Can injury-riddled Angels stay in playoff hunt without Mike Trout?


“It’s not a pretty sight right now.”

Angels manager Phil Nevin was talking about the nasty contusion on Anthony Rendon’s leg, which forced the third baseman to leave the clubhouse on crutches Tuesday night. But the quote might as well have described the entire state of the ailing Angels on a macro level.

In Rendon, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, the three most expensive players on the sixth-most expensive roster in baseball are all dealing with some sort of physical ailment, to varying degrees of severity. The Angels had already announced Trout would be placed on the injured list with a fractured hamate bone in his left wrist — the result of a swing the previous day that left him in agony — when the hits kept coming on the Fourth of July. 

Rendon was removed from Tuesday’s game with a left shin contusion after fouling a ball off his leg. The Angels turned to Ohtani hoping he could help them recover from the unfortunate Trout news, but he allowed five runs in five innings before walking off the mound with a trainer in an 8-5 loss. A blister had formed on Ohtani’s right middle finger, which he assumes will render him unable to pitch in the All-Star Game. Ohtani said the blister was related to a cracked nail that had impacted him recently.


“It’s basically the same thing as last time,” Ohtani told reporters through his translator. “It wasn’t fully healed, and it got kind of worse as the game went on.” 

Nevin added: “We put an acrylic nail on there because of where it’s cracked, and that might have just irritated the skin on the side of the finger.”

Ohtani was unsure as of Tuesday how the injury would impact his ability to hit, considering the difficulties he experienced putting pressure on his finger. Luckily for the Angels, he returned to the lineup Wednesday night. In another sliver of good news, they hope to avoid an IL stint for Rendon. 

Still, the other injury update this week in Anaheim was considerably more grim. 

An Angels offense already missing infielders Zach Neto, Brandon Drury and Gio Urshela as well as catchers Logan O’Hoppe and Max Stassi will be without Trout for at least a month after the three-time MVP underwent surgery.

“Some guys came back in four weeks, some guys take a lot longer,” Trout told reporters after learning of the hamate bone fracture. “Just see how my body heals.” 

Trout, who’d just turned a corner offensively with a slash line of .340/.441/.680 in 14 games leading up to the injury, is one of nine players on the Angels roster with an OPS over .650 in at least 150 plate appearances this year. That group has helped the Angels’ offense produce the fourth-highest OPS in baseball this season. But six of those nine players are currently on the injured list, leaving them in a questionable spot a month before the trade deadline. 

Unable to sit back in Ohtani’s contract year, they’ve tried to patch up the vacancies over the last couple weeks by acquiring Mike Moustakas from the Rockies and Eduardo Escobar from the Mets. They also recalled outfielder Jo Adell, the former top prospect who has launched 23 homers in Triple-A this year. 

It’s a considerably different lineup than the one they employed on June 18, when the Angels sat in second place after securing their 11th win in 14 games. They have dropped 11 of their past 15 games since, falling to seven games back of the first-place Rangers, third place in the division and four games back of a wild-card spot.

For the Angels to stay in playoff contention, they’ll need more out of veterans Taylor Ward (.696 OPS) and Luis Rengifo (.637) and offseason addition Hunter Renfroe (.756). And, unlike anything they could’ve envisioned when the season began, they’ll also need contributions from newcomers such as Escobar and Moustakas and call-ups Mickey Moniak and Adell to help Ohtani keep the offense afloat as the deadline fast approaches. 

Is Shohei Ohtani in the midst of the greatest season of all time?

Is Shohei Ohtani in the midst of the greatest season of all time?

Their manager has attempted to keep an optimistic tone, but an Angels team that made prudent moves this offseason to give itself a better chance of reaching the postseason and retaining Ohtani suddenly finds itself in a much more uncertain, unsettling spot from just a few short weeks ago. 

“Everything we want,” Nevin said, “is still right in front of us.”

Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and NL West for FOX Sports. He previously was the Dodgers’ editor of digital and print publications. Follow him on Twitter at @RowanKavner. 

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