Ohtani returns to mound for Tuesday start

April 18th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- Angels two-way star 's highly anticipated next start will come Tuesday against the Rangers, the club announced on Sunday. The decision was made a day after Ohtani threw a 30-pitch bullpen session off the main mound at Angel Stadium on Saturday. 

Ohtani has made just one start this season, coming on April 4 against the White Sox, as he’s been dealing with a blister on his right middle finger. But Ohtani threw a light bullpen session of 10 pitches on Monday before throwing 23 pitches in a bullpen on Wednesday. His bullpen on Saturday came without the use of a bandage on his finger, which is a good sign for Ohtani, who was checked out by head athletic trainer Adam Nevela after he threw and came away without any issues.

“I heard it was really good,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said on Saturday. “He came inside to get his finger checked and Adam thought it looked really good. So we’ll make our plans tomorrow. If he walks in and still feels groovy, we’ll make our plans at that point.”

Ohtani, 26, has been able to serve as designated hitter without any issues this season and is off to a great start offensively. He entered Saturday's game batting .333/.370/.706 with four homers, three doubles, two triples and 12 RBIs in 13 games.

The Angels have been able to get by without Ohtani pitching, as they entered the season with a six-man rotation and have made it work without having to call up any spot starters. But once Ohtani is healthy and ready to pitch, he’ll be a normal part of the six-man rotation going forward. He gave up three runs (one earned) on two hits over 4 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts in his lone start this year.

Maddon said they plan to have a long reliever ready behind Ohtani when he starts just in case he experiences any setbacks with his blister. But Maddon added that it’s too early to determine who that’ll be just yet, as he’ll continue to monitor the workload of his relievers on Monday. 

Both of the Angels' games against Minnesota on Saturday and Sunday were postponed because of COVID-19 issues with the Twins. Left-hander José Quintana was scheduled to start on Saturday and Alex Cobb was slated to throw on Sunday, but Quintana will now start on Wednesday. Right-hander Dylan Bundy gets the nod in the series opener on Monday.  

Rendon improving but no target date to return
Third baseman (left groin strain) is eligible to return from the injured list on Wednesday against the Rangers but has yet to progress to baseball activities. It’s still too early to know if he’ll be ready by Wednesday, though Maddon said Rendon has been showing some improvements.

“I’ve watched him go through his work and he’s feeling better and feeling well,” Maddon said. “It’s one of those things where Adam and the medical staff don’t want any reoccurrence. But he’s doing fine. He’s very upbeat and very positive. By the beginning of the week, we should have a much better idea of the finish line by like Monday or Tuesday.”

Angels tidbits

• Right fielder (left calf strain) has progressed to light running and has been able to take batting practice without any issues. He’s also eligible to be reinstated on Wednesday.

• Catcher (left thumb strain) hasn’t been able to start catching again just yet, but he has been throwing to keep his arm active. He’s eligible to return on Friday against the Astros.

• Outfielder is scheduled to meet with Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Monday for a consultation after sustaining a season-ending torn ACL in his left knee on April 9. Fowler has yet to schedule his surgery. He’s expected to have a return to play in six to nine months after the operation.

• Right-handed reliever Félix Peña has just about fully recovered from his right hamstring strain but remains at the club’s alternate site in Tempe, Ariz. Maddon said he’s still not sure when Peña will be activated because he likes his current bullpen and isn’t in a rush to make any changes. Peña, though, remains out of options, so he has to be activated when healthy and can’t be optioned to the alternate site.