As we all know, Shohei Ohtani will not be pitching in 2019. Folloiwng Tommy John surgery after the 2018 season, his only focus will be on hitting and rehabbing this season.
It had been awhile since there had been an update on Shohei Ohtani and his rehab in preperation to be the everyday designated hitter for the Angels in 2019. However, the widespread belief that Ohtani wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day was confirmed on Thursday.
While that news is not what Halo fans were hoping for, the overall update was encouraging. With the team reporting to Spring Training in a few weeks, Ohtani might be swinging by the time hitters report. The official timeline is about three weeks, but Ohtani is expected to require less time.
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Another interesting part of the update was in regards to the caution the Angels will use as Ohtani rehabs his arm for pitching. The report detailed that in any given week, Ohtani won’t be asked to add more than one new thing to his regimen. For an example, the week he is asked to face live pitching as a hitter, they won’t have him start playing catch.
The new part for Ohtani as of now will be the continuation of his strength conditioning. His progress thus far has been remarkable, per sources, and it is only a matter of time until he begins swinging. The Angels are waiting for him to gain a significant amount of strength to begin that, however.
These reports, in all honesty, confirm the Angels’ plans for Ohtani more than anything. The balance between him contributing as a hitter in 2019 and being ready for 2020 as a pitcher is delicate, and the use of extreme caution (accompanied with the signing of DH/1B Justin Bour) shows the Angels’ focus is on his 2020 return to the mound, and any hitting this season is purely a bonus.
Until Ohtani returns, Bour, along with Albert Pujols, will serve as the team’s designated hitters. However, it goes without saying that both of them are severe downgrades from the reigning American League Rookie of the Year. For better or worse though, the Angels will be bringing Ohtani along as slowly as needed.