Rafu Staff and Wire Services
Keston Hiura is back in the big leagues, and hopes his stint in the minors has broughtan end to his early season slump.
The Milwaukee Brewers called up Hiura, their former first-round draft pick, on Wednesday, after first baseman Daniel Vogelbach was placed on the 10-day injured list with a hamstring strain.
“Things have been feeling good the past couple of weeks,” Hiura told MLB.com. “I’ve been telling people it feels normal, and normal is good. It’s not something that’s uncomfortable, something that I’m trying to do different. It just feels normal. That’s what I’ve been looking for the past year or so.”
Hiura was sent to Triple-A Nashville on June 7, after his struggles at the the plate included a nearly 40 percent strikeout rate.
He went 15-for-40 with two doubles and two homers in the minors, and was striking out far less, in about a quarter of his at-bats.
In four games since returning to the majors, Huira has two home runs and five RBI.
On the same day of Hiura’s return to the bigs, new St. Louis Cardinal Lars Nootbaar collected his first major league hit, a triple in the game against the Tigers in Detroit.
The El Segundo native was batting .211 with three RBI going into Monday’s home game against Arizona.
Shohei Ohtani was named a finalist Sunday in voting for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game after finishing the initial phase of balloting as the top vote-getter among American League designated hitters.
The Angels’ two-way star – who belted his 25th home run the same day – garnered 1,961,511 votes in the first phase of voting. He will start at DH for the AL in his All-Star Game debut in Denver on July 13 if he tops the final phase.
The top nine vote-getters in the outfield and the top three for every other position have advanced to the final stage of voting which is open through Thursday.
“I’m really happy that so many people have voted for me. If I’m selected, I’ll do my best to live up to their expectations with good play,” said Ohtani, who underlined his All-Star credentials with a masterful performance at the plate on Sunday.
The 26-year-old sparked the Angels to a 6-4 comeback win over the Tampa Bay Rays with a double, a triple, a homer and three RBIs.
Finishing just a single shy of the cycle at Tropicana Field, Ohtani moved into a tie with San Diego Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. for second in the MLB home run race. The pair trails the outright leader, Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr., by one home run.
Having struck out in his first at-bat, Ohtani patiently drew a walk in the fourth before taking second base for his 11th steal of the season. He crossed home plate for the Angels’ first run off a Phil Gosselin single
Ohtani came into the matchup against the Rays leading the majors in extra-base hits. The three he added – including an RBI double in the sixth and an RBI triple in the seventh – took him to 46 for the season.
His ninth-inning solo homer against Tampa Bay reliever Pete Fairbanks flew high over the opposite field after leaving his bat at 107.5 miles per hour.
Ohtani’s “unbelievable” exploits this season have been an inspiration for his Angels teammates, starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval said.
“I don’t know if (the TV cameras) show the dugout after whatever he does. Everyone is fired up, and it keeps everyone locked in. It’s awesome. What he does for this team is indescribable,” Sandoval told MLB. com.