Jerry Hairston Jr. played in 1,289 major league games leading up to Sunday. In none of them was he ever penciled into the third spot in the lineup.
Well, of course, Don Mattingly did it today after never hitting him higher than fifth previously this season. And all Hairston did was respond with his first career five-hit day in the Dodgers’ 5-1 victory over the Astros.
Hairston hadn’t had as much as a four-hit game since 2008 before today’s outburst. He ended up with four singles and a double, and he now has a .381 average in 63 at-bats on the season. Today’s game was just his third back from a DL stint caused by a hamstring strain.
Hairston is certainly playing way over his head at the moment, but that goes for a number of Dodgers. Chris Capuano picked up win No. 7 today, tying him for the major league lead. Catcher A.J. Ellis is playing like an All-Star, and his backup, the normally light-hitting Matt Treanor, homered in his second straight game today. Even Elian Herrera, whom no one had heard of three weeks ago, is batting .342. It’s looking like a charmed year for the team in L.A., and Mattingly will skate to NL Manager of the Year honors if this keeps up.
The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.
Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”
Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.
Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.