Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani has still made an impact with his bat in the past week. However, his pitching availability has come into question after taking a foul ball to the thumb last Wednesday. Ohtani was supposed to pitch on Sunday against the Oakland Athletics. Instead, rookie Reid Detmers made his MLB debut.
Ohtani’s start was pushed to Monday, when the Angels embarked on a four-game road series against the Texas Rangers. Joe Maddon said it was in order to give Ohtani time for the soreness in his thumb to be relieved. There was no structural damage, but the Angels felt the pain was too much to pitch. Now, as Monday arrives, it has become clear that this may be a bigger issue.
Ohtani’s start was pushed back again, meaning he won’t take the mound in Texas on Monday. Maddon also provided little clarity about his next start, saying it could be anywhere from Wednesday to Saturday of this upcoming week, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“He’ll be at the end of Texas, at the best, or the beginning of L.A., at the best,” Maddon said. “But I don’t have a specific day yet. We just want to make sure. It’s sore, but it’s getting better. We just don’t want him going out there if it’s bothering him. No setbacks. We just want him healed and ready to throw before he goes back out there.”
Maddon also said that there may be some advantage to waiting until the Los Angeles Dodgers series this weekend, as the game will take place in a National League park. Ohtani can pitch and hit without having to sacrifice the DH like the team normally does when Ohtani takes the mound.
Ohtani’s durability has been a question mark throughout the first four years of his career. However, things have really turned around for him this season. Obviously, little issues like this are frustrating, but he is still playing nearly every day.
The Angels need to exercise some caution with Ohtani, as it’s just the smart thing to do. Allowing him to hit while he waits for the thumb to heal is a way of ensuring that he continues to provide help to the team even though he had to skip over a start.
Jaime Barria making case to stay
Despite being called up as an emergency starter, Jaime Barris has given the Angels two high quality starts. He’s allowed just two runs in 13.2 innings of work, with both runs coming off of solo homers from the first two batters he faced.
Maddon discussed what he’s seen from Barria, saying that the young starter is pitching with more conviction, and that it’s making him a case to stay in the long-term rotation.