Shohei Ohtani Not Expected to Pitch for Angels Until May Amid Elbow Injury Rehab

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2020

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 11:  Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs to first after hitting a solo homerun during the fifth inning of a game against the Cleveland Indians at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 11, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Los Angeles Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Tuesday two-way star Shohei Ohtani isn't expected to pitch until mid-May as he completes his recovery from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in October 2018.

Eppler explained Ohtani will remain the club's primary designated hitter and can rehab without being removed from the MLB roster under the league's new rules, per Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic.

The 25-year-old Japanese sensation enjoyed a strong start to his career on the mound before he suffered the major elbow injury. He posted a 3.31 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with 63 strikeouts in 51.2 innings across 10 starts in 2018, his first MLB season after five years with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan.

Ohtani made 106 appearances as the Angels' DH in 2019. He posted a .286/.343/.505 triple-slash line with 18 home runs and 12 stolen bases. His .848 OPS would have tied for 26th in the American League if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

Knee surgery cut short his second season in September, but he expressed excitement about being a two-way contributor again in 2020.

"I'm very excited, obviously and since I got this surgery quick, I need to take each day preciously, try to get back early as possible and get back to full strength next season," he told reporters through an interpreter.

The Angels bolstered their rotation over the winter with the additions of Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy, who will join Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning and whomever wins the fifth-starter job in spring training.

It's a solid group, but it lacks an ace. Ohtani showed the potential to reach that level in 2018, and he can providing offensive depth behind the superstar tandem of Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon.

So, while Trout is the best player in baseball, Ohtani could hold the key to the end of the Angels' five-year playoff drought. If he can get healthy and provide production similar to 2018 on the mound and over the last two years at the plate, he could be a six-win player for L.A. this year.

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