Lidge: I'm "Nervous" About Ohtani

The Angels want fans in the seats, sure, but they may be jeopardizing Ohtani's rehab – and his future, Brad Lidge says

Reiter Than You
May 08, 2019 - 8:55 am
Shohei Ohtani

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Shohei Ohtani went 0-for-4 with an RBI groundout and a walk in his 2019 debut Tuesday, as the Angels (16-19) beat the Tigers, 5-2.

There’s just one problem: Ohtani had Tommy John surgery in October.

“I’ve never seen a pitcher coming back from Tommy John all of a sudden hitting,” Brad Lidge said on Reiter Than You. “The one thing about Tommy John surgery is it’s happened so often that it’s a very precise regimen where guys know exactly what they’re doing day in and day out (with rehab). It’s a super-regimented scheduled every single day in order to be able to get back when you want.”

Well, that apparently will not be the case with Ohtani. 

“You’re asking him to do tons of physical stuff on the field,” Lidge said. “You can take an awkward swing. You can have an a weird follow-through on a breaking ball that you kind of roll over that right arm and all of a sudden it kind of tweaks that ligament a little bit. To be totally honest, I’m nervous about it a little bit. I hope he doesn’t hurt his arm at all by hitting. As a left-handed hitter, he’s probably going to be OK, but there are definitely some big risks that they are taking in order to bring fans to the stadium this year.” 

Ohtani hit .285 with 22 home runs and 61 RBIs in 367 plate appearances last season. As a pitcher, he was 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 51 and 2/3 innings in 10 starts, becoming the first player since Babe Ruth to have 10+ home runs and four-plus pitching wins in a season.

“That is a freakish talent and skill,” Lidge sad. “I think he does have the capability, absolutely, of being a guy that is a quality everyday player in the major leagues as a hitter – ad an ace. How the Angels are able to balance that going forward is anyone’s guess, but he has the ability to do both things. I would just be cautious if I was the Angels. You didn’t do a whole lot this offseason to improve a ton, so far it hasn’t been great out there, and it’s probably not going to be a great season for them. You’re bringing him back. I get it, it’s going to bring fans to the stadium and everyone wants to see him play. 

“But his highest ceiling is still as a pitcher,” Lidge continued, “and you don’t want to jeopardize his rehab coming back from Tommy John with a blown oblique and a pulled hammy. Those will prevent him from getting back to full strength pitching wise. They have to be very careful. It’s a fine balance between getting people into the seats and jeopardizing him and his rehab.”

Click below to listen to Lidge’s interview in its entirety.