Trout may be in, Ohtani out as Angels host Rays

Field Level Media

The Los Angeles Angels are expecting the return of Mike Trout to their lineup Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The star center fielder has been out of the starting lineup since Sept. 6 because of a nerve condition in his right foot. He pinch hit the next day and drew a walk, and hasn't played since.

But while Trout is returning, the Angels will be without designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, not just for Friday's game, but for the rest of the season.

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Ohtani, who homered in his last game on Wednesday against the Cleveland Indians, is scheduled to have surgery to repair a kneecap issue, known as bipartite patella, in his left knee on Friday.

"This is a congenital issue that affects a small number of the population," Angels general manager Billy Eppler told MLB.com. "It's generally asymptomatic and generally has been asymptomatic in his career, but it's aggravated him a number of times throughout the season. My understanding is that people who suffer from this condition have a patella (kneecap) that did not fuse at birth."

Ohtani hit .286 with 18 homers, 62 RBIs, a .343 on-base percentage and .505 slugging percentage. The recovery time for the surgery is eight to 12 weeks, meaning Ohtani would be ready for spring training next year. He had Tommy John surgery last year, making him unavailable to pitch this season.

The decision to have surgery now actually has to do with his continued work on the mound.

"We're going to get the surgery because it started to cause Shohei some apprehension as he was increasing the intensity of his mound progression," Eppler said. "He's been going through those progressions and he's been at 83, 85, 86 mph, and as he was going up in intensity, it was aggravating him a little bit. So we made the decision to kind of play it safe and not continue the mound sessions and get this condition addressed now."

Left-hander Andrew Heaney, 4-4 with a 4.30 ERA in 15 starts this season, will start for the Angels on Friday. Heaney had one of his better games of the season against the Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla., on June 14, when he allowed just one run and two hits in five innings on his way to a no-decision.

Heaney, who got a victory in his last start after giving up four runs on six hits in six innings against the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 7, is 0-2 with a 2.65 ERA in three career starts against Tampa Bay.

Charlie Morton, 14-6 with a 3.11 ERA in 30 starts, will take the mound for the Rays. His 31st start of the season will be a career high, following his 30 starts last year with Houston.

Morton is 3-1 with a 4.31 ERA in eight career starts against the Angels, the only loss coming this season when he gave up four runs in six innings on June 15. It was his first loss of the season after starting 8-0.

Morton is 43-16 in the past three seasons, two with the Houston Astros before this year with the Rays. He attributes much of his success to his mindset.

"I try not to let good performances and good outcomes affect my mentality with volatility," Morton told the Tampa Bay Times. "I don't want to ride the roller coaster. I've done that in years past. I had a good one, I had a bad one, you're always judging yourself on your last performance, and you're not having a long-term outlook."

Morton and the Rays begin the weekend in position for the second American League wild card, one-half game ahead of the Cleveland Indians.

On the flip side, Tampa Bay is also only one-half game behind the Oakland A's for the first wild-card spot.

--Field Level Media

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