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Joe Maddon not worried after Shohei Ohtani’s rough debut

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“Just because he had a bad moment or two, you just don’t throw in the towel. Ever. I mean this guy is as good as y’all think he is.”

Los Angeles Angels v Oakland Athletics Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Coming into the game yesterday, Angels manager Joe Maddon said he hoped to get at least five innings out of Shohei Ohtani. He didn’t even get a single out.

After going nearly 700 days without making a major-league start, Ohtani’s 2020 debut went as wrong as it possibly could go, as he allowed five runs and failed to record a single out versus the Athletics.

“It just wasn’t his day,” Maddon said following the game. “Fastball wasn’t coming out, there was no deception in his pitches. The walks were a big part of that. It was a combination, his stuff wasn’t the same and his command was down.”

Having underwent Tommy John surgery, we’re surely not expecting Ohtani to reach 100 mph like we had seen in the past. However, he didn’t have a single fastball reach 95 mph.

“Not too worried about the velocity,” Ohtani said following the game. “I felt like I couldn’t let it eat, throw it with all my strength. That’s one of the things I regret.”

Ohtani threw 30 pitches, with only half of them being strikes. Though he made 30 pitches, he didn’t throw a single splitter, which is highly regarded as his best pitch in his arsenal.

“My day ended without me having a chance to test it out,” he said.

Once Maddon saw things were quickly unwinding, he had to make a decision as to when he’d pull his starter. As runners were getting on base, Maddon had hoped to get Ohtani to at least 40 pitches while letting him record a few outs, unfortunately it just didn’t look like that was going to happen.

“It wasn’t going to get better.” Maddon said.

For Ohtani, he felt fine out there and that he did all the preparation he could do leading up to the start. However, he knows there are still some things he can work on and improve upon before making his next start.

“I got to get that feel for the game back,” he said. “Today I felt I was throwing the ball as opposed to pitching.”

Health wise, Ohtani feels fine. Maddon and the team aren’t concerned, and know that coming off of Tommy John surgery is difficult for most pitchers. “It’s one of those things (where) you got to be patient, man,” Maddon said. “Just because he had a bad moment or two, you just don’t throw in the towel. Ever. I mean this guy is as good as y’all think he is. He’s just not comfortable getting back there yet. When you come off a severe injury, you got to fight through some of those mental roadblocks in order to get back to where you had been.”