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Jose Rojas to get bulk of time at third for Angels with Anthony Rendon out

Anthony Rendon’s injury is opening an opportunity for Jose Rojas.

Rendon was placed on the injured list on Monday with a strained left groin, an injury he suffered on a throw late in Saturday night’s game against Toronto.

“We’re thinking hopefully about 10 days, but I never want to put a time limit on these things,” Manager Joe Maddon said before Monday’s game in Kansas City. “Let’s let it play out and see where it goes.”

The Angels recalled utility infielder Jack Mayfield to take Rendon’s spot on the roster, but Maddon said he envisions Rojas getting the bulk of the starts at third. Mayfield could go in for defense late in games.

Maddon said infield coach Brian Butterfield was happy with Rojas’ work on defense in spring training.

“I also believe his bat is going to pick up now that he’s getting more consistent at-bats,” Maddon said.

It was an inspirational story when Rojas made the team out of spring training. A 28-year-old former 36th-round pick who was born in Anaheim, Rojas had become a fan favorite by hitting all through the minors, but he never got the chance to play in the big leagues until now.

Still, there wasn’t much playing time available for Rojas behind the Angels’ regular infielders, and he started his big league career going hitless in eight at-bats spread over the first nine games.

OHTANI UPDATE

Shohei Ohtani took a small step toward returning to the mound, throwing a light, 10-pitch bullpen session without a bandage covering the spot where he had developed a troublesome blister.

Maddon said it was an encouraging sign, but Ohtani will need to throw a more intense bullpen session before they can put him back into the rotation.

When asked if he could possibly be ready to pitch one of the three games at home against the Minnesota Twins on Friday-Sunday, Maddon said: “I don’t think so. I can’t say that with 100% certainty, but I would think that he would not be able to do so.”

ROWEN UP

The Angels also recalled side-arming right-hander Ben Rowen and optioned Jaime Barria. Rowen, 32, has pitched in 12 big league games, but none since 2016. Maddon compared him to former reliever Chad Bradford, whose hand nearly scraped the mound during his submarine delivery.

“It’s one of those pitches that never gets there,” Maddon said. “Righties or lefties don’t like it, but he’s a tough guy. And I anticipate good out of him. I thought he threw really well in camp. And he’s ready to rock and roll.”

As with most sidearm pitchers, Rowen is more effective against same-side hitters, but Maddon said he could face lefties too, relying on his changeup and breaking ball.

Rowen filled the 40-man roster spot vacated when Ty Buttrey was placed on the restricted list.

LAGARES SCRATCHED

Juan Lagares was scratched from the Angels’ lineup just before game time with left calf tightness.

The Angels moved Jared Walsh from first base to right field and put Albert Pujols in the lineup at first.

The Angels are already short-handed in the outfield since Dexter Fowler suffered a season-ending knee injury.

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