Shohei Ohtani will be the starting pitcher for the American League in All-Star game
Shohei Ohtani’s historic All-Star week will include another milestone, as the Angels’ two-way star will be the American League’s starting pitcher in the game Tuesday night at Coors Field.
Ohtani will also bat leadoff as the designated hitter. MLB tweaked the rules of the game so that Ohtani can remain in the game as a batter even after he comes off the mound.
Ohtani, who hit 28 home runs in his first-round loss in Monday’s home run derby, is the first player in MLB history to be selected to the All-Star game as both a hitter and pitcher. He is also the first Angels pitcher to start an All-Star game since Jered Weaver in 2011, and the second Japanese-born starting pitcher in the event after Hideo Nomo in 1995.
Even before Shohei Ohtani became the star of baseball this season, his teammates knew there was something special about him on and off the field.
“I was actually not expecting to be chosen as a pitcher at all,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “To be named the starter, I was really not expecting. It’s a huge honor.”
American League manager Kevin Cash joked that he “begged” the league to tweak the All-Star game rules so that Ohtani could be effectively treated as two separate players on the roster, meaning once his pitching start is done the AL team doesn’t have to sacrifice his designated hitter spot.
Cash also said he consulted with Angels manager Joe Maddon when deciding how to utilize Ohtani, who has never pitched in relief in his major league career.
“I think it made the most sense, rather than ask him to hit and then come in and pitch later in the game,” Cash said. “This is something he has done for his team in Anaheim, and I felt most comfortable that that’s the right way to treat it.”
Ohtani entered the All-Star break batting .271 with an MLB-leading 33 home runs and a 3.49 earned-run average with 87 strikeouts in 13 starts as a pitcher.
He acknowledged that he’ll probably be fatigued following this week’s activities, but added: “There’s a lot of people that want to watch it, and I wanted to make those guys happy.”
Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer was announced as the National League’s starting pitcher by NL manager and Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts. Scherzer has a 2.66 ERA in 17 starts this season.
Roberts explained he picked Scherzer because of his performance this season and career-long track record, but also because “he’s a former World Series champion in ‘19, and last year the Nationals didn’t get that opportunity” to celebrate at the pandemic-canceled All-Star game.
Said Roberts: “On every level for me it was a no-brainer.”
Something Scherzer doesn’t yet have this season is a hit. He laughed at a news conference Monday at the fact he is 0 for 30 at the plate while his All-Star game pitching counterpart has 33 home runs.
“To be able to shoulder both workloads and be able to hit as well,” Scherzer said of Ohtani, “that’s just absolutely incredible.”
Later in the news conference, both managers were asked if they ever believed Ohtani would be capable of having this kind of season.
“Well, we did,” Roberts said, laughing. “We wanted him. He didn’t pick us.”
Added Cash, the Tampa Bay Rays manager: “So did we.”
Scherzer then echoed the same thing, leaving Ohtani cracking up at the end of the stage.
Roberts continued: “To see something that hasn’t been done in generations — in my opinion, it’s the best talent ever in baseball. For him to be one of the marquee players, it’s remarkable.”
Shohei Ohtani’s two-way exploits will be among the highlights during the All-Star game and home run derby. Check out The Times’ complete coverage.
Go beyond the scoreboard
Get the latest on L.A.'s teams in the daily Sports Report newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.