ANAHEIM – The issue of blisters that shadowed Shohei Ohtani during his first five pro seasons in Japan has come with him to the major leagues.
The Los Angeles Angels’ slugging right-handed pitcher left Tuesday’s 10-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox after 66 pitches over two innings due to a blister he said first surfaced during his last start, nine days earlier.
“After my previous start, it was just there a little, but I felt I could still make a go of it,” Ohtani (2-1) said after suffering his first loss since coming to the majors this season.
“I thought I could have gone a little longer, but after speaking with the medical staff it was decided that would be it for me. I kind of know how long it will take to heal. I’ll just see how it looks day by day and prepare as usual for my next start to come around.”
Unlike his previous outing, when Ohtani was able to pinpoint both his fastball and his splitter against the Oakland A’s, he was all over the place against the powerful Red Sox. Boston’s hitters forced Ohtani to throw his fastball in the zone and were able to hit it, despite the pitcher’s excellent velocity.
“He had a blister on his middle finger, and he didn’t say anything in warmups about it bothering him, but it had an effect on some of his command,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He got through two innings, but we don’t want it to get any worse and just hope he can bounce back for his next start. I think it definitely affected his command on some pitches. He’s had these occasionally in Japan. He’s not overly concerned.”
In 2016, a blister Ohtani developed on July 10 forced him from the mound and into the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters’ lineup on a daily basis for roughly two months. At the conclusion of that season, Ohtani was named the Pacific League MVP and made the league’s Best Nine team as both pitcher and designated hitter.
Asked if he might be on track for a repeat of that year, in which he hit 22 home runs while going 10-4 on the mound, Ohtani said, “No, I don’t think so.”
“Had this happened toward the end of the season, I definitely would have been able to keep going,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, pitchers get blisters and crack their fingernails, and you have to be effective regardless of that.”
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