The Angels announced today that Shohei Ohtani will return to the mound on Sunday, as Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register was among those to report on Twitter. He had not thrown in the majors since being diagnosed with a grade 2 UCL sprain in early June.
In other news, the Halos have activated outfielder Justin Upton from the DL. And the organization called up backstop Jose Briceno to take the roster spot and role vacated by the just-dealt Bobby Wilson.
Additionally, the team indicated that right-hander Matt Shoemaker is nearing his own activation, as Fletcher further tweets. That’s another good bit of injury news for an organization that needs as many as it can get.
Ohtani, 24, has been active on the MLB roster in the meantime, of course. He was cleared to resume performing his services as a designated hitter prior to being ready to return to the hill. While continuing to post impressive numbers with the bat, the Japanese star has been building up his stamina in hopes of making it back into the rotation.
For the Halos, the late-season return of Ohtani as a pitcher won’t make up for the club’s intervening struggles. But his showing will certainly be important for the future. If the right-hander can return to full strength this year without issue, then he and the organization can go into the offseason feeling reasonably confident that he’ll be able to ramp up next spring and turn in a full 2019 season. If things go south, then more drastic scenarios may need to be considered.
It’s not an altogether different scenario for Shoemaker, who has only made one start to this point of the season and was limited to 14 outings last year. The 31-year-old, who’ll be eligible for his third of four potential trips through the arbitration process this fall, had been a solid rotation presence for the club in the prior three campaigns.