Posted on April 18, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
It turns out Shohei Ohtani is human after all. The two-way Japanese sensation who has taken the big leagues by storm the first three weeks of the season has suffered his first minor setback. Ohtani lasted just two innings during Tuesday’s start against the Boston Red Sox until he was removed because of a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand. Ohtani needed 66 pitches to get through those two innings, allowing three runs in the team’s 10-1 loss to Bostn.
“(The blister) had an effect on the overall command of all his pitches,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after the game. “He got through two innings, but we don’t want it to get any worse. Just make sure you bounce back for his next start, which we anticipate right now.”
Ohtani’s blister spoiled a much-anticipated matchup between the Japanese right and the Red Sox, the best team in baseball at 14-2. In his first two big league starts, Ohtani allowed just three runs over 13 innings. He struck out 18 and allowed just six total base runners on those two starts. Of course, both starts came against the Oakland A’s, a sub-.500 team. Facing the Red Sox was his biggest test of the young season. However, the blister caused Ohtani to get an incomplete on the test.
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“The medical people took a look at it, and they thought it would be fine for today,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “I also felt the same way, but I tried to pitch today, and with the high intensity of the game, it didn’t hold up too well.”
Ohtani says that he’s dealt with blisters previously. He admits the blistered hindered the location of his pitches during Tuesday’s game. But he doesn’t think it’ll be an issue moving forward. In fact, the blister should have no impact on his ability to hit, meaning he should be back in the DH spot on Thursday. Ohtani is hitting .367 with an OPS of 1.191 in his first 30 at-bats of the season.
At the moment, the Angels are optimistic that Ohtani will be able to make his next start. He’s currently penciled in to start next Tuesday against the Houston Astros, another potent offensive club that figures to be a good litmus test for him. However, the Angels won’t force him back to the mound too soon if the blister issue lingers.
“We’ll be flexible,” Scioscia said of Ohtani’s next scheduled start. “Obviously, this is a new wrinkle right now, with the blister coming up, but we’ll get into that later in the week. He’s going to hit a couple times, obviously, before he pitches again. We’ll see where everything sets up.”
Obviously, this is the first time Ohtani has looked anything less than super-human during his first month in the majors. But it appears to be little more than a bump in the road. The good news is that the Angels can still benefit from Ohtani’s bat even if he has to miss a start. While Ohtani may have suffered his first setback, it shouldn’t be long until he’s back to helping the AL West leaders win games.