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Shohei Ohtani will skip his next scheduled start

The decision was an unpopular one. But if the Angels were interested only in being popular, they'd pitch Shohei Ohtani every game.

Instead, team officials — citing longer-term objectives — decided to push back the rookie's next start on the mound, meaning he won't face fellow countryman Masahiro Tanaka at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.

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The matchup had been highly anticipated, particularly because the Yankees during the offseason were very open about their desire to sign Ohtani.

As it is, the two players still could meet more directly, with Ohtani potentially starting as the Angels' designated hitter Sunday.

The decision to delay his next pitching appearance was made this week in the interest of what manager Mike Scioscia called "workload management." The Angels haven't decided when Ohtani's next start will come.

"I have the utmost respect for what pitchers do," general manager Billy Eppler said Thursday. "They are the most tired people when the game is over. When you make 90, 95, 100, 105, 110, 115, 120 explosions, that is a lot, in my opinion.

"Then you add on cage work, BP [batting practice] work, games and so on and so forth, there's a lot on this particular individual's plate. We're just trying to be mindful of that and understand where we are in the calendar. Simple as that."

Ohtani has made seven starts and pitched 40 1/3 innings in his first season in the United States. The Angels, until this move, had kept him on a schedule of pitching once a week.

"My body feels fine," Ohtani said Thursday through an interpreter. "I'm guessing it's because I threw 110 pitches [in his previous start]. They're trying to take it easy on me."

Because of an ankle injury, Ohtani was limited to 25 1/3 innings a year ago. In his previous three seasons with the Nippon Ham Fighters, he pitched 140 to 160 2/3 innings, making 20 to 24 starts.

"If you look at his workload management in the past," Scioscia said, "this is very much in line with that."

Scioscia said Ohtani is fine physically and will be available to bat. He played catch in the outfield before the Angels' game Wednesday against Toronto, then served as the designated hitter.

Ohtani and Tanaka also didn't face each other in April when the Yankees visited Angel Stadium because Ohtani was out with a sprained ankle.

"I'm not so disappointed because I have a pretty good chance of facing him as a hitter," Ohtani said. "Down the road, I'll probably have a chance to face him as a pitcher also."

There was similar anticipation early this month for Ohtani and Ichiro Suzuki to play against each other in Seattle. That didn't happen because Suzuki was removed from the Mariners' active roster the day before the series opened.

Garrett Richards will start in Ohtani's place Sunday.

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UPDATES:

1:15 p.m.: This article was updated with comment from Shohei Ohtani.

This article was originally published at 9:40 a.m.

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