Angels general manager Billy Eppler told reporters on Thursday that Shohei Ohtani will not be ready for Opening Day.
Not the biggest shock in the world given that he had Tommy John surgery in October, but it’s not like the rehab for coming back to just hit, as Ohtani will do exclusively in 2019, is as long as it is for pitching. Eppler did not give a timetable for Ohtani’s return to DH duties, but assuming nothing goes wrong, he is expected to hit for most of the year.
Assuming he does, it should be a boon to the Angels’ lineup. The Rookie of the Year posted a batting line of .285/.361/.564 (152 OPS+) with 22 home runs — 13 of them coming in August and September — 61 RBI, 59 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 367 plate appearances in 2018.
Freddie Freeman‘s elbow began barking in the second half of the season and he was a shadow of himself in the month of September. The Braves rested him for half a minute in the season’s final week but he still played 158 games in 2019. They said he was good to go for the NLDS but he was clearly limited, going 4-for-22 in the Braves’ series loss to the Cardinals.
Today the Braves announced that Freeman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday. The team said today that the procedure involved the removal of three fragmented loose bodies and the cleaning up of multiple bone spur formations.
It’s not clear if more rest down the stretch would’ve made a difference for him — and it’s not clear that the Braves had options at first base for the postseason that were substantially better than even a limited Freeman — but it’s clear that not having Freeman feeling like himself in the heart of the order was a problem.
Freeman is expected to be good-to-go for spring training.