Slumping Shohei Ohtani sits as Andrelton Simmons returns to Angels lineup

After missing three weeks with a sprained ankle, Andrelton Simmons returned to the Angels lineup on Friday and the game of musical chairs began with Shohei Ohtani sitting outside.

With infielders Anthony Rendon, David Fletcher and Tommy La Stella as three of the Angels ‘most prolific hitters, Simmons’ return to short stop could have resulted in some tough line-up decisions for Manager Joe Maddon.

For the first night, Maddon put Simmons back at short stop, moved Fletcher to second place, with La Stella as the designated hitter in place of Ohtani.

Ohtani normally gets his days off against lefthanded pitchers, but he is hitting .171 this season, so he faced righthanded Mike Fiers with the Angels on Friday.

“Obviously he’s not doing his offensive game right at the moment,” said Maddon. “I’m trying to give him more time to work on his craft and not worry about at-bats in a game. It’s going to be very important for us to get him right. The way it is now set up, and the versatility of Simmons back. it allows us to have Tommy DH, and Ohtani will be back tomorrow. ”

Maddon also pointed out that he “won’t keep playing Simmons in the ground when he comes back,” giving Fletcher more chances on a short stop.

La Stella can also play first instead of Albert Pujols. Maddon was also able to put Fletcher in one of the outfield spots in the corner, giving Brian Goodwin or Jo Adell a day off.

STASSI TO THE IL

Max Stassi was hit by a foul ball in the right knee on Thursday evening, suffered a bruise and a twisted quad, which put him on the injured list on Friday.

Stassi said he felt he wouldn’t be gone long, but Maddon said he expected it to take “at least two to three weeks.”

Stassi said trainers told him they had never seen the exact combination of injuries he has. He said the impact was so severe that it overloaded the tendon.

While Stassi is out, the Angels have Anthony Bemboom and Jason Castro, both lefthanded hitters, to split time behind the plate. However, Castro still gets over a stiff neck that is not 100%. It was enough of a problem that Maddon said on Thursday-evening that he didn’t want to squeeze for Bemboom too early in the game because he wasn’t sure how many innings Castro could have caught.

POSITIVE SIGNS?

Jose Suarez gave up five runs in 1 1/3 innings on Thursday-evening, but Maddon and Stassi saw reasons to be optimistic that the 22-year old will get better.

“I know it’s a terrible day for him, but love it, love it,” said Maddon. ‘I really liked the way his arm works. He moves well on the field. He has a good move to first base. These are the kind of things you sometimes have to overlook. You have to believe it to see it instead of see it to believe it. You have to put on your scout hat with some of our guys. “

Stassi, who also busted Suarez last year, said he liked the improved speed, sometimes up to 95 mph, but the command wasn’t there.

“On his first performance, you know he was shaking off a little bit of the rust and coming back out at the top level,” Stassi said. “I think he is doing well. He has really good throws. His speed was up, so I think he’s got some really good stuff and he definitely has a bright future and he’s going to help us a lot.”