Ohtani pitching plan taking shape for Angels
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Before the Angels’ scheduled game against the A’s was cancelled due to rain on Wednesday, manager Joe Maddon said the club is in the process of formulating a plan for how to utilize two-way star Shohei Ohtani once he’s ready to pitch in mid-May, which could include a decision to start him as a pitcher on Wednesdays instead of Sundays this season.
Ohtani, who saw his return to the mound delayed by left knee surgery last September and is also coming back from Tommy John surgery, will serve only as designated hitter early in the season. But a new rule will allow him to make rehab starts as a pitcher in the Minors while also remaining on the active roster to be eligible as a DH. Once he’s ready to join the rotation, Ohtani will pitch once a week just like he did as a rookie -- but it could come on a different day than when he exclusively pitched on Sundays during his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2018.
“That’s a nice day,” Maddon said with a smile when asked about Wednesday starts. “I think if you look at it, there's a lot of common sense.”
It makes sense because the Angels have a plethora of Thursday off-days once Ohtani is scheduled to return, which would give him a built-in day off after throwing and he could then be ready to be the DH on Friday. It’s speculation, but with this plan, Ohtani could return on May 13, with an off-day scheduled the next day. There are also Thursday off-days scheduled for May 28, June 11 and June 25 in the first half of the season, while their only Monday off-day during that stretch is June 8.
Maddon wouldn’t quite confirm that’s the plan, however, especially considering Ohtani still has to complete his throwing program before he’s cleared to return.
“Just stay healthy, man,” Maddon said. “If he stays healthy, he's going to be really special to watch.”
The Angels’ scheduled game against the A’s at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Wednesday was cancelled due to rain and will not be made up this spring. Left-hander Jose Suarez was scheduled to start, but now the Angels will have to scramble to get him his innings, especially with a scheduled off-day on Thursday. Suarez, who was slated to throw five innings, is now likely to pitch in a simulated game, an intrasquad game or a "B" game.
“It backs up the pitching,” Maddon said. “There'll be a logjam and with the pitching, we’re looking for ‘B’ games and alternative methods to get guys to pitch. So we're looking at a myriad of different potential things right now.”
Game tickets purchased at Tempe Diablo Stadium can be exchanged at the box office for tickets to another Cactus League home game, while tickets purchased online or by phone can call 714-4ANGELS for exchange or refund to the credit card used for purchase. More details can be found at Angels.com/rain.
• Outfield prospect Brandon Marsh, who had been out since spraining his left elbow while attempting to make a diving catch on Feb. 23, was scheduled to return to the lineup on Wednesday, but saw it pushed back because of the cancelled game.
• Right-hander Justin Anderson, who has been sidelined by a left oblique strain this spring, played catch on Wednesday. Anderson will continue to make progressions to bullpen sessions and live bullpen sessions but will open the season on the injured list.
• Left-hander Dillon Peters is scheduled to throw a bullpen session this weekend after seeing his scheduled start on Wednesday get scratched due to a left sprained ankle suffered on Friday. Peters is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season but he’s competing for a spot on the roster as a starter or a reliever.
After an off-day on Thursday, the Angels host the Giants in their lone night game of the spring on Friday at 6:10 p.m. PT at Tempe Diablo Stadium. With a rainout on Wednesday, the Angels are expected to have their full regular lineup on Friday, including Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon. Julio Teheran gets the nod for the Angels, while right-hander Shaun Anderson starts for San Francisco.