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OC Register: Angels, fans begin Blister Watch with Shohei Ohtani


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ANAHEIM — Let the analysis of the world’s most watched blister begin.

Shohei Ohtani, whose every move is watched closely by fans on both sides of the Pacific, came out of Tuesday’s start in part because he was developing a troublesome blister.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Angels still weren’t certain he would be able to make his next start, although they are remaining optimistic.

“We’re anticipating him to make his next start,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ll let you know when that is.”

So far the Angels have shown they prefer to have Ohtani pitch on six days rest, which would have him in line to start next Tuesday in Houston. However, because all the other pitchers are able to go on four days rest, they could easily push Ohtani back to Wednesday or even next weekend.

“He’s not very concerned about it,” Scioscia said. “Our medical staff is going to pay a lot of attention to make sure first that he’s able to throw his bullpen and see how he comes out of things. We’re going to take this one step at a time. We don’t have to make a decision for a while.”

Although Ohtani missed two months of pitching because of a blister problem in 2016, he said after Tuesday’s game that this didn’t seem that serious. He said he usually was able to return without missing any time when he’s had blisters.

The blister, on his right middle finger, makes his split-finger fastball difficult to command.

Scioscia, however, doesn’t feel the blister will take that pitch from his repertoire.

“He used his split a lot in his first two outings and had no issue with it,” Scioscia said. “It’s just something that came up last night. He’ll be able to throw all his pitches.”

As for Ohtani’s hitting, Scioscia said he will be “available” to be in the lineup at DH on Thursday. The Boston Red Sox are starting left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, so it would not be a surprise if Ohtani didn’t play. A left-handed hitter, Ohtani has started just one of the three games when he’s been available and the opponent started a left-handed pitcher.

Scioscia reiterated that the decision whether Ohtani is in the lineup is totally baseball-related, not blister-related.

“He has no problems swinging the bat,” Scioscia said.

However, it’s worth noting that the Angels would lose days they could retroactively place Ohtani on the disabled list if he plays as the DH. As of now, they could still put him on the DL and delay his next start by only four days. If he hits, the 10-day clock would start over.

TALKING TO OHTANI

Before Ohtani came out of Tuesday’s game, a new issue arose that puzzled catcher Martín Maldonado.

Ohtani’s interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, accompanied pitching coach Charlie Nagy to the mound in the second inning. When Maldonado later came out on his own, Mizuhara remained in the dugout.

A day later, Maldonado said in that particular case he didn’t need Mizuhara because that visit was just to give Ohtani a break, not to discuss strategy. But he acknowledged he wasn’t sure about the rules of when Mizuhara could come to the mound.

Scioscia said Wednesday that Mizuhara would have been allowed if Maldonado would have needed him.

UP NEXT

Angels (Nick Tropeano, 1-0, 0.00) vs. Red Sox (Eduardo Rodriguez, 1-0, 3.72), Thursday, 7 p.m., Fox Sports West, KLAA (830 AM)

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