Shohei Ohtani fine with Angel´s plan to delay mound return until mid-may

A day after the Angels informed that two-way star Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch in the Majors until mid-May, Ohtani said Wednesday he’s feeling healthy after multiple surgeries and is on board with the plan.

Ohtani, who saw his rehab from Tommy John surgery delayed by left knee surgery in September, finished his throwing program in late December.

He’s throwing again without any issues at Spring Training and will begin the season as the club’s regular designated hitter, but the Angels will be cautious with him and delay his return to the mound.

“I was getting prepared to start on Opening Day but if that’s what the team wants me to do, then I’ll be prepared to delay my debut,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “I don’t see any problems.”

Ohtani, though, can still make rehab starts on the mound in the Minor Leagues without having to be placed on the injured list, which helps his availability as DH.

Major League Baseball also officially informed new rules Wednesday, which indicated that Ohtani will have two-way status in 2020 and will not count among the club’s maximum of 13 pitchers on their 26-man roster.

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Considering Ohtani threw 51 2/3 innings during his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2018 and didn’t pitch in the Majors at all last year, his innings total will be limited and the Angels would rather have him available to pitch late in the season rather than early in the year.

Ohtani is still expected to pitch once a week once he’s cleared to pitch in the big leagues.

“I think first of all, patience is the key word,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “The part about it to me that’s intriguing as we move this forward as he gets well, and as we get later in the year when you get to the August-September playoff situation, that at that point to be able to have him pitch and hit at the same time.”

Ohtani never served as DH in games he pitched with the Angels in 2018 but said it’s something he did regularly while playing in his native Japan.

The Angels would lose the DH in that scenario, as they’d have to replace Ohtani in the order once he left the game as a pitcher.

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