Ohtani 'not too worried' by blister flare-up

March 30th, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- It was not two-way star 's night in a 10-2 loss to the Dodgers in the Freeway Series on Monday, as he struggled with his command for 2 1/3 innings and left the game in the third inning with a blister on his right middle finger.

He’s scheduled to make his first start of the regular season on Sunday against the White Sox and is also expected to be in the lineup as designated hitter on Thursday and Friday. The blister is an issue that Ohtani has dealt with in the past, including in his rookie season in 2018, when he twice exited starts early with a blister on his pitching hand.

Ohtani, though, said he’s confident that it won’t be a major issue going forward and that the blister is something that begin to develop in his last outing on March 21.

“I’m not too worried for my next outing,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “I’m actually kind of glad the blister peeled off today before the games actually matter. I was focused on trying to get my pitch count up.”

Angels general manager Perry Minasian also downplayed the ailment and said it shouldn’t affect Ohtani’s playing time in the short-term.

"It's just a blister," Minasian said. "I think we caught it early, so we'll see where it goes."

Ohtani’s off-night came after he excelled in Cactus League play, reaching as high as 102 mph on the mound and leading the club in homers offensively. But it was evident early that Ohtani’s command was off against the Dodgers and his velocity was down a bit as well. Ohtani’s fastball averaged 95.3 mph -- and he touched 99.4 mph once -- but it was clear the blister was affecting his grip.

Ohtani walked three batters in the first inning and allowed a run on a wild pitch before striking out Max Muncy with a splitter. But those command problems continued, as he walked five on the night and served up homers to Chris Taylor, Corey Seager and Will Smith.

After giving up the three-run homer to Smith, Ohtani had a lengthy meeting at the mound with Angels manager Joe Maddon and the training staff. Ohtani noticeably picked at his middle finger and exited the game. He was charged with seven runs on four hits over 2 1/3 innings and of his 63 pitches, only 31 were strikes.

“Physically, I feel fine,” Ohtani said. “I was trying to throw around my blister and on some of the pitches I was yanking or spiking the ball. That was the only issue. But I can’t blame it all on the blister because it’s something I might have to deal with throughout the regular season. But my curveball, where I use my index finger, I feel like those were coming out pretty well.”

Ohtani also was in the lineup as the club’s No. 2 hitter but had only one at-bat, striking out looking against lefty Julio Urías in the first inning. Ohtani is hitting 16-for-29 (.552) in 12 games with a team-leading five homers in 13 games this spring. He added he doesn’t feel the blister while batting.

“It doesn’t affect my swing, at all,” Ohtani said.

He's expected to be in the lineup at DH in Tuesday's spring finale against the Dodgers.