It remains to be seen how the Angels will deploy Shohei Ohtani once the regular season begins, but a report emerged Wednesday indicating the two-way Japanese star will start at designated hitter for the club's Opening Day matchup against the A's and make his pitching debut two days later on March 31.
Angels general manager Billy Eppler denied the report.
"That is incorrect," Eppler told MLB.com's Maria Guardado:
"We have not laid out plans for anyone at this time."
The Halos have yet to commit to Ohtani, one of the offseason's most coveted free agents, making the Opening Day roster. Though that remains to be the expectation, it seemed like a certainty heading into Spring Training, but he's struggled thus far.
At the plate, Ohtani is batting .107 (3-for-28) in 12 Cactus League games. All three of his hits have been singles.
On the mound, Ohtani's performance has been marked by inconsistency. In his last outing, Friday against the Rockies, he was expected to throw 75 pitches over four or five innings, but instead was tagged for seven runs and needed 50 pitches to record four outs. Including Minor League starts, Ohtani has given up 17 runs (15 earned) on 18 hits over 8 1/3 innings (16.20 ERA) in his four appearances on the mound this spring.
"We're not going to get into roster decisions," Scioscia said before Ohtani's last outing.
"I can only say that Shohei's talent is real. Obviously we believe in it. We anticipate him being ready to both pitch and hit when the season starts. And we're going to work hard to reach that goal from now until we start the season. That's what we're going to focus on."
The Angels were off Wednesday, and Ohtani is scheduled for a bullpen session Thursday prior to his next start Saturday. He won't bat in a game again until, at the earliest, Monday against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.