Tuesday night is the highly anticipated return of Shohei Ohtani to the mound after more than two weeks without pitching due to a blister. The Los Angeles Angels have been very cautious with him, and they finally believe he’s ready to get back to it, even if things will look slightly different from his first start.
On April 4 against the Chicago White Sox, Ohtani was the starting pitcher. In addition, he hit in the two-hole of the lineup. This led to an incredible moment when he hit a first pitch home run shortly after throwing pitches over 100 mph. It was an unprecedented performance for the American League, and it was assumed it would become a regular thing for Ohtani.
“He’ll be at that 75-pitch mark but you have to watch and see with that blister,” Maddon said. “You just have to pay attention. Could be more, could be less. He’s feeling pretty good. With the uncertainty, I’m not going to hit him tomorrow, just in case something goes awry early and then we’d have to scramble the rest of the night with a short bench.”
Maddon also said that it will be up to Ohtani and how he feels to see if he is back in the lineup as a designated hitter on Wednesday.
“We’ve talked about that and I’m waiting to hear what he thinks about it,” Maddon said. “It might be that he’ll want to wait until after he pitches to say something. And if that’s the case, that’s fine, too.”
While it would have been fun for Ohtani to hit every time he pitches, it’s likely the smartest route to have him sit this one out. With around a 75-pitch limit, there’s a chance that he could have to leave the game earlier than expected.
Due to injuries, the Angels have a very short bench, meaning they would have to figure out more than half of the game constantly subbing players in and out, something a manager like Maddon would rather not do this early in the season.
Look for Albert Pujols to be the team’s designated hitter on Tuesday. This would set off a chain reaction of having Jared Walsh move back to first base, Luis Rengifo potentially going to the outfield, and Jose Rojas getting the start at third base.
Maddon credits team for tough at-bats in 6-4 loss
The Angels dropped the first of three games against the Texas Rangers by the score of 6-4. Maddon was proud of his group for fighting until the very end, saying that some tough at-bats just didn’t go their way when it mattered most.