ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Shohei Ohtani is scheduled to throw a ”full gorilla” bullpen session on Sunday that will give the Los Angeles Angels a better idea if the blister that forced the Japanese two-way sensation out of his last pitching start has healed.
”He’s feeling much better so we’re encouraged,” manager Mike Scioscia said Saturday before Angels played the San Francisco Giants.
Scioscia said he’ll wait until after Sunday afternoon’s game to confirm when Ohtani’s next pitching start will be. It could be Monday at Houston.
A blister on his right middle finger forced him out of Tuesday night’s start against Boston after just two innings. He allowed four hits and three runs on 66 pitches, and couldn’t throw his breaking pitches for strikes.
Ohtani threw a light bullpen session on Friday before going 2 for 4 in an 8-1 loss to the Giants.
”He felt good,” Scioscia said. ”It was just a touch and feel. The effort level was just really to feel the baseball. It wasn’t a full gorilla bullpen where you go hard. Sunday’s bullpen will give us a little better idea. But yesterday was definitely a good day as far as taking one step forward.”
Ohtani might also be back in the lineup as the designated hitter on Sunday, when the Angels are scheduled to face right-hander Johnny Cueto.
The left-handed hitter Ohtani wasn’t in the lineup Saturday night, when the Angels faced left-hander Derek Holland. But he was hitting prodigious home runs in batting practice to right and center fields.
Scioscia said the decision to sit Ohtani on Saturday was based mostly on matchups but and also to get other players into the lineup. Albert Pujols, who needs nine hits to reach 3,000 for his career, was the DH Saturday night while Jefry Marte played first base.
Scioscia said it will be normal for Ohtani to throw bullpens on the same day that he’s in the lineup as a DH.
The manager said Ohtani’s routine could evolve.
”Absolutely. There’s no doubt that there’s a flexibility built into this,” Scioscia said. ”It’s the first time we’re all going through this, Shoehei included. As we’re getting some experience as to what he needs and what’s going to make him the best player and the most productive player, obviously we’ll adjust from it. I think it’s a good starting point. We will certainly use all the information that we gather from him playing and pitching and hitting and we can always make adjustments. I’d be surprised if there weren’t any adjustments. I think it’s a real good template that has a lot of historical data from what he did in Japan that’s applied to it. And I think we’re going to adjust however we have to. We’ll be flexible.”
Ohtani is hitting .342 with three homers and 11 RBIs. On the mound, he’s 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA with 19 strikeouts and four walks.
Scioscia also said that if Ohtani starts as a pitcher in interleague play in an NL ballpark, that he won’t necessarily be locked into hitting ninth.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy was impressed with Ohtani’s two singles Friday night. The first was starter Jeff Samardzija and the second was off lefty reliever Josh Osich.
”Tell you what, he’s got a nice swing,” Bochy said. ”He gets that foot down early and he’s ready to go. He’s a great athlete. There’s no getting around it. This guy can run, throw, hit, hit with power.”
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