Halos still optimistic Ohtani will make next start

Two-way phenom dealing with blister, could DH on Thursday

April 19th, 2018

ANAHEIM -- One day after exited his start against the Red Sox with a blister on his right hand, the Angels remained optimistic that the 23-year-old two-way phenom will be able to make his next start on the mound.
"We'll evaluate it," manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday. "He's not very concerned about it. Our medical staff is going to pay a lot of attention to it, to make sure that he's able to throw his bullpen and see where he comes out of things. We'll just take this one step at a time. We won't have to make a decision for a while."
The Angels' preference early this season has been to have Ohtani pitch on six days' rest, meaning his next scheduled outing would likely be Tuesday in Houston. Ohtani normally throws a light bullpen session four days before his starts and a more intense one two days later, so he could have a chance to assess the blister's progress Friday, if he remains on his usual pitching routine.

Ohtani didn't pitch for nearly two months because of a blister issue in Japan in 2016, but he doesn't feel this one is as severe. He added that he's been able to pitch through other blisters without having to miss a turn in the rotation.
"Usually, in Japan, I pitched without it fully healing, without skipping days or anything," Ohtani said Tuesday through an interpreter. "I think it will be something similar this time."
The blister, which is located on the inside edge of Ohtani's right middle finger, affected his ability to command his pitches against the Red Sox and especially defanged his splitter, which had been a key pitch for him in his first two brilliant outings. Scioscia said that he doesn't believe Ohtani's high splitter usage led to the development of the blister, however.
"He used his split a lot in his first two outings and had no issue with it," Scioscia said. "It's just something that came up last night. He'll be able to throw all his pitches."
The blister isn't expected to affect Ohtani's hitting. Scioscia said Ohtani would be available to serve as the designated hitter on Thursday, but he wouldn't commit to having him in the lineup against Red Sox left-hander . So far this season, the left-handed hitting Ohtani has started only once at DH against a lefty.