As Shohei Ohtani adjusts to the rhythms of Major League Baseball, Angels manager Mike Scioscia will tread lightly with his two-way player.
This is part of a new initiative the Angels' coaching and medical staffs have undertaken to avoid the pitfalls the team has experienced in the past. Four members of the Angels' Opening Day rotation -- Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney and Matt Shoemaker -- have struggled with injuries the past two seasons. Richards, the ace, missed almost all of 2016 and '17. Heaney and Skaggs missed the majority of those seasons, as well. Seven games into 2018, Heaney and Shoemaker are already on the disabled list.
When Heaney and Shoemaker return, Scioscia's Spring Training plan of a six-man rotation should come to fruition, affording starters the luxury of elongated rest times and more opportunity for strength training. It will also enable Ohtani to stick with the six days of rest that he grew accustomed to in Japan.
Ohtani appears poised to continue with those six days of rest, even as the Angels soldier on with a five-man rotation. That means that he will pitch every seven days for the foreseeable future, and be in the lineup as DH two to three games between starts.
Ohtani's regimen requires him to train both at the plate and on the mound, no matter what he's doing in the next game. That's normal for him and he believes it helps him prepare.
"So even when I play as a hitter, I still pitch, and that's part of my rhythm, that's something I've been doing the past five years in Japan," Ohtani said Tuesday, through an interpreter. "I think each at-bat -- one at-bat at a time, one game at a time -- and try to create a good rhythm."
Scioscia said that general manager Billy Eppler has a concrete plan about what the structure of Ohtani's hitting and pitching timetable will look like as the season goes on (it was made before Ohtani was even an Angel, during the recruiting process), but did not go into further detail. Scioscia said that anything could change, and that they're taking everything day by day.
"We're going to be very diligent in checking in with our medical department to see what [Ohtani's] availability will be on a day-to-day basis, and to make sure that he has the best chance to contribute with the bat and on the mound," Scioscia said.
Avery Yang | MLB.com