Shohei Ohtani fails to record an out in his return to the mound

1 Comment

Shohei Ohtani made his return to the mound yesterday. It was a nightmare. In his first pitching action since September 2, 2018, the two-way star faced six Oakland batters and didn’t retire a single one. It went like so:

Ohtani, having failed to record a single out, was then lifted for Matt Andriese, who induced a double play that scored the fifth Oakland run of the game and then struck out Sean Murphy to end the inning. The A’s would only score one more run in the game while the Angels went on to plate four so, yeah, this one was completely and totally on Ohtani.

What happened?

He certainly lacked his usual arm strength in Sunday. He threw 30 pitches, topping out at 94.7 mph with his fastball and averaging only 92.9 mph. When he was starting in 2018 he averaged 96.7 mph and hit triple digits on the regular. The walks, one reasonably suspects, are a function of him knowing that he can’t throw it by guys like he did a couple of years ago, thus causing him to pitch overly carefully. Nibbling when he used to fire it in there.

If that’s what Shohei Ohtani is doing, it’s a mental issue not a physical one Angels manage. “Believe me, health-wise, he’s fine” Angels manager Joe Maddon said after the game. Ohtani, speaking through an interpreter said “I think I wasn’t able to let my arm go entirely,” and said “I was focused more on throwing the ball than on feelings of trying to get the hitter out.” The takeaway: he didn’t trust his arm not to explode if he truly aired it out. A concern, Maddon noted, that wasn’t present during Summer Camp when Ohtani, though he struggled, was often hitting 97 on the gun.

Ohtani — determined to resume his status as baseball’s only true two-way player — usually gets the day off from DH duties after pitching. His outing was so short, however, Maddon suggested that he’d be in the lineup for this afternoon’s game against Oakland.

Brewers have 3 positive COVID tests at alternate site

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

MILWAUKEE — The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results Saturday and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.

The entire camp was placed in quarantine.

“We have gone through contact tracing,” Stearns said. “We do not believe it will have any impact at all on our major league team. We’ve been fortunate to get through this season relatively unscathed in this area. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get all the way there at our alternate site.”

Milwaukee entered Saturday one game behind the Reds and Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, with the top two teams qualifying for the postseason.

The Brewers still will be able to take taxi squad players with them on the team’s trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis in the final week of the season. He said those players have had repeated negative tests and the team is “confident” there would be no possible spread of the virus.

“Because of the nature of who these individuals were, it’s really not going to affect the quarantine group at all,” Stearns said. “We’re very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren’t interacting all that much with the individuals that tested positive.”