Angels’ Ohtani wants to keep pitching despite arm troubles
SEATTLE (AP) — Shohei Ohtani still wants to be a two-way player for the Los Angeles Angels despite having another season cut short on the mound due to arm troubles.
Ohtani won’t pitch again this year after being shut down with a strained right forearm after an abbreviated outing Sunday. It was the second start of the season for the Japanese star since having Tommy John surgery in 2018.
Ohtani said Wednesday if the Angels asked him to end his dream of being a two-way player, he would listen. But his preference is to continue on the path of pitching and being an everyday hitter. Manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday that he also wanted Ohtani to continue playing both ways.
“Ideally if it comes down to them telling me to just focus on hitting or focus on one thing pitching, I will listen,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “But ideally, I would like to leave the window open for me to do both.”
The Angels shut down Ohtani for the truncated season after he strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his pitching arm. His recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.
“If the possibility is there, I still want to try it,” Ohtani said of still pitching. “The Angels signed me thinking I’m going to be a two-way player. I just need to get healthy, back on the mound and try to accomplish it.”
Ohtani issued five walks Sunday during a 42-pitch second inning against the Houston Astros, with his velocity dropping later in the frame.
The arm injury is another obstacle in Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but he served as the Angels’ regular designated hitter last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Ohtani has pitched in only three games since June 2018. Ohtani said he viewed the shortened season as mostly another rehab opportunity because his innings and starts were going to be limited. He believes with a full offseason throwing program he can be ready to return to the mound next year.
“I need to focus on this season right now. The only way for me to contribute is hitting so I need to focus on it,” Ohtani said. “Once we hit the offseason and go into a normal offseason, normal throwing program I’ll try and ramp it up.”
Ohtani took batting practice before Wednesday’s game, but Maddon held him out of the lineup because of the matchup with Seattle starter Marco Gonzales. Ohtani is expected to be the designated hitter for Thursday’s series finale with right-hander Taijuan Walker on the mound for Seattle.
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