The Angels finally stated the obvious and revealed that Shohei Ohtani won’t be playing in the outfield, according to the OC Register’s Jeff Fletcher, and will be pitching and serving as a designated hitter only.
It limits the damage Albert Pujols can do to the lineup just by stepping to the plate, while also limiting the chance of injury for Ohtani and still making their most important offseason acquisition happy about his role on the team. Since that was the entire point of him choosing them in the first place and all.
That’s about as well as this was going to work out, and smart all around for Anaheim.
It’s slightly sad because getting to see Ohtani play outfield once a week would be entertaining, especially if we could put heart monitors on every member of the front office and could track their heart rates in games where he’s in the field. “Drink every time he makes a tough play and one of their heart rates spikes to worryingly high levels” would be a fun game to play.
But alas, they’re sticking with the six-man rotation and getting him rest when he needs it and at bats when he wants them, and everyone can go home happy. In Fletcher’s recent piece about Ohtani’s start to spring training, manager Mike Scioscia notes that his spring training days will be longer than others, and that they will be focused more on pitching.
The Angels landing Ohtani in the first place was huge, but not as huge as it will be for them to manage his rest and balance throughout the season. That they are so conscientious about every detail right now is a great sign that they won’t (or are less likely than many other teams) to mess this up for those anticipating Ohtani’s debut season.