Shuhei Ohtani, tackles the oblique puck, is out of the Angels lineup

Alden GonzalezESPN staff writerSeptember 5, 2023 at 08:04 PM ET2 minutes read

Anaheim, Calif. — Shuhei Ohtani was out of the starting lineup for the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, a day after adjusting his right oblique on his swing during hitting practice before a game.

Ohtani was still undergoing evaluations at the time Angels manager Phil Nevin spoke to the media approximately three hours before Game 1 against the first-place Baltimore Orioles, and had yet to be placed on the injured list.

It’s important to note why: Ohtani wants to keep playing.

The Angels, 10 games under .500 and 12½ games outside the playoffs, are no longer in contention. The MLS MVP race is tilted so heavily in his favor that the odds makers in Vegas stopped accepting bets weeks ago. Still, Ohtani—two months into his highly profitable free agency career while suffering a torn ulnar collateral ligament—continues to give everything he can to keep hitting.

“I think that says a lot about who he is,” Nevin said. “And just for the record – he really wants to play now. That’s something he’s upset about. He wants to play, and we want him to play. Of course we want him to play. But that’s just thanks to that.” Who is he. If you start something, you will finish it. Like I said, he wants to be there. And I know he wants it.

“But at the moment we are still assessing to see where we are. These things (oblique injuries) can be challenging sometimes, so we have to make sure of that. That’s why we’re going deeper into some testing.”

Ohtani has not spoken publicly since Aug. 9, which ended up being his penultimate start of 2023, and he is not expected to address the media until at least the end of the season. Speaking moments before Ohtani was injured late in the lineup on Monday, his agent, CAA’s Nez Balelo, said that Ohtani still plans to be a two-way player in the future and that they are still deciding on the next course of action to heal the Champions League. Cuts.

Ohtani, 29, hasn’t been home since Aug. 23, the day he learned of a new tear in his elbow, yet he’s still tied with Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Olson for the major league lead in home runs with 44. 1.066 OPS for the lead The sport, as does 9.0 FanGraphs wins above replacement (his closest AL competitor, Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager, entered play Tuesday with 5.6 fWAR).

The Triple Crown and AL home run record – which Aaron Judge hit last year – is no longer in reach, and neither is the Angels’ first postseason appearance since 2014.

However, Tuesday marked the second time Ohtani had been left out of the Angels’ starting lineup since May 2.

“He feels so much better today,” Nevin said. “He mentioned his desire to play, but I won’t let him. We’ll see how it goes.”

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