For the first time since September 2, 2018, Shohei Ohtani will take the mound in a regular season MLB game.
“He’s stretched out,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said when asked what the team is expecting from Ohtani today. “If we could get five innings, wonderful. If we could get five plus that would be great. No real restrictions on him, he’s ready to rock and roll. It’s always about bullpen. I know we have extra guys. I like to get starters deep if you can, conserving bullpen is always important. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Ohtani made 10 starts during his rookie campaign in 2018. He threw at least five innings in seven of them, so expect Ohtani to reach that marker and hopefully eat as many innings as possible.
“I’ve seen how much work he’s put in,” Justin Upton said when asked what he’s seen from his teammate leading up to today’s start. “He works about as hard as anybody I’ve ever seen. To see him get back out there is gratifying. I’m excited to see him back on the mound. I’m happy for him to be back out there.”
Maddon said that Ohtani always seems to be in order and has things in control, so he think he’ll be fine in preparation for today.
Years ago, Maddon was trying to recruit Ohtani to sign with the Cubs. Trying to act like a scout, Maddon recalls what he saw from him years back.
“Easy gas is what I saw,” he said. “This incredible ability to spin the baseball and manipulate pitches. He’s athletically gifted. You could see back then what a wonderful young man he is and you can tell how much he loves the game. I’m eager to watch this for years to come. He’s going to keep getting better as he gets more comfortable. Sky is the limit. If he stays healthy, it’s going to be fun to watch.”
Maddon is right. The sky is the limit for Ohtani. Hopefully he’s able to stay healthy over this 60-game stretch.
Update on Anthony Rendon
Maddon didn’t give an exact date as to when he expects Rendon back, but it definitely sounds like it could be soon. One way we could see him return earlier is the fact he can start as the DH before needing to move to third base. Rendon is expected to work out today with the athletic trainers.
“DH is open,” Maddon said. “We’ll find out today. Listen to the athlete and the athletic trainer and make your decision. It’s possible he can DH first, but I don’t know the conclusion yet.”