Shohei Ohtani's second start is delayed by a blister

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Jack Harris
·3 min read
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Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani strikes out in front of Toronto Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen during the fifth inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 8, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. The Angels won 7-5. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Angels' Shohei Ohtani strikes out in front of Toronto Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen during the fifth inning on Thursday in Dunedin, Fla. (Mike Carlson / Associated Press)

Shohei Ohtani won’t be making his second scheduled turn through the Angels starting rotation, with Angels manager Joe Maddon announcing Thursday that Ohtani’s next start on the mound won’t be until at least next week because the right-hander is nursing a blister.

Had the Angels stuck to their normal six-man rotation schedule, Ohtani’s next turn up would have been Sunday’s series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays. But now, Maddon said the Angels won’t make a decision on Ohtani’s pitching schedule until next week.

Ohtani developed a blister during spring training, contributing to command problems in his final exhibition start against the Dodgers last month. But it didn’t delay his regular season debut against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, nor did it seem to create any issues during his 92-pitch, 4⅔ inning outing that night — his first time hitting and pitching in the same regular season MLB game.

On Thursday, Maddon said Ohtani’s blister had “gotten a lot better” but also explained “we want this to be totally well and not have it become an issue this year. That’s why he’s being held back.”

Ohtani has continued serving as the Angels’ designated hitter, having said last month the blister doesn’t affect his swing, and he will be kept on a throwing program.

The Angels' revised pitching lineup for the weekend has left-hander José Quintana starting Saturday and right-hander Alex Cobb starting Sunday.

Next week, the Angels finish their trip with a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals starting Monday, then return home for a three-game set against the Minnesota Twins beginning Friday.

Maddon did not say whether Ohtani would be able to pitch before the end of the trip.

Ohtani has dealt with blisters previously in his career, including his last extended stretch as a full-time two-way player in his rookie season in 2018. That year, Ohtani made 10 starts before suffering an elbow injury that eventually required Tommy John surgery. He didn’t pitch in 2019 and made only two starts last season before again being sidelined by a forearm injury.

The Angels, however, began this season optimistic the 26-year-old could pitch on a normal turn in the six-man rotation — unlike when he was limited to one start per week in 2018. They’ll have to wait until at least next week to try to begin that routine.

In last weekend’s start against the White Sox, Ohtani gave up only one earned run and threw nine pitches above 100 mph. He also hit a home run that night and is batting .280 on the season with a .933 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.