Two-way star Shohei Ohtani’s next start on the mound will come on Wednesday against Cleveland at Angel Stadium, the Angels announced before Sunday’s game against the Red Sox.
Ohtani was originally scheduled to make his next start on Tuesday, but he will be pushed back only one day because of fatigue. Angels manager Joe Maddon indicated earlier in the week that Ohtani could be pushed back a few days, but the right-hander ended up needing just one extra day of rest, as he’s looked fresh in the lineup against the Red Sox this weekend after an off-day on Thursday.
"I thought he looked fatigued for the first time [on Wednesday], but then he had a day off and he's looked fine here," Maddon said. "So moving it forward, I thought it would be wise to move him back just a little bit. Make sure that tanks fill up again."
Ohtani is coming off his best start in several years, as he allowed one run and struck out 10 over seven innings against the Astros on Tuesday. He's made five starts this year, posting a 2.10 ERA with 40 strikeouts, 20 walks and two homers allowed in 25 2/3 innings.
Maddon said they’ll continue to monitor Ohtani’s fatigue throughout the season because they want to get the most out of their two-way star.
"I'm not expecting him to be a 200-inning pitcher this year,” Maddon said. “But if we move this around a little bit and keep him strong and his arm strong, it's probably the best way to get maximum utility out of him."
Another change for Ohtani came on Sunday, when he was moved to third in the batting order behind Mike Trout. Ohtani had been hitting mostly second this year, although he did lead off on Wednesday.
The Angels plan to mix and match at the leadoff spot in the short-term with David Fletcher struggling and dealing with a minor groin injury. Fletcher batted ninth on Saturday and was held out of the lineup on Sunday. Taylor Ward served as leadoff hitter on Saturday, while the left-handed-hitting Jose Rojas led off on Sunday.
"I didn't want to go left, left, right there, so that's part of it," Maddon said. "So now it's Rojas, Trout, Ohtani, [Anthony] Rendon against a righty today. Just want to see the different options we have going forward. But it's pretty much to prevent back-to-back left-handed hitters."
• Left-hander Patrick Sandoval will make his first start of the season on Monday against the Indians at Angel Stadium. Right-hander Alex Cobb remains out with a blister, but Maddon said he could return later in the week. Sandoval is expected to be limited to 60-65 pitches, as he threw 40 pitches in his last appearance out of the bullpen.
• Maddon said he’d consider Trout as the club’s leadoff hitter going forward, but for now he wants to try a combination of Ward and Rojas atop the lineup. Trout hasn't hit leadoff regularly since 2013, as he's made a combined five starts atop the lineup since that season.
• Left fielder Justin Upton was given a scheduled day of rest on Sunday, Maddon said. Phil Gosselin started in left in Upton’s absence.