Ohtani will likely return to the Angels roster as a designated hitter this week, Maddon said Tuesday night before the club opened a road series against the Seattle Mariners.
The Angels’ stance on Ohtani is unsurprising after the club announced they had stretched the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his throwing arm. The two-way star’s recovery from the strain requires him to refrain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.
“I don’t foresee at all that he will launch this year,” Maddon said. “Any type of program to launch will be very conservative.”
Ohtani was injured Sunday in the second inning of his second start since returning to the mound after Tommy John’s surgery at the end of 2018. Ohtani completed five marches in the 42-pitch inning against the Houston Astros, its speed decreasing later in the frame.
The arm injury is another obstacle on Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but was the Angels’ designated regular hitter last season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.
Ohtani has only played three games since June 2018, but the Angels still believe in Ohtani’s ability to be a two-way street, Maddon said.
“I see he can,” Maddon said. “We just have to get over the arm diseases and figure that out. But I saw it. He’s just such a high-end arm, and we’ve seen what he can do in the batter’s box. Now, maybe it could get to the point where he could choose to do one thing over the other and express it to us. I know he likes to hit. In my mind, he will always be able to do it.
The veteran manager believes Ohtani will benefit from full spring training and a normal season. Ohtani did not launch at full power for a starter when the coronavirus pandemic interrupted spring training in March because he was not supposed to launch until May when he returned from surgery.
“Getting into a regular season with a normal number of starts and all that gets the guys ready for a year is what we have to see, it’s a certain normalcy before we take that kind of determination” , Maddon said.