The Angels hope to turn Shohei Ohtani back into a two-way performer rather early in the 2020 season — just not quite as soon as might have been hoped. He’s presently on track to step back into the rotation in mid-May, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports (Twitter link).
It’s generally promising to hear that Ohtani has a course charted for polishing off his Tommy John surgery rehab. But it’s not an especially speedy track. Ohtani received his new ulnar collateral ligament on October 1st of 2018 — a procedure that was delayed to allow him to continue serving as a DH late in that immensely impressive rookie campaign.
It was all but inevitable that Ohtani wouldn’t be able to pitch in 2019. There was never any effort to rush him back — for obvious reasons, given his immense long-term value. But it always seemed reasonable to presume that the uber-talented 25-year-old would be ready to roll at the start of the 2020 campaign, at which time he’ll be more than 18 months removed from his surgery.
Ohtani will still be able to serve as a DH from the jump. But missing another six weeks of his mound work — if indeed he’s able to throw in the majors at the projected point — dents the Halos’ hopes to turn in an impressive start-to-finish season that breaks a postseason drought. Toppling the Astros obviously won’t be easy.