ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani threw competitive pitches off the mound at Angel Stadium on Tuesday for the first time in two years.
Ohtani struggled with his control in the Los Angeles Angels’ intrasquad game, walking eight batters on about 50 pitches. The two-way star and manager Joe Maddon weren’t overly concerned about the results of another key day in Ohtani’s return from Tommy John surgery.
“I was able to throw all my pitches today, so I’m just going to try to build on that,” Ohtani said through a translator. “Obviously it felt a lot different from my bullpens, especially because I was unfamiliar with pitching to my teammates. That kind of threw me off a little bit.”
Ohtani hadn’t pitched at the Big A since June 9, 2018, when he left a game with what was initially called a blister. Ohtani was shut down as a pitcher for three months, and the AL Rookie of the Year only returned for one outing in September before it was determined he needed elbow surgery.
“I just saw a guy that didn’t have good rhythm in his delivery,” Maddon said. “He just wasn’t as sharp as he can be, obviously.”
Ohtani served solely as a designated hitter for the Angels last season, hitting .286 with 18 homers and 62 RBIs. He intends to resume his two-way career when the majors’ 60-game regular season begins later this month.
Ohtani has gradually built up his arm strength since spring training through workouts at Angel Stadium amid the coronavirus pandemic. He wasn’t scheduled to return to the mound this season until May, and the Angels hope he can make one start per week for the duration of the two-month regular season.
Ohtani struggled with his control during his first spring training with the Angels in 2018, but he largely shook off those woes when he got to the regular season.
“I’ve been told it looked like that a couple of years ago, and there’s nothing to be concerned or alarmed,” said Maddon, who returned to the Angels organization in the offseason. “He’s healthy. He walked away good.”
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