Plenty of hype is surrounding two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani as he gets set for his first spring training with the Angels, but Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia was sure to reiterate to reporters Tuesday that the club sees Ohtani as a pitcher first and hitter second.
“He’s going to get the most looks as a pitcher,” Scioscia said. “If he can pitch to his capabilities, that will always influence your team more than what he would do hitting. But that’s not to say he won’t have a chance to be a difference-maker on the offensive end, too.
“There’s a certain novelty to it. You’ve had Madison Bumgarner swing the bat with the Giants, but not like we’re trying to implement with Shohei. I don’t think it’s going to be that big of an issue. We need him to pitch. He’s a big part of our rotation. Secondary to that, when he has an opportunity to swing the bat, we definitely want to take a look at him.”
The Angels bested six other finalists in landing Ohtani this offseason. The 23-year-old starred on the mound and at the plate in Japan, going 42-15 with a 2.52 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP as well as hitting .286 with 48 home runs and 166 RBIs over 403 games across five seasons with the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japan Pacific League.
Ohtani underwent a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) shot in October to help treat a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm and had right ankle surgery in October. He took a physical with the Angels on Tuesday before getting some swings in the cage and taking part in long toss.
With the Angels also bringing several other starters back from serious injury, Scioscia said the team intends to use a six-man rotation.
“In talking with (general manager) Billy Eppler and everyone who’s dived into this, we all feel very comfortable with it,” Scioscia said. “Let’s get the six best guys we have and get after it. It will not only pay dividends for Shohei, but with the rest of our staff to hopefully keep them effective and strong through the whole season.”
After Ohtani, Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney and Matt Shoemaker are projected to fill out the top five rotation spots. Parker Bridwell, Nick Tropeano and JC Ramirez are expected to be in the mix for the sixth spot.
–Field Level Media