center fielder, Maddon has to consider his options to fill the gaping hole that has been created by the absence of the three-time MVP.
Trout, the major league leader in on-base percentage and OPS, is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks because of a strained right calf muscle sustained while running the bases in Monday’s game.
“When I put my head down, I thought I got hit by the ball,” Trout said. “I thought I got hit by a line drive. … And then I got to the bag and then I said, ‘Man, something’s not right.’ And then I felt a pop and then I went down to the tunnel, made sure it wasn’t my Achilles, so I mean, I guess if there’s any positive coming out of it, it’s that it wasn’t my Achilles because that’s what scared me when it first happened. It was just a freak thing.”
Maddon can’t be expected to find someone to replicate Trout’s offensive abilities, but he has some decent options to play center field. Juan Lagares, who did not start Tuesday’s game, won a Gold Glove in 2014 with the New York Mets and will get playing time in center.
Taylor Ward, who was getting starts in right field lately, started Tuesday’s game in center.
Other options include top prospects Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh, both of whom are playing at the club’s alternate training site.
“Anybody’s welcome to put themselves in a position to be considered,” Maddon said. “Absolutely. That’s the whole purpose. That’s it, it’s just gonna be based on performance. If you do well enough and the need still exists, then you might do something like that (calling up Adell or Marsh), but don’t discount what maybe Taylor Ward can do or Juan Lagares could do on a more consistent basis. We got to see that too.”
Los Angeles’ Shohei Ohtani (1-0, 2.10 ERA), who homered for the fourth time in his past five games on Tuesday, will be on the mound to make his sixth start of the season. The right-hander is coming off his best start of the year on May 11, when he gave up one run and four hits in seven innings against Houston, striking out 10 and walking only one.
The first two games of the series have allowed the Indians to get a good look at Ohtani the hitter.
“You know, he’s an incredible athlete,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Generational, I think, is a good word. I mean, this guy is a pretty amazing athlete. And to be able to do what he’s doing at this level, it’s pretty amazing.”
Right-hander Aaron Civale (5-1, 3.40 ERA) will make his ninth start of the season for the Indians. He has never faced the Angels.
Civale sustained his first loss of the season in his last outing. He yielded five runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings of a 7-3 setback to the Seattle Mariners on Friday.
–Field Level Media