Angels’ Matt Shoemaker feeling confident about return to rotation

Share via

A flurry of medical tests over the past two weeks has produced what Matt Shoemaker believes is a consensus among experts on the source of the nerve irritation in his forearm, one that has the Angels right-hander feeling much more confident about his return.

“Every doctor I’ve seen, and I’ve seen so many I couldn’t give you an accurate number, has said they think it’s scar tissue from the surgery I had [last August] and that it’s essentially irritating the nerve,” said Shoemaker, who went on the disabled list April 3.

“We’re doing really aggressive treatment to soften and break up that scar tissue to free the nerve. Knock on wood, it’s a very easy fix and it doesn’t happen again. The last four or five days, there’s been a drastic improvement in how my arm feels in that spot. It’s very encouraging.”


Shoemaker made only 14 starts last season before the surgery to fix a radial nerve compression in his forearm. He reported no problems through spring training but suffered a setback after his first regular-season start.

An April 9 electromyography and nerve conduction study failed to reveal the source of the irritation. Doctors tested Shoemaker’s arteries, veins and muscles “just to clear and check every box off,” he said.

“That first week and a half, I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ Every frustration you can think of, I had. In the last four or five days my positivity has improved greatly.”


Shoemaker said his pain level when he extends his forearm into a throwing position “has dropped 95 to 98% since the first week — it’s almost zero now.” There is still no timetable for his return, but Shoemaker is optimistic he will be able to begin a throwing program in the next week or two.

Getting Ohtani in a groove

The Angels plan to start Shohei Ohtani on six days’ rest for at least the foreseeable future, but the right-hander’s once-a-week pitching schedule, which was disrupted by Sunday’s postponement in Kansas City, is not set in stone.


“What’s going to be optimal for him is going to be a function of how he pitches, when we start to get some data on him, and how he rebounds,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “I think we’re all anticipating that at some point this year he won’t be [pitching every] seven days, but when that happens, it happens. Flexibility is the key.”

Ohtani started Tuesday against Boston on eight days’ rest and yielded a home run to the first batter he faced, Mookie Betts. He needed 28 pitches to finish the first inning and lasted just one more frame, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks, troubled by a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand.

On the farm

Top pitching prospect Griffin Canning, the former UCLA right-hander who was a second-round pick in the 2017 draft, was promoted to double-A Mobile this week after allowing no runs and four hits, striking out 12 and walking three in 8 2/3 innings of his first two starts for Class-A Inland Empire.

Taylor Ward’s transition from catcher to third base has been a little bumpy. The 2015 first-round pick out of Fresno State has committed four errors in his first 10 games at Mobile. On the plus side, Ward hit .457 (16 for 35) with one homer and nine RBIs in those games.

Short hops


David Price’s last pitch Tuesday was taken for a third strike by Albert Pujols, who slammed his helmet to the ground in protest of umpire Vic Carapazza’s call to end the fifth and earned his ninth career ejection. Pujols singled for career hit No. 2,989 in the third. … Right-hander JC Ramirez underwent reconstructive elbow surgery Tuesday and is expected to be out for 12 to 18 months. … According to STATS, Tuesday night’s game between the Angels (13-3) and Red Sox (13-2) was the first matchup of teams that were .800 or better 15 or more games into the season since 1966, when the 14-2 Cleveland Indians played the 13-3 Baltimore Orioles.