ANAHEIM, Calif. — As a baseball fan, Aaron Boone could say he was disappointed that injured Shohei Ohtani was out of the Angels’ lineup on Saturday night and that the two-way phenom’s first chance to face Masahiro Tanaka went by the wayside.
And as the Yankees’ manager?
The memory of the absolute bomb Ohtani hit over the right-centerfield fence off Luis Severino the night before still was fresh in his mind. He didn’t mind not having to face Ohtani. “Not after that swing I saw last night,” Boone said with a laugh.
It was the Yankees who boasted the impressive swings Saturday night, though, taking a 10-0 lead after two innings.
A night earlier, Ohtani crushed his fourth homer, turning on a 1-and-1 fastball that came in high and inside at 97 mph. It was a pitch that Severino later said he didn’t regret.
“I mean, he’s good, what can you say?” Severino said. “[I’m] not throwing inside [to him] anymore. I threw a good pitch. I tip my cap.”
But Ohtani left the game after tweaking his left ankle while running to first base on a groundout to second in the fifth inning Friday night. He is day-to-day, though Angels manager Mike Scioscia said before Saturday night’s game that Ohtani might be able to pinch hit.
Of the righthander’s next scheduled start, Tuesday against the Orioles, Scioscia told reporters: “We don’t know yet.”
“You never like to see anyone, especially players that draw attention to our game in a positive way, you never want to see guys out because of an injury or anything like that,” Boone said.
He paused, again reflecting on Ohtani’s blast.
“With that being said, that swing he threw at us was pretty impressive,” Boone said. “Hopefully it’s not something serious, but no, I don’t look at it as I’m bummed or happy. I’m looking at it like we’re trying to beat the Angels tonight. Hope it’s just a two-day thing.”
While early indications are the injury is not serious, the injury showed the potential perils for a two-way player.
“Obviously, that’s certainly one of the conversations that comes from this,” Boone said. “And that’s always going to be the balance that they’re going to have to strike with him, I’m sure. How much he can play as a position player on a weekly basis to not affect his ability to be dynamic on the mound. That’s something I’m sure they’re constantly going to battle with and struggle with. But it’s a pretty good problem to have when you have that special of a talent.”
Ohtani has been as valuable as imagined, the reason just about every team went after him hard in the offseason. That includes the Yankees, who were thought to be among the favorites to land the pitcher/outfielder but instead were among the first teams eliminated in the sweepstakes. Ohtani, it turned out, had no interest in playing on the East Coast.
Entering Saturday night, Ohtani, who bats lefthanded, had a .341/.383/.682 slash line, four homers and 12 RBIs. On the mound, he’s 2-1 with a 4.43 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 20 1⁄3 innings.
What has impressed Aaron Judge about Ohtani? “That he’s pitching and hitting in the major leagues,” he said. “He’s going out there throwing a hundred [mph] and commanding his pitches, and on the hitting side of it, being not only to hit for a good average but hit for power.”
He added, “He’s got such a short, quick, compact swing. It’s efficient. You feel like he’s swinging at a lot of balls that are in the strike zone. He doesn’t chase too much. It’s pretty fun to watch. It’s only one game I’ve seen him, but I’m excited to see him down the road.”