Angels ace Ohtani departs mound early with arm fatigue

<a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Shohei Ohtani;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Shohei Ohtani</a> of the <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Los Angeles Angels;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Los Angeles Angels</a> leaves the game against the <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Cincinnati Reds;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Cincinnati Reds</a> in the second inning because of arm fatigue (RONALD MARTINEZ)
Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels leaves the game against the Cincinnati Reds in the second inning because of arm fatigue (RONALD MARTINEZ)

Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani hit his Major League Baseball-leading 44th home run of the season on Wednesday but departed the pitching mound in the second inning with what the club said was arm fatigue.

The Japanese sensation had skipped his last scheduled pitching start with arm fatigue and was pitching for the first time since August 9.

After throwing a 94.2 mph (151.6 Km/h) fastball to Cincinnati's Christian Encarnacion-Strand with one out and a runner on first in the second inning, Ohtani motioned to the dugout.

Manager Phil Nevin visited the mound and Ohtani exited the game.

Ohtani's velocity had been down, with his fastball averaging 93.1 mph compared to his season average of 96.9.

He had retired the first three batters he faced in the first inning and issued a walk to Spencer Steer to lead off the second.

Ohtani had certainly seemed fine in his first time at bat, belting a two-run homer off Reds lefthander Andrew Abbott. He is now two home runs shy of his personal best 46, recorded in his Most Valuable Player season in 2021.

After Ohtani left the mound, rookie Nolan Schanuel pinch-hit for him in the third inning.

The 29-year-old is MLB's first regular top batter and pitcher since Babe Ruth more than a century ago.

He's a strong contender to add another American League MVP crown to the one he earned in 2021.

Ohtani was seen as a trade target at the transfer deadline but the Angels announced they were keeping him into the final months of his contract in hopes of making a run at a playoff berth.

The Angels have not reached the MLB playoffs since 2014 and haven't won a playoff series since 2009.