Shohei Ohtani returned to the mound Sunday afternoon after not pitching for almost two years following Tommy John surgery. It was not an encouraging outing for the Los Angeles Angels star.
Ohtani failed to record an out against the Oakland A's and was pulled after 30 pitches. In that time, he allowed three hits and three walks and was charged with five earned runs. His ERA is currently infinity. It was his first start since September 2, 2018.
Ohtani opened his outing by giving up a single to Marcus Semien, then he walked Ramon Laureano and Matt Chapman to load the bases. Matt Olson followed that up with a walk to force in a run, before Mark Canha singled to score Chapman and Laureano. Robbie Grossman then singled to score a fourth run before Ohtani was pulled in favor of Matt Andriese. Andriese gave up the fifth run on a double play.
A lot is expected of Ohtani this season, so this was not encouraging. The 26-year-old opted to play last season as the Angels' designated hitter while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. While he's a good hitter, he's far more valuable on the mound. Before tearing his ulnar collateral ligament as a rookie in 2018, he was 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA a 1.16 WHIP and 63 strikeouts in 51.2 innings over 10 starts.
For the Angels to make the jump they're expecting to this year, Ohtani needs to be good on the mound. Hopefully Sunday's outing was just a hiccup on the road to getting back to his old self.