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#pounditTuesday, August 9, 2022

Angels GM not guaranteeing Shohei Ohtani will make Opening Day roster

Shohei Ohtani

When the Los Angeles Angels surprisingly signed Japanese star Shohei Ohtani in December, the prevailing thought was that they had landed a front-end starter who could help them with a playoff push. There were some considerations that Ohtani could even bring some power to the lineup as an occasional DH.

But after Ohtani has struggled as both a hitter and pitcher in spring training, there are now no guarantees that he even makes the club’s Opening Day roster.

Speaking on Friday, Angels GM Billy Eppler left open the possibility for Ohtani to begin the season in the minors.

“It’s too early to make a judgment right now,” Eppler said of Ohtani Friday, via the Los Angeles Times’ Mike Digiovanna. “I know there’s an inherent human desire to want to know. We’re intellectually curious. But often times, you have to allow things to develop a little bit before getting to that point of trying to figure something out.”

Had Ohtani been pitching well, you have to figure this wouldn’t have even been a question and that Eppler would have been able to give a definitive answer. But with him struggling as much as he has, one has to wonder whether some time in the minors might be best for Ohtani’s development.

As a batter, Ohtani has gone 2-for-20 (.100) with three walks and seven strikeouts. As a pitcher, Ohtani has allowed 17 runs (15 earned) and 18 hits over 8.1 innings. But he does have 19 strikeouts compared to just three walks, which shows the kind of stuff he has.

The Angels had been planning to go to a six-man rotation and perhaps carry one less batter thanks to Ohtani’s anticipated presence. If they do not feel he is ready yet for the majors, that could alter things greatly for the club.

For what it’s worth, Angels manager Mike Scioscia is maintaining confidence in Ohtani and believes the two-way player is “close” to turning a corner.

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