‘Shohei Ohtani rule’ will allow Angels star to stay at DH after exiting as a pitcher

Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani works during a spring training game against the Kansas City Royals.
Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani works during a spring training game against the Royals on Monday in Tempe, Ariz.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)
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The adoption of the universal designated hitter will not take the bat out of Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani’s hands when he pitches this season.

Major League Baseball and the Players Assn. reached a tentative agreement on a series of rules changes Tuesday, including one that will primarily benefit the Angels and Ohtani, the reigning American League most valuable player.

The new “Shohei Ohtani rule,” as it is being called, would allow a player to start a game as both a pitcher and designated hitter and continue in his role as the DH when he is no longer pitching.


The rule changes, which include starting extra innings with a runner on second base for a third season, expanding active rosters from 26 players to 28 through May 1 and the return of nine-inning doubleheaders, are expected to be approved by baseball owners next week, according to the Associated Press.

Ohtani hit .257 with a .965 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 46 homers, 100 RBIs, 103 runs and 26 stolen bases and went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts on the mound last season.

The slugger hit as the pitcher in 20 of those starts, but when he exited the game as a pitcher, per National League rules, he had to either come out of the game or move to right field to remain in the game for one more at-bat, which he did seven times.

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But under the new rule, which will remain in effect for the entirety of the new five-year collective bargaining agreement, Ohtani will be able to remain in the game as DH no matter how long he lasts on the mound.

“Of course, we love it,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said on the telecast of a 7-4 Cactus League win Tuesday over Colorado. “There aren’t many pitchers who can do what he does, and I doubt it’s going to be utilized very often, but it’s great news for us.

“Say he has a bad outing. We can leave him in the game to hit. … The MVP, the one guy who can truly go both ways … it’s great for the fans to get that opportunity.”