The Los Angeles Angels suffered an extremely one-sided blowout loss to the Houston Astros on Saturday, leaving manager Joe Maddon just trying to survive nine innings without overworking anyone. This led to Shohei Ohtani’s first action in the outfield since joining the major leagues.
In the eighth innings, with game already significantly out of reach, Maddon called upon catcher Anthony Bemboom to pitch. With Maddon having already burned through the entire bench, he had no choice but to bring Ohtani into the game at left field in relief of Justin Upton. Bemboom allowed three hits and two runs in the inning, but the story was Ohtani getting to play in the outfield.
After the game, Maddon said that while he trusts Ohtani to play every single position, he doesn’t see this becoming a realistic option moving forward, according to Daniel Guerrero of MLB.com:
“That was an emergency [move], but I can see him anywhere on the field,” Maddon said. “The guy is such a great athlete. That was out of necessity today, but that’s not part of the plans, but I’m telling you he could do it.”
Interestingly enough, Maddon was not considering the idea until Ohtani approached him and said he would feel comfortable playing in left field with the use of Upton’s glove.
“Actually [Ohtani] brought it up because I was gonna do a couple different things and he said he felt very good about going into left field, so that made the move very easy.”
Ohtani is already one of the most versatile players in all of baseball. Adding the ability to play out in the field would be yet another layer of intrigue on a player who has already proven himself to be a remarkable pitcher and hitter.
However, it’s unlikely we see this again unless there is another situation where the Angels are either blowing a team out or facing a large deficit like Saturday. Beyond the fact that the team has other outfielders, there’s just no need risking anything crazy happening with a player playing outside of his natural position.
Angels injury updates
Anthony Rendon, Juan Lagares, and Max Stassi are all on the verge of being activated and returning to the lineup, Maddon said Sunday morning. The Angels have fallen off considerably since those three went on the injured list, and getting them back would be a huge step towards regaining a team rhtyhm.