The highly buzzed-about two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani will make his pitching debut for the Angels on Sunday in Oakland, manager Mike Scioscia said on Tuesday night. Ohtani will follow Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs and Matthew Shoemaker in the rotation.
Ohtani was in the lineup in the No. 8 spot as the designated hitter on Thursday for the Halos' Opening Day game in Oakland.
In two Spring Training starts, Ohtani allowed nine hits and nine runs in just 2 2/3 innings. At the dish, he went 4-for-32 with three walks and 10 strikeouts.
After a shaky spring, many wondered if the Japanese rookie would break camp with the Angels or start the season in the Minor Leagues. But Ohtani flashed commanding pitches and showed signs of a deeper arsenal in his latest appearance. The right-hander threw 85 pitches in an intrasquad game in Tempe, Ariz., on Saturday, so he will be fully rested against the A's in the Bay Area.
"He's gotten into the mid-80 pitch range and should be able to get over 90," Scioscia said. "If he is throwing to his capabilities, that's plenty of pitches to get deep into the game. We're going to take it one pitch at a time with all our pitchers."
The Angels are looking for more depth to their rotation, so Ohtani can be a huge asset if he finds a way to turn it around in his debut.
"The last two years, we lost our whole starting rotation within the first month of both seasons, and that's tough to overcome," Scioscia said. "I think we have more depth. I think there are unique things as we get into the season and get our six-man rotation together that are going to help us."
The Angels' home opener is Monday against the defending AL Central champions, the Cleveland Indians. With Andrew Heaney dealing with elbow inflammation, JC Ramirez would draw the assignment at Angel Stadium.
"Right now, we're at five starters and will eventually be at six," Scioscia said when asked if Ohtani was considered for the home opener. "As far as things were lining up, there were definitely things we were looking at as far as how guys would start out of the gate.
"The thing about a starting rotation, especially this year with us, is that we're going to be flexible and it's going to be fluid. So we need these guys to just get out there, get their feet on the ground and start churning start after start to get us wins. I think we could have shuffled things in a lot of different ways but this makes the most sense for where we are now. We'll adjust if we have to."