Injury could affect Ohtani facing countryman Tanaka

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(Reuters) – Injured Japanese two-way standout Shohei Ohtani’s playing status will likely be a game-time decision when his Los Angeles Angels meet compatriot Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees in California on Saturday.

Apr 24, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) delivers a pitch during the second inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Ohtani suffered a mild left ankle sprain while base running in a loss to the Yankees on Friday. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after the game he did not know whether the injury would affect Ohtani’s ability to be the team’s designated hitter in the match-up against pitcher Tanaka on Saturday.

“I don’t think you guys saw it, but he was limping off the field,” Scioscia told reporters.

Ohtani, who is drawing comparisons to the legendary Babe Ruth for his hitting and pitching ability, hit his fourth home run of the season on Friday, but rolled his ankle in the fifth inning while trying to tag first base on a broken-bat grounder.

He left the game and the Angels listed him as day-to-day.

Apr 27, 2018; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) breaks his bat and is thrown out at first base in the fourth inning of the game against the New York Yankees at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

With the home run, the 23-year-old did something Ruth never did, becoming only the fourth major league player since baseball’s modern era (1900) to record 25-plus strikeouts while pitching and four or more home runs as a batter in a month, according to Stats By STATS.

He joined Wes Ferrell (1935), Don Drysdale (1959) and Fergie Jenkins (1971).

Ohtani is batting .341 with 12 runs batted in as the Angels’ designated hitter and has a 2-1 record as a pitcher.

He is next scheduled to pitch on Tuesday.

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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