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OC Register: Angels manager Joe Maddon on Shohei Ohtani: ‘These numbers are big’


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With the caveat that spring training workouts mean little, and so workouts before spring training mean even less, Joe Maddon seems to be pretty impressed with what Shohei Ohtani is doing these days.

“He was showing velocity numbers, and it’s hard to show 95-plus in a workout,” the Angels manager said Tuesday, the day before the Angels first official workout of the spring in Tempe, Ariz. “He looked magnificent. The way the arm was working. The (velocity) numbers were high. Normally you get a workout or a (bullpen session), a guy is working on things, and you get a nice number, but you’re not going to get a big number. These numbers are big.”

This time last year, Ohtani hadn’t even started throwing. The Angels wanted to limit his innings in his first season after Tommy John surgery, so they had him plan for a slow buildup so he could begin pitching in mid May.

Of course, the pandemic altered those plans and Ohtani ended up doing workouts at Angel Stadium and pitching in a few intrasquad games in preparation for the shortened season to start in July.

Perhaps because of the less than ideal preparation, Ohtani got hurt again just a few innings into his season, and another season of hope for him as a two-way sensation was down the drain.

Given that history, it’s understandable for skeptics to reserve judgment on Ohtani for 2021.

Maddon, though, could not have been much more optimistic as he described what he’s seen and heard about Ohtani heading into camp. Now more than two years removed from his October 2018 Tommy John surgery, Ohtani has no restrictions.

“Right now I’m hearing full go,” Maddon said. “His workouts have been fabulous. The reports I’ve been getting are really good, honestly really good so I’m eager to watch this like everybody else is. If we get Shohei in the right direction, that’d be pretty good offseason acquisition right there.”

The Angels have Ohtani penciled in as part of a rotation that includes Dylan Bundy, Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning, José Quintana and Alex Cobb. Each of those pitchers could be anywhere from a mid- to back-end starter, but Ohtani has perhaps has the highest ceiling of them all.

If he could pitch like he did when he first reached the majors — but now with the added experience of three years being in the big leagues — the Angels might really have something. In the nine starts before Ohtani hurt his elbow in 2018, he had a 3.10 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 49-1/3 innings.

Of course, that is a huge if.

“Shohei Ohtani could be one of the greatest players of his generation, given the opportunity,” Maddon said.

How the Angels get him there remains to be seen. Maddon said his plan is, essentially, to not have a plan.

There are no innings limits. No schedule in which he’ll pitch on a certain day, with a certain number of days rest. No rules about when he can hit and when he can’t.

Maddon said only that they will have Ohtani focus on preparing to pitch, and work his hitting around that, simply because pitching takes more preparation.

Beyond that, the slate is blank.

“I don’t want to tell him what he can or cannot do, and neither does (GM Perry Minasian),” Maddon said. “So let’s watch him. Let’s talk to him. Let’s communicate with him. Let’s permit him to go out there. He was very successful in Japan. Let’s just see what he does and watch and make our evaluations and adjustments based on what we’re seeing, and not be kind of prejudice or predisposed in advance.”

MATT WISE PROMOTED

Matt Wise, who was the bullpen coach last season, has been promoted to serve as pitching coach while Mickey Callaway remains suspended, pending an investigation.

Wise pitched parts of eight years in the majors, and had been an Angels minor league pitching coach for eight years before he was added to the big league staff in 2020.

Dom Chiti will take over Wise’s role as bullpen coach. Chiti had previously worked as a big league bullpen coach for the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles. He worked in the Atlanta Braves front office under Minasian, who hired him to work in the Angels’ front office.

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1 hour ago, AngelsWin.com said:

With the caveat that spring training workouts mean little, and so workouts before spring training mean even less, Joe Maddon seems to be pretty impressed with what Shohei Ohtani is doing these days.

“If we get Shohei in the right direction, that’d be pretty good offseason acquisition right there.”

 

 

Deja vu.

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If nothing else. Ohtani will be going into spring with a lot more confidence in his elbow than going in last year.  I think the extra year will allow him to concentrate on his mechanics and pitches without (or less of) the trepidation that comes with coming off of TJ.  I expect good things.  A full season, albeit likely less than 130 innings, of even 80% of 2018 Ohtani, will go a long way toward taking away innings from the back end of the rotation and further insulate it from the effects of the inevitable injuries.  

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24 minutes ago, Angelsjunky said:

It is hard not to get one's hopes up, especially when you consider that those 2018 pitching numbers were just him getting used to the majors. He really has the arsenal to be a 2.50 ERA, #1 pitcher. 

 

Hope is a good thing. That being said I'm sure inn will have some kind of limit. This is a important year for him on the mound.  

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36 minutes ago, AngelsLakersFan said:

This is Joe Maddon mind games in play. 

Ohtani may have 'no limit' but don't be surprised when he gets pulled after the 4th inning with 60 pitches in his first start.

Of course, but that isn't negating what he's saying. I think he's just saying that inning and pitch counts right now would be artificial, that he'll let how Ohtani actually performs and feels dictate how much he'll play.

But I have no doubt that they'll handle him with kid gloves, at least at first. 

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3 minutes ago, T.G. said:

I'm guessing the "no special rules" things is related to days off before or after pitching...

Yeah, I had that same thought. While I can see the logic behind not playing him the day before (or of) a start, I don't see why he can't hit the rest of the week. If swinging a bat is bad for his pitching arm then he shouldn't be swinging a bat at all. But I don't think it is.

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If Ohtani can start off conservatively and pitch with no discomfort then he should get progressively better. Maddon is being cagey, not giving high expectations, but suggesting the potential is there. Velocity may be good, but control could be longer to regain. Also stamina could be an issue. But overall I think it will be a positive help for the rotation.

And don't forget that his hitting regressed last year. That needs to be improved too. 

And just a reminder that the real Tommy John suffered his injury during a brawl. Little did anyone know that the future would know his name for a surgical procedure rather than his pretty nice playing career.

P_20201219_221454_vHDR_Auto_1.jpg

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7 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

It is hard not to get one's hopes up, especially when you consider that those 2018 pitching numbers were just him getting used to the majors. He really has the arsenal to be a 2.50 ERA, #1 pitcher. 

 

He also needed TJ surgery for awhile beforehand, as he had a partial tear. There's no reason not to throw him in the deep end and see how he handles it. If he can give the team 20-22 starts a year, they know what they have. And most important? The playoffs. If he figures it out this year, we can pitch him to open a series, and then maybe in relief the rest of the series? Figure out how to bring him in and have him bat? 

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2 hours ago, ten ocho recon scout said:

Not that it needs to be said, but if hes healthy, and even 70 percent of who he was pre tommy john (skill wise), this is huge. AJ said he has the stuff to be an ace. If hes "only" a solid 2, thats a huge add for us.

You're wrong. 

 

 

 

 

 

It needed to be said.

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9 hours ago, Duren, Duren said:

If Ohtani can start off conservatively and pitch with no discomfort then he should get progressively better. Maddon is being cagey, not giving high expectations, but suggesting the potential is there. Velocity may be good, but control could be longer to regain. Also stamina could be an issue. But overall I think it will be a positive help for the rotation.

And don't forget that his hitting regressed last year. That needs to be improved too. 

And just a reminder that the real Tommy John suffered his injury during a brawl. Little did anyone know that the future would know his name for a surgical procedure rather than his pretty nice playing career.

P_20201219_221454_vHDR_Auto_1.jpgI

i believe the moral of that story is don’t throw up and in at the Tiger’s fiery Dick McAuillife.

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