Ohtani looks to stay hot as Angels face White Sox

Shohei Ohtani will try to maintain his torrid pace as of late when the Los Angeles Angels play the Chicago White Sox in the second installment of a three-game series Saturday evening at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Ohtani, a two-way star who slammed his 19th homer in Friday’s 5-3 win, has hit three long balls since receiving word that he needs Tommy John surgery and is unlikely to pitch in 2019. He is riding a five-game hit streak

The Japanese star plans to continue hitting while deciding his next move, and his elbow injury does not impact his swing.

“Nothing is set right now,” Ohtani told reporters on Friday through his interpreter. “I have a few options out there. I am trying to look into every single option. I will make a decision sometime toward the end of the season.

“I feel like I’m progressing as a hitter right now, so I’m trying to gain as many experiences as I can while the games count.”

Los Angeles (69-72) still has a chance to finish above .500 for the first time in three seasons. The Angels have won six of their last 10 games and are 5-3 on their current road trip, which has included stops in Houston, Texas and Chicago.

When the Angels hit two home runs or more in a game, as they did in the series opener, they boast an impressive record of 42-13.

Chicago (56-85) is playing .500 baseball since the All-Star break and has high hopes for continued improvement next year. However, the team learned Friday that it likely will be without prized pitcher Michael Kopech for the rest of this season and all of next season because of a torn elbow ligament that requires Tommy John surgery.

White Sox right-hander James Shields (6-15, 4.39 ERA) will start on Saturday and try to refocus his teammates after the tough news. Shields is coming off a strong outing in which he pitched six scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox to earn a victory on Sunday.

In 16 career starts against the Angels, Shields is 7-5 with a 3.48 ERA. He has 22 walks and 100 strikeouts in 108 2/3 innings. In his only start against the Angels this season, Shields gave up six runs, including three homers, in four innings and took a loss.

Los Angeles will counter with right-hander Matt Shoemaker (1-0, 2.53 ERA), who will make his third start of the season. Shoemaker missed most of the season with a right forearm strain but tossed five scoreless innings his last time out Monday against the Texas Rangers.

In five career starts against the White Sox, Shoemaker is 2-2 with a 4.18 ERA. He has been prone to big mistakes, allowing seven home runs in 32 1/3 innings.

White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia enters the game hot after homering and reaching base four times in the series opener. However, Garcia is battling a balky knee and might not play in back-to-back contests.

“We’re going to spell him, do everything we have to do to keep him off his legs as much as possible,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “But he wants to play. We’re going to have to be very mindful of how he’s doing and give him an opportunity to kind of recover a little bit. I’ll talk to him tonight, talk to him (before Saturday’s game) to see how he’s feeling.”