Los Angeles Angels outfielder Justin Upton missed the team’s last two games due to back issues. Given all of the Angels other injuries, there were concerns that Upton might also need to go on the 10-day Injured List, as it was the trend for multiple other players.
However, after two missed games and a day off, Upton was back in the Angels lineup on Friday against the Minnesota Twins. Not only did he play, he was instrumental in the team’s 10-3 win, hitting a grand slam to help put the game out of reach.
When asked about his injury, Upton said that he had some back stiffness that came from a bad night’s sleep in a Kansas City hotel, according to J.P. Hoornstra of The O.C. Register:
“We travel a lot and sometimes you sleep bad, just like somebody does when they wake up to go to work in the morning,” he said. “Sometimes you just sleep bad, your body doesn’t respond well to the bed, and you end up with some back tightness. I’m going to attribute it to that. At the end of the day, I got through it in two days. I don’t think it’s going to be a chronic thing.”
Freed from the constraints of a Kansas City hotel mattress, Upton returns to a ballpark where he’s hit six of his last nine home runs.
“As athletes, we put a lot of thought into what kind of bed we’re sleeping on,” he said. “I feel pretty good. I feel confident that my bed at home is not going to trigger anything.”
Luckily, this wasn’t a long-term injury, as the Angels could not handle losing more depth in the outfield. As it stands, they have already lost Dexter Fowler for the season and Juan Lagares to the 10-day IL.
With Upton back in the lineup and hitting grand slams, perhaps a bad night’s sleep was legitimately the issue. However, as Upton is 33 years of age, short-term injuries do have a tendency to linger. In 2019, a turf toe issue in spring training led to Upton being out for three months.
The Angels will likely monitor Upton’s back carefully over the next few days, giving him off days whenever needed. It will be interesting to see if he returns to playing every day immediately or if there are more games off coming in the near future.
Shohei Ohtani’s pitching status still unclear
The Angels have not yet provided an update on Shohei Ohtani’s blister that has already forced him to miss one scheduled start. There was hope he would pitch against the Twins, but there has been no confirmation on this one way or another.