Angels' Shohei Ohtani strains arm, won't throw for 4-6 weeks

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Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, walks off the mound after being taken out of the baseball game during the second inning against the Houston Astros on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Shohei Ohtani has a right forearm strain that will prevent the Los Angeles Angels' two-way star from throwing for at least four to six weeks, possibly ending his season as a pitcher after just two starts.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler announced Monday that Ohtani “has a grade 1-2 strain of the flexor pronator mass” — a collection of muscles and tendons in the forearm near the elbow.

The right-hander reported discomfort in his arm Sunday after he issued five walks and got only five outs in a rough 50-pitch start against Houston.

Ohtani is traveling with the Angels to Seattle, where they open a six-game road trip Tuesday night. The Angels also use Ohtani as their primary designated hitter between his mound starts, and he is day-to-day as a hitter, the team said.

But Ohtani is unlikely to begin a throwing program for at least a month, which means he might not have time to build himself back up to game strength before the 60-game major league season ends in late September.

The injury is the latest stateside setback for the 26-year-old Ohtani, who left Japan in late 2017 with a determination to become the majors' first regular two-way player in decades.

While he has been a solid designated hitter for the Angels, Ohtani pitched in only 10 games during his AL Rookie of the Year campaign before requiring Tommy John surgery in late 2018, and he didn't make it through the second inning in either of his starts after returning to the mound this season.

Ohtani appeared to be near full strength heading into this virus-shortened campaign after months of diligent rehabilitation, but his first two pitching performances were dismaying, even if an injury casts them in a softer light. Ohtani has walked eight of the 16 batters he has faced while getting just five outs and giving up seven runs.