Dodgers’ home-field advantage: Angels’ Shohai Ohtani takes a break

National Sports

Shohei Ohtani made a brief appearance Friday in the opener of a three-game road series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and it figures to be more of the same for the remainder of the weekend for the Angels’ two-way star.

Ohtani leads the major leagues with 37 home runs, but that power will not be utilized all that much by the American League club in a weekend series at a National League ballpark, where the designated hitter is not being used.

Ohtani does have six games of outfield experience this season, but just 7 1/3 innings total as he sometimes finishes games he pitches on defense to keep his bat in the lineup. And since he is not scheduled to pitch in the series, his ability to make an impact will be reduced to pinch-hit duty.

Ohtani got a chance to pinch hit in the 10th inning Friday and was intentionally walked and later thrown out at home plate in a game the Angels won 4-3. Angels manager Joe Maddon was looking on the bright side of Ohtani’s limited duty.

“I’m certain that he would not mind going out there (on defense),” Maddon said. “It’s probably more our comfort zone over his right now.

“Beyond that, just watching him the last couple days, to me it looks as though he does need a little break right now. The guy hasn’t had really any kind of a break, including the All-Star break. It’s coming at a fortuitous time for him and us.”

The Angels are set to send right-hander Jaime Barria (2-0, 4.12 ERA) to the mound Saturday. It will be just his fifth appearance and third start of the season as he comes off a victory at Oakland last Saturday when he pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings.

Barria does have one career start against the Dodgers. It came at Dodger Stadium in 2019 when he picked up the victory after allowing one earned run over five innings.

The Dodgers will counter with left-hander Julio Urias (13-3, 3.40), who is tied for the major league lead in victories. Urias is coming off an easy five innings at Arizona on Sunday when he struck out seven and was asked to throw just 83 pitches before the bullpen took over in a 13-0 victory.

Urias is 0-1 in two career appearances (one start) against the Angels with an 8.10 ERA in 6 2/3 innings, getting rocked for five runs on eight hits in five innings last season.

Trea Turner is expected to make his first start for the Dodgers on Saturday after he made his debut for the club Friday with a foul out. Turner was acquired along with right-hander Max Scherzer in a July 30 trade with the Washington Nationals but was on the COVID-19 list and activated only Friday.

Turner is a shortstop, but with Corey Seager at that position, he is expected to play at second base for the Dodgers. With so many lineup options amid a versatile roster, Cody Bellinger is expected to turn into a platoon player, seeing time only against right-handed pitching.

“Every single night there’s going to be a great player that’s not getting the start,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “That’s just kind of where we’re at. I’ll divvy up playing time with workload. But right now, where we’re at on the schedule, we have to win baseball games.”

–Field Level Media

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