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A Season Of Injuries-What Gives?

Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani for the time being is really “just” a one-way star. That’s because he was recently shut down as a pitcher because of a strained flexor pronator mass, which is a forearm muscle. Very likely, the 26-year-old right-hander won’t see the mound again in 2020. 

Ohtani’s lefty power swing, though, remains a weapon for the Angels. He reminded us of that in his very first plate appearance since being shut down as a pitcher. Ohtani, batting fourth and DHing for the Halos against the Mariners on Thursday afternoon (LAA-SEA GameTracker), did this to an incoming Taijuan Walker splitter: 

That’s 102 mph off the bat and 351 feet to the opposite field. That’s also Ohtani’s third homer of the season in seven games. 

It’s fair to wonder about Ohtani’s future on the mound, given that he’s got a Tommy John surgery in his recent history in addition to his current woes. You also have to wonder whether, in light of his injury history, whether he has more potential at the plate than he does on the mound. 

Ohtani entered Thursday’s tilt with a career OPS+ of 132, and that’s despite those injuries (yes, pitching injuries can affect hitting) and despite devoting partial attention to his craft at the plate. As well, he’s DHing because of his pitching. Ohtani has the speed, athleticism, and arm (when it’s healthy) to be a plus defensive outfielder. 

By all indications, Ohtani will resume his two-way career once his right arm is seaworthy again, but the most sensible path forward might be to let him realize his potential as an everyday position player. 


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