Angels star Ohtani to miss Friday pitching start, mound season up in air

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani will miss his scheduled pitching start on Friday after feeling arm soreness, and manager Joe Maddon said he's not sure he will start again this season.

Maddon said the Angels weren't shutting down Ohtani yet, and hope he's only experiencing late-season fatigue.

"If he feels great, adamantly, I see nothing wrong with (his pitching again)," Maddon said.

"But if there's any kind of lingering soreness, you may not see him pitch. I just don’t know that answer yet."

Maddon said he had asked Ohtani about potentially shutting down for the rest of the season, either as a pitcher or a hitter, where he has slumped with a .147 batting average over the last 20 games.

"He felt he's still good and he still wants to get after it," Maddon said. "But I did broach the subject with him."

Ohtani underwent Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2018 after making 10 pitching starts in his first Major League Baseball season.

He didn't pitch at all in 2019, his season as a hitter ending early because of knee surgery.

He returned to the mound in 2020 but was eventually shut down because of a right forearm injury.

This season Ohtani emerged as the best pitcher in the Angels' starting rotation, with a dominant fastball and a stellar command of an array of breaking pitches.

In 21 starts, he has a 3.36 ERA, 136 strikeouts and a 9-2 record.

In August he had thrust himself into the American League Most Valuable Player conversation, notching his 40th home run of the season on August 18.

The 27-year-old former Nippon Ham Fighters star became the first left-handed batter in Angels history to reach 40 homers, surpassing Reggie Jackson's previous lefty high total of 39 from 1982.

He has added four more homers to his tally since then.