Shohei Ohtani (right groin tightness) was in the lineup Tuesday as the Angels’ designated hitter, going 1 for 4 with a strikeout in the Red Sox’ 4-0 win, and he is slated to get the start on the mound at Fenway Park Thursday, according to manager Joe Maddon.
“If he continues to progress he’ll pitch Thursday,” Maddon said before the series opener against the Sox.
Ohtani was originally scheduled to start Tuesday, but he was given a little more time. He was pulled from Sunday’s game against the White Sox but entered Monday’s series finale as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.
Ohtani is 1-1 in two career starts against the Red Sox, allowing five runs over nine innings. Thursday would be his first career start at Fenway.
“With all respect to all the athletes we have in baseball, he is by far the best athlete we have,” manager Alex Cora said. “I’ve been seeing his progression. And the way he’s been able to adjust and be successful on both sides of the ball is impressive. I don’t even know what his preparation is. But what he has to do to be an elite hitter, an elite pitcher, the mental side of it, scouting reports, how long it takes for him to be ready for us on the mound and be ready for us at the plate, it has to be impressive.”
Hirokazu Sawamura struck out Ohtani to end the game. The two faced each other in Japan during Ohtani’s rookie season in 2013. At the time, Sawamura was still a starting pitcher.
“Everything he has accomplished and will accomplish, I’ll always have respect for him,” Sawamura said. “Whatever he does, it’s just amazing.”
Martinez not too happy
Despite his 2-for-4 night that included an eighth-inning homer, J.D. Martinez (left adductor tightness) still feels a bit limited.
“It doesn’t bother me when I hit,” Martinez said. “Just when I’m running out of the box and stuff.”
Martinez said he can manage it, but can’t run hard and said it is a nagging injury he will have to monitor.
“Right now if it’s fine,” said Martinez. “I just have to really tell myself don’t run when I hit the ball.”
Who will catch on?
The Red Sox will play the matchup game when it comes to who gets the start behind the plate between Christian Vázquez and Kevin Plawecki.
Vázquez has had a forgettable start to the season, batting .220 with a homer and a .541 OPS. Plawecki has been worse but with a smaller sample size, hitting .150 in 23 plate appearances. Plawecki got the start Tuesday, in part because Noah Syndergaard was on the mound and the Red Sox prefer Plawecki against high velocity. Plawecki went 1 for 3. Neither catcher fared well against it last year (Vázquez hit .125 against pitches 95 miles per hour or faster compared with Plawecki’s .182).
“His swing is short, and he’s shorter to the ball,” Cora said of Plawecki. “And he’s a good fastball hitter. You know, [Syndergaard], he’s not the same guy he was [with the Mets]. He’s throwing a lot of changeups, some sliders. He’s been spinning the ball. But, you know, we felt Tuesday was a good day for [Plawecki] to go out there.”
Sox pitchers have had more success with Plawecki behind the plate this season (a 2.50 ERA with Plawecki compared with a 4.04 ERA with Vázquez behind the plate).
Josh Taylor’s rehab assignment on hold
Josh Taylor (back) had a setback during his rehab stint, Cora said.
“He feels better today,” Cora noted. “But of course, we have to take him off his rehab assignment. We’re going through tests and all that stuff and will know more during the week.”
Taylor was at Fenway receiving treatment Monday and Tuesday.
The injury has followed Taylor for some months, causing the lefthanded reliever to miss spring training.
Taylor has appeared in three games between Triple A Worcester and Double A Portland.
Tough break for Austin Warren
The Angels put righthanded reliever Austin Warren on the injured list before the game after he suffered a fractured nose when he was hit by a stray ball during Red Sox batting practice. Righthander Elvis Peguero was recalled from Triple A to take his place and pitched the eighth inning, giving up a solo homer to Martinez … After optioning Jo Adell to Triple A, the Angels started infielder Jack Mayfield in left field instead of Brandon Marsh. It was Mayfield’s first time playing the outfield professionally and he went 0 for 3. Maddon said he wanted a righthanded hitter in the lineup with Red Sox starter Michael Wacha having reverse splits … Tuesday marked the beginning of Asian-American and Pacific Islander monthat Fenway Park. Pregame ceremonies recognized Quincy Asian Resources, Inc., a local nonprofit that supports and empowers Asian and immigrant communities. The national anthem was sung by Sheena Melwani, a social media artist of Indian descent from Natick.