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.
Jon Heyman reports that 11 MLB umpires have opted out of the 2020 season or have otherwise declined to participate. He says “some are said to have family members who are ill.” The umpires’ identities are not yet known.
Umpires, like players, have the right to opt-out with full pay if they are in a high risk group due to preexisting health conditions. Umpires can, obviously, be older as well, so age factors into it for some as well. Also like players, umpires who are themselves not high risk can opt-out if they have concern for the health of family members, though they will forego paychecks.
Recently, one umpire who is high risk — Joe West — made headlines for not only choosing not to opt-out but for also giving voice to COVID-19 denialism, questioning official statistics about infections and deaths.
The latest on West: