The news that Shohei Ohtani has been cleared to resume a throwing program is sweet music to Angels’ fans’ ears.
Regardless if the Japanese sensation actually throws a pitch in anger this season is really inconsequential in July.
The fact is that the Angels rallied around Ohtani in April after his abysmal spring training to the tune of a 13-3 head start that has largely been forgotten.
It seems forever ago since the Angels’ - - and baseball’s darling - - went on the disabled list after a sore arm led to an MRI, which led to a DL stint and a general deflation of Halo sprit.
In fact it's only been six weeks.
"There’s no question we’ve missed him (Ohtani)," said none other than Mike Trout, the best baseball player on earth, target of Manfred's misguided criticism over the All-Star break, and one of Ohtani’s sandlot buddies.
The Angels got Ohtani’s bat back last month, and it’s just the guess from this corner of the Halosphere that his presence again as a potential two-way player could be the Gatorade bath this struggling team needs to keep fighting.
Ohtani, after all, came to the Angels from the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
There’s plenty of fight left in the Angels, as evidenced by their split with the crosstown Dodgers in the annual Freeway Series.
The standings may suggest the Angels are already underneath the fabled Indian burial ground at Katella and Orangewood.
And sabermetricians will say they are.
But math alone can't add this up.
But, sometimes. One transcendent figure can change things in the snap of fingers.
Think of Francisco Rodriguez is 2002.
In this age of hyper analytics and hyper Rob Manfred antics, it is critical to remember that one "intangible" that cannot be measured by any metric is MORALE.
Ohtani throwing long toss from 60 feet at the Big A on Thursday, after enjoying the thrill rides like a tourist at Universal Studios, yesterday is a start.
Long toss happened this afternoon.
Ohtani will likely be the designated hitter in Mike Scioscia's lineup on Friday as the Angels take on the front-running Houston Astros and hurlers Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers at the Big A.
These are must-win games.
And sometimes, all players need is something meaningful to play for.
It’s just this old school baseball writers’ guess that immeasurable morale boost could come from today’s news.
The Angels will know that, should they be relevant in September, could have Ohtani The Arm as well as Ohtani The Bat on their side in those crunch games.
This should make the team crunch harder. There’s one thing athletes hate a lot, which is to be seen as anyone working harder than them.
Nobody is going to out work Shohei Ohtani. The word is out.
Two-way Shohei can be a thing again.
The Angels' mission - - and that of GM Billy Eppler - - will be to remain close enough to make it matter.