The first time I read that Shohei Ohtani was going to split time as a once-a-week starter and four-day-a-week designated hitter for the Angels, my reaction was deliberate: Hated it!
I don't use that word, much. But I truly hated the concept. Such a disservice to that young man.
Now I don't profess to know about everything. And I really don't pretend to be an expert about anything except being a single father. Heck, I was a self-proclaimed Single Father of the Year from 1997 through 2014. After raising a young martial artist turned baseball player turned wrestler, I've learned from the same young man who transitioned into a professional bodybuilder that all pro athletes need time to recover from the trauma he or she puts his or her body through.
Can you imagine what MLB players are going through during this crammed 60-game baseball schedule? They most certainly need the proper recovery based on their roles on the team, a pitcher even more so. And while Ohtani may not have been playing the day before or after he starts — he was to have Saturdays and Mondays off — he served as a designated hitter the other days.
How's that working out? Ohtani is 4 for 27 (.148) with just two home runs this season.
You can add one Magnetic Resonance Image to his stat line now. The right-hander, who had Tommy John surgery in September 2018, reported discomfort in his arm after Sunday's start against the Astros, had an MRI on Monday and later learned he suffered a grade 1-2 strain of the flexor pronator mass. That translates into being shelved for anywhere between four to six weeks, the Angels said in a statement, adding his status as a DH is day-to-day.
“He needs to stick to one or another and that way he can properly condition and properly recover from it," certified athletic trainer Joe Rainone said. "That's why they don't have pitchers playing every day, it just doesn't make any sense. You've got a condensed season first of all, with guys coming in who probably aren't properly conditioned the way they should be. Now you've got a guy who's playing two different positions as a pitcher and a hitter. That complicates things even more.”
Rainone, who has worked with dozens of Major League Baseball players at Tim Soder Physical Therapy in Las Vegas, agreed it would be impossible for Ohtani to go through the proper recovery between starts, while serving as a DH as well.
Typically, for a pitcher working on four days’ rest, he would start on say, Sunday, then go through active recovery (massage, stretch, stimulus and ice) on Monday, do some light throwing and a light workout on Tuesday, maybe a bit more of an intense throwing session on Wednesday, and then rest and maybe some band work on Thursday before his next start on Friday.
“It's hard to get into a routine if you're playing two positions, because you can't focus on two things at once," Rainone said. "When you should be recovering, you're still playing. He's not able to actively rest. You can't get into a proper routine by playing two positions. They need to focus on one thing or another.”
Shame on the Angels, as there was no precedent for this, and now their trial-and-error project with someone as important as Ohtani has gone awry and complicates their planned six-man rotation.
My advice is to play against the Halos and list only Ohtani once he returns. If they decide to use him only as a pitcher, do your research and pick your spots. There may be money to be made in fading the Halos with Ohtani on the hill.
Now, let's try to find some value and keep the undefeated streak alive.
Twins at Pirates: Kenta Maeda (2-0, 1.64) has come out strong in his first season with the Twins, using a variety of pitches, including his slider and change up, to shutdown his first two opponents. He'll handcuff the Bucs. TWINS
Giants at Rockies: Kyle Freeland (2-0, 1.50) is a Denver-native and was stellar in his home debut against the Padres. He is 10-2 in 15 starts at Coors Field, with a 2.40 ERA and should dominate against San Francisco. ROCKIES
Astros at Diamondbacks: Now that Zack Greinke (0-0, 5.00) is warmed up after two starts, he should be prepared to mow down his former teammates. ASTROS RUN LINE
Last week: 2-0