Angels First Pitch: Ohtani’s final tune-up, Heaney hurting
By Kyle Franzoni
Angels’ Shohei Ohtani throws his final tune-up before his first start since 2018
Speaking of coming a long way, the wait until the 2020 MLB season hasn’t been the only thing that will be highly anticipated this coming weekend. There is also the highly anticipated return of Shohei Ohtani to an MLB mound.
Ohtani last threw in a major league game on September 2, 2018. After undergoing Tommy John surgery and spending the 2019 season limited to being a designated hitter, the two-way star is ready to resume his pitching career in 2020.
Ohtani has appeared in three intrasquad games thus far this spring (err…summer), and the right-hander has shown steady improvement over each start. That continued on Sunday when he threw five simulated innings, allowing one run on five hits and four walks, striking out six of his 22 batters faced.
Contol appears to remain an issue for Ohtani, who walked eight batters during his first spring outing and has issued four free passes in each of his two subsequent starts. However, velocity has been ticking up and he’ll likely be less focused on mixing his pitches versus execution during live games.
The start on Sunday was also significant as it seemed to indicate the Angels’ plan for Ohtani moving forward. With the team adamant on giving him just one pitching appearance per week, Sunday would seem to be the obvious choice for when to work him on the mound. The pitcher himself noted that when speaking with the press on Sunday night.
“It looks like going on Sundays is the best option,” Ohtani said. “We have the most off-days on Monday. I’m not going to hit the following day, so it gives me a chance to rest up.” (via Rhett Bolinger, MLB.com)
That plan would see Ohtani take the ball in the season’s third game, with off days to rest on Saturday and Monday.