There were conflicting emotions at Angel Stadium on Monday night.
After the first inning of the Angels’ series-opener against the Cleveland Indians, star center fielder Mike Trout was forced to exit the game with a right calf strain that he seemed to sustain while running the bases.
Minutes later, Shohei Ohtani took the major league lead with his 13th home run of the season.
Ohtani’s blast, a three-run shot to right field in the second inning, instantly electrified the partial-capacity crowd. It left the bat at 105.9 mph. It traveled a projected 431 feet.
And perhaps most impressively, it came on a 1-and-2 fastball that was about half a foot above the strike zone, Ohtani’s arms almost parallel to the ground as he made contact.
It was the two-way star’s third home run in the last four games and also raised his RBI total to 32, a team high and tied for fourth most in the majors. In only his 38 games as a batter this season, Ohtani has already almost doubled his home run total from 2020, when he hit just seven in 44 games.
Trout’s injury, however, created more future concern.
After drawing a walk in the bottom of the first and moving to second base on a wild pitch, Trout took off for third when Jared Walsh popped up with two outs. About halfway to the bag, however, Trout appeared to pull up and run gingerly the rest of the way, limping to a stop as the inning ended.
When he returned to the dugout, Trout was met by a trainer and proceeded back to the clubhouse.
The Angels did not immediately announce the severity of his injury, nor say whether the three-time MVP might miss any more time.
Despite a recent one-for-19 slump, Trout was still batting .333 and entered Monday leading the majors in on-base-plus-slugging percentage (1.090). He also had eight home runs and 18 RBIs.
In July 2019, Trout suffered the same injury to his right calf but missed only three games. Trout also missed three games earlier this season with an elbow bruise he sustained on a hit-by-pitch.
Trout hasn’t been placed on the injured list since August 2018, when he had right wrist inflammation.
Fletcher progressing; Upton sits another day
Second baseman David Fletcher was out of the Angels lineup for a second straight day Monday with a hip injury.
Angels manager Joe Maddon said he doesn’t know how soon Fletcher might return, but was told by the team’s training staff that it probably won’t require an injured list stint.
Left fielder Justin Upton was also on the bench for a second straight day but for a different reason. After giving Upton a day off on Sunday amid recent struggles at the plate, Maddon opted to put Juan Lagares in left field on Monday.
After Lagares later moved to center after Trout’s injury, Jose Rojas entered the game to take over in left.
Maddon said the decision to sit Upton on Monday was simply to get Lagares, who hadn’t previously played since last Wednesday and entered Monday with only 22 plate appearances this season, some needed game action — not because of Upton’s performance this season.
“J-Up will be back out there tomorrow,” Maddon said. “I’ve already spoken to him about it. There’s nothing punitive going on. It’s about everybody. … If we’re going to ask Juan to do some things, we definitely got to get him out on the field and get some at-bats and play some defense too.”
Still, Maddon acknowledged Upton is working through some things behind the scenes. Though Upton has seven home runs this season, he is only batting .195 with a .668 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
“He’s in the cage all the time, he’s with the coaches all the time, constantly working,” Maddon said. “I’m just saying, he’s off a click. He feels really good about the work he’s done recently. So I do believe you’re going to see a very hot J-Up in the very near future.”
In other roster news: Maddon said reliever Chris Rodriguez (shoulder inflammation) has not yet resumed pitching, but did throw from 100 feet recently without issue. Max Stassi (concussion) had his “best day … in a bit” on Sunday, according to Maddon, but it’s still unclear when the catcher will return.