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Video: Shohei Ohtani hits first homer of 2019

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Angels DH Shohei Ohtani scuffled in his first five games of the season, registering just four hits (all singles) in 24 trips to the plate. He got on the board in a big way on Monday night against the Twins, blasting a two-run home run off of José Berríos in the third inning to give the Angels a 3-2 lead.

Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery after the 2018 season, which means he won’t be pitching until 2020. He needed to miss only the first 34 games of the 2019 season as a batter and will serve as a DH for the rest of the season.

Last year, Ohtani earned AL Rookie of the Year Award honors, batting .285/.361/.564 with 22 home runs, 61 RBI, 59 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases while also compiling as a pitcher a 3.31 ERA with a 63/22 K/BB ratio across 51 2/3 innings.

Nationals to reinstate Max Scherzer on Thursday

Max Scherzer
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Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.

It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.

While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.

If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.