Ohtani struggled with his control, walking three batters and allowing three hits before being pulled for a reliever. In total, he threw 30 pitches and was charged with five runs.
He electrified MLB in 2018 by performing at a star level as both a pitcher and hitter en route to AL Rookie of the Year honors. However, he only made 10 starts before he injured his elbow and required Tommy John surgery. The Japanese star, secured by the Angels in a closely watched recruiting process prior to 2018, is now 26 and attempting to resume the two-way player experiment.
The Angels and manager Joe Maddon are expected to start him once a week as a pitcher, on Sundays, while he plays as a designated hitter most other days. He has slugged 40 homers and logged a 135 OPS+ — meaning his batting line has been 35 percent better than the average major league hitter — in his career thus far.
Sunday’s short outing was worrisome beyond the poor results. Ohtani’s fastball averaged only 93 mph Sunday after sitting at 97 mph in 2018. The Angels, thin on proven pitchers and needing Ohtani to reach his potential to compete in a difficult division, will have to hope this first start was a sign of rust in his return from surgery.
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