Shohei Ohtani’s injury-marred second half continued on Wednesday afternoon, as the Angels two-way phenom was pulled from his start against the Cincinnati Reds in the second inning with an apparent injury. Ohtani threw just 25 pitches before leaving the game after a brief conversation with a team trainer:
Shohei Ohtani has left the mound with the trainer and is out of the game pic.twitter.com/Oy5TfVyo6H— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) August 23, 2023
A clarification from the team said that Ohtani was taken out due to arm fatigue, and rookie Noah Schanuel has replaced him as L.A.’s DH for the day:
Shohei Ohtani was removed from today's game with arm fatigue.— Angels PR (@LAAngelsPR) August 23, 2023
It’s the same diagnosis as the one the team used back on August 8, when Ohtani was pulled from his start after four shutout innings due to cramping in his pitching hand — just the latest in a long line of nagging injuries that have plagued the presumptive AL MVP in recent weeks. He remains a force when he’s able to take the field — he clubbed his 44th homer of the season in the bottom of the first on Wednesday — but he’s dealt with seemingly one health scare after another as the Angels tumble down the standings in the second half. Ohtani was also forced to cut consecutive starts short in July due to a blister issue on his throwing hand, and he’s experienced cramping in both of his legs of late as well.
His start against Cincinnati on Wednesday marked his return to the mound after two weeks of rest, and pretty quickly it became apparent that Ohtani wasn’t right. Despite racking up two strikeouts in a clean first inning — including one against Reds star rookie Elly De La Cruz — the righty’s velocity was noticeably down, nearly four mph on his fastball:
Shohei Ohtani is done after facing five batters.— Brent Maguire (@bmags94) August 23, 2023
His velocity was noticeably down across the board.
It was hard to tell if that was intentional at first but he's obviously still dealing with arm fatigue (or blisters/cramping). pic.twitter.com/kiPN6Sy6Ry
Given the literally unprecedented workload Ohtani’s shouldered this season as he tries to drag the beleaguered Angels to the postseason, it’s understandable that his body might be breaking down a bit. With the Angels’ Wild Card hopes rapidly fading — despite going all-in at the trade deadline, the team entered play today losers of seven of 10 and 10 games back of the Mariners for the AL’s third and final spot — the team is clearly erring on the side of caution with its best player, not wanting to risk injury as Ohtani nears his hotly-anticipated free agency this winter.