ANAHEIM — Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani will be limited to roughly 75 pitches and won’t hit in the lineup in his return to the mound against the Rangers on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium, manager Joe Maddon said Monday.
Ohtani is set to make his second start of the season after dealing with a blister on his right middle finger in his lone start of the year against the White Sox on April 4. He threw a light bullpen session on April 12 before throwing more aggressive ones on Wednesday and Saturday without a bandage on his finger.
But with Ohtani’s limited pitch count on Tuesday, the Angels decided they won’t use him as a hitter in the same game he’s starting so they can utilize a designated hitter for the entire game. Ohtani batted second when he started on the mound against the White Sox, smacking a home run in his first at-bat, while striking out seven over 4 2/3 innings and allowing one earned run.
“He’ll be at that 75-pitch mark but you have to watch and see with that blister,” Maddon said. “You just have to pay attention. Could be more, could be less. He’s feeling pretty good. With the uncertainty, I’m not going to hit him tomorrow, just in case something goes awry early and then we’d have to scramble the rest of the night with a short bench.”
As for Wednesday’s day game, Maddon said it’s too soon to know whether Ohtani will be in the lineup the day after his start. But he was in the lineup against the Rangers on Monday and it’ll be up to him if he wants to serve as the DH on Wednesday.
“We’ve talked about that and I’m waiting to hear what he thinks about it,” Maddon said. “It might be that he’ll want to wait until after he pitches to say something. And if that’s the case, that’s fine, too.”
Ohtani went 0-for-4 at the plate in Monday’s 6-4 loss to the Rangers and said he’s ready for his return to the mound, but that he won’t know how the blister will react until he’s throwing at full intensity. He also said he’s hopeful he’ll be in the lineup again on Wednesday, but it’s too early to know for sure.
“There are no problems, at all, as of now,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “It could be a different story once we get to game time but as of now, there are no issues. My blister was pretty big and affected my four-seamer when I was going against the seams. I used to get blisters on the inside part of my fingers from the splitters. But this one wasn’t from the splitter.”
Rendon starts light baseball activity
Third baseman Anthony Rendon has been out since April 10 with a left groin strain, but he hit off a tee, threw and did some light fielding work on Monday. Rendon is eligible to return from the injured list on Wednesday, but it appears likely he’ll need more time than that.
“He’s getting closer,” Maddon said. “I’m not hearing anything negative right now. It’s all progressing positively, which is a good thing.”
Maddon, though, said he doesn’t have an official timeline for when Rendon could be back, but the club is hopeful it’ll be soon. With Rendon out, Luis Rengifo started at third base on Friday and again on Monday.
“I don’t think it’s much further but I’ll wait until he gets through his activities,” Maddon said. “He looked good, but he wasn’t really pushing it. We have to get together with the training group, obviously, but I don’t think it’s too far down the line.”
• The Angels held a light workout on Sunday after they saw their games against Minnesota postponed on Saturday and Sunday due to COVID-19 issues with the Twins. Right-hander Alex Cobb and lefty José Quintana both faced hitters to try to stay sharp. Quintana was scheduled to start Saturday but now will take the mound against the Rangers on Wednesday, while Cobb’s slated to start the series opener against the Astros on Thursday in Houston.
• Right fielder Dexter Fowler met with Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Monday to schedule his surgery to repair his torn ACL in his left knee. Fowler will undergo the season-ending operation on April 27. He’s expected to have a recovery time of six to nine months.