And so the great experiment begins, the Angels donning lab coats and goggles as they attempt to fit baseball's first potential two-way star since Babe Ruth into their rotation and lineup and hoping it all doesn't blow up in their face. The chance of combustion, though, seems slim. Even if Shohei Ohtani is not the slugger he was in Japan, the 23-year-old right-hander, with his 100-mph fastball and vast array of off-speed pitches, could be an ace that provides great value for the $22.3 million the Angels invested in him. Either way, it will be interesting to see how Angels pitchers, who report to spring training with catchers on Tuesday and begin workouts Wednesday, adapt to a six-man rotation to accommodate Ohtani. And it should be fascinating to see how Ohtani transitions to the major leagues and handles the infrared spotlight on him. "If you're more of a risk-taker in life, this is exciting," general manager Billy Eppler said. "To use a maritime analogy, if you're sailing away from shore, the farther you sail, there's caution, there's awareness. Your senses are on higher alert. But there's also some intrigue and excitement with that." There's some uncertainty surrounding Ohtani, who was diagnosed in October with a small tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his prized elbow, a condition the Angels are not overly concerned about. Many pitchers have been successful with similar tears. There's also uncertainty surrounding a rotation that features five pitchers—Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs and Nick Tropeano—who missed significant chunks of the last two seasons because of injuries. Rotation setbacks could negate the upgrades the Mike Trout-led Angels made to their lineup—the signing of left fielder Justin Upton to a five-year, $106-million extension and acquisitions of third baseman Zack Cozart (three-year, $38-million free-agent) and second baseman Ian Kinsler (trade with Detroit). And they could derail the team's hopes of challenging for a playoff spot in a rugged American League West headed by the defending World Series-champion Houston Astros.
It could come down to one thing for Angels: Rotation, rotation, rotation
Los Angeles Times | Feb 12