ROYALS (15-30) AT ANGELS (21-23)
10:07 p.m. ET; FSW, FS1, FSKC, MLB.TV
Los Angeles Angels manager Brad Ausmus is happy to have the option of putting Shohei Ohtani in the lineup Saturday night against the Kansas City Royals, though it would only be as the designated hitter.
A two-way player, Ohtani will not pitch this season, needing at least a full year to recover from Tommy John surgery performed last Oct. 1.
Ausmus, though, does have another two-way player on the roster now, Jared Walsh, called up earlier this week from Triple-A Salt Lake.
Walsh made his major league debut Wednesday at Minnesota and went 3-for-5 with three singles while playing first base. He earned the promotion to the big leagues after hitting .302/.398/.604 with 10 homers and 26 RBIs in 37 games at Salt Lake.
He also was 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA and one save in five games on the mound for the Bees.
Walsh didn’t see action Friday in the Angels’ 5-2 victory over the Royals in the series opener. Kansas City lost for the fifth time in six games. Los Angeles earned just its second win in five games.
If Walsh were to get a start Saturday, it would be at first base to give regular first baseman Albert Pujols a day off. Walsh has earned that opportunity because of a power surge that began last year and continued early this year in the minors.
After hitting 11 homers in 2017, Walsh belted 29 at three levels in the minors last year, crediting hitting coaches Jeremy Reed and Shawn Wooten for his improvement.
“I think it was just getting my body in a more consistent position and having a better understanding of what I was trying to do at the plate,” Walsh said. “I’m very grateful that they allowed me to do that, and they helped me and they’re continuing to help me. They’ve been huge, even throughout this season when I was in Triple-A. It’s something I want to keep going as much as possible.”
Walsh, though, isn’t likely to pitch, Ausmus saying it would have to be a blowout game in which he would use him to save a bullpen arm.
Rookie Griffin Canning, who also began the season at Salt Lake, will start on the mound Saturday for the Angels, coming off his first major league loss. The 23-year-old right-hander gave up four runs in 4 2/3 innings last Sunday at Baltimore, a game the Orioles won 5-1.
Overall, Canning is 1-1 with a 5.65 ERA, piling up 19 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. He has yet to face the Royals.
Jakob Junis, who will start for Kansas City, also is coming off a loss. The right-hander gave up five runs (four earned) in 4 1/3 innings in a 6-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies last Sunday.
Junis (3-4, 5.77 ERA) has made nine starts this season but has only two quality starts. In two career starts against the Angels, he is 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA.
Like Walsh with the Angels, the Royals called up a young player earlier this week who already has made a splash. Second baseman Nicky Lopez went 1-for-5 Friday against the Angels and now has hit safely in all four games in which he’s played, going 6-for-16 (.375) with three doubles and three walks.
And he’s doing so hitting from the No. 2 spot in the order.
“It really lengthens the lineup,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We have really struggled with the bottom third of the lineup, but this drops everything down. It gives us more opportunity to score runs.”
–Field Level Media