Inbox: When will Ohtani be ready to DH?

Beat reporter Rhett Bollinger answers questions from fans

January 23rd, 2019
Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani follows through on an RBI single against the Texas Rangers during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

ANAHEIM -- Spring Training is around the corner for the Angels, as their annual "Moving Day" is on Saturday, with all of the club's equipment, gear and more heading to their complex in Tempe, Ariz.
The event, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Angel Stadium, also coincides with the sale of single-game tickets for the 2019 season starting at 10 a.m. It'll also featured autograph stations with players and a yard sale of memorabilia.
The roster could be complete after signing of closer , but there are still plenty of questions before pitchers and catchers report, which brings us to this week's Inbox:

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said this week that is nearing his appointment with Dr. Neal ElAttrache to get a better feel for when he'll be ready to start the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1. Ohtani isn't expected to be ready for Opening Day, but the hope is that he won't miss much time early in the season.
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Ohtani is already back in Southern California, as he participated in Angels Night at the Anaheim Ducks NHL game at the Honda Center on Wednesday night. So an update on Ohtani should be coming in the next week or so, and the Angels will get more concrete answers on when Ohtani will be ready to return and how much he'll be able to serve as designated hitter in the early going.

As it stands, is the favorite to win the second-base job in Spring Training, which would mean Zack Cozart opens the season at third base. Fletcher, 24, had a solid rookie season, hitting .275/.316/.363 with a homer, 18 doubles and three stolen bases in 80 games. He also rated as a well-above-average defender, according to advanced metrics, and he also made just one error. It fits in with his track record of being a good contact hitter with plus defense in the Minors.
Fletcher will compete with , and prospect Luis Rengifo for a starting job. Ward is a third baseman, which means Cozart would play second, while La Stella is more likely to open the year on the bench, given his success there. La Stella led the Majors in pinch-hits in 2018 with the Cubs.
Rengifo, 21, is certainly intriguing, as he's coming off a breakout year, hitting .299/.399/.452 with seven homers, 30 doubles and 41 stolen bases in 127 games across Class A Advanced Inland Empire, Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Salt Lake. Rengifo, ranked as the club's No. 10 prospect by MLB Pipeline, will get a legitimate chance in Spring Training, and if he outplays Fletcher, he could win the job at second base. Service time isn't a consideration, as Rengifo is considered a solid, but not elite prospect. It'll be more about if Rengifo is ready for the Majors, as his numbers did dip at Triple-A -- 274/.358/.421 in 46 games there.
It's now been two years in a row that Mike Moustakas has been available, and the Angels have let him go. Do we not need a third baseman with big pop and a glove to match?
-- Ciotti M., Ontario, Calif.

Well, Moustakas hasn't signed anywhere yet, so the Angels haven't technically let him go, but it does seem highly unlikely they'll sign him. The Padres, Brewers and Phillies have been linked to Moustakas recently, while the Angels could be done making any major additions this offseason based on Eppler's comments this week that the club had to stretch its budget to sign Allen.
Moustakas could be a fit at third base and he does provide power from the left side that would fit well in the lineup, but the Angels like their infield options with Fletcher, La Stella, Ward and Rengifo. Fletcher was worth 2.0 Wins Above Replacement in 80 games last year, per Baseball Reference, while Moustakas' WAR was 2.5 in 152 games. So the question is how much of an upgrade he'd really be, much like infielder Josh Harrison, who was linked to the Angels earlier this week. Harrison is coming off a down year with the Pirates, so it's hard to see how much value he'd bring other than his versatility.

Second baseman Jahmai Jones, the club's second-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, has established himself as a top prospect in his own right, as he's the club's No. 4 prospect. The 21-year-old hit .239/.337/.380 with 10 homers, 20 doubles and 24 stolen bases between Class A Advanced and Double-A, and he followed it up by hitting .321/.400/.500 in 19 games in the Arizona Fall League.
But Jones is behind Rengifo on the depth chart, as he only reached Double-A last year, and he could open the season there. Jones is considered close to the Majors and he is one of the more athletic players in the organization, but he is more likely a year away from contributing.