There’s Mike Trout (doesn’t smile).
There’s Anthony Rendon (actually in uniform).
Where is Shhei Ohtani?
The Angels took their team photo Tuesday before their home game against the Baltimore Orioles. A tall man with Ohtani’s number 17 stood in the back row. But it wasn’t him. It was a body double, a stand-in, probably a team member, pretending to be the unicorn, the world’s greatest baseball player.
Oh my. Oh the symbolism. Oohtani.
The Angels two-way superstar is known to hate missing a game. He never wants to sit. Apparently he didn’t want to stand either.
Or he wasn’t able to because of an injury being investigated that was described as tightness in the right oblique angle. Manager Phil Nevin said Ohtani told him through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara that he wanted to play on Tuesday but Nevin decided “today wasn’t a good day for him”.
And it wasn’t a good day for the Angels, who lost 6-5 in 10 innings and slipped 11 games under .500.
As for the photo, Nevin hinted that the Angels could save face by applying photo editing and putting Ohtani’s head on the body double, who was escorted off the field through the bullpen gate after the photo.
Barring a miracle, Ohtani’s face will be last seen on an Angels shirt on October 1 during the final game of the season. He then becomes a free agent and is not expected to re-sign with the team he lost six seasons with.
Ohtani’s ability to function freely is hampered by a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. His agent Nez Balelo said on Monday it was “inevitable” that Ohtani would have elbow surgery and that Ohtani and doctors were evaluating options.
“We’re really trying to educate ourselves in this situation,” said Balelo, adding he expects Ohtani to be available as a designated hitter early next season.
In the short term, Ohtani will be looking to bat as often as possible through September and add to his 95 RBIs, 20 stolen bases and league-leading 44 home runs, .412 on-base percentage and 1.066 on-base plus slugging percentage.
Ohtani missed just four games all season – including the last two – and just five last season. He became the face of the franchise, eclipsing even Trout. If the Oblique doesn’t keep barking, it’s going to be 23 games. No replacement required.