Even superstars need a night off once in a while, even if there is a national audience watching.
Los Angeles Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani was not in the lineup for Sunday night's game against the New York Mets. Manager Phil Nevin said before the game the reigning AL MVP approached him during the late stages of Saturday night's 11-6 victory about not starting.
“I know, he seems like Superman all the time. Even Superman took a day off once in a while,” Nevin said. “I said to him there’s a phone booth close and be ready to go."
“This (day off) happens to be a Sunday and it’s on ESPN. I know a lot of people are upset about that. The better Shohei is at the end of the season, we're going to be playing a lot more primetime games and a lot of them in October and they will get to watch him play.”
Ohtani is on an eight-game hitting streak, which is tied for his longest of the season. He has gone 11 for 31 with two home runs and five RBIs during that span and raised his batting average 15 points to .255.
The Japanese two-way sensation looked like he was briefly shaken up after an awkward slide at home plate during the third inning of Saturday's game. He was briefly limping after catcher Tomás Nido applied the tag at home on the throw by right fielder Jeff McNeil.
But Ohtani remained in the game and hit a two-run homer in his next at-bat in the fifth inning.
Nevin, who was named manager for the rest of the season after Joe Maddon was fired last Tuesday, said he has had productive discussions with Ohtani over the past week.
After struggling in 2019 under Brad Ausmus, Ohtani flourished under Maddon, who prioritized unleashing his talents on both sides of the ball. Maddon worked with Ohtani to figure out the right workload that allowed him to excel as a hitter and a pitcher.
Nevin appears as if he will have the same approach.
“Honestly, it’s up to him. It’s his. He’s great at managing his body and his time in preparing to hit and preparing to pitch. Nobody’s ever done this before, like he does,” Nevin said. “It's good to give his body a reset and we’ll get back at it on Tuesday.”
With Ohtani getting the night off, Mike Trout got a rare start at designated hitter with Tyler Wade in center field.
The Angels have Monday off before facing the Los Angeles Dodgers for two games at Dodger Stadium starting Tuesday. Ohtani's next start on the mound is likely to be Friday when the Angels open a three-game series at Seattle. He allowed one run on four hits and struck out six in last Thursday's 5-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
Ohtani is 4-4 with a 3.64 ERA in 10 starts, striking out 71 in 54 1/3 innings.
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