These rivals have nothing but praise for Ohtani

May 8th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Rhett Bollinger's Angels Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Any concerns about Shohei Ohtani’s health were put to rest with his incredible performance against the Red Sox on Thursday at Fenway Park.

Ohtani left Sunday’s game with right groin tightness and was held out of the Angels lineup on Monday, but proved he was just fine by turning in one of the best outings of his career in Boston. The two-way star struck out 11 over seven scoreless innings and induced a career-high 29 swings and misses. And he went 2-for-4 at the plate with two singles that hit off the wall, including one that knocked his own number off the manual scoreboard in left field.

“I hope we don’t start taking that for granted, like it’s old hat,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s just so unusual, it’s otherworldly. I just hope that people understand how unusual it is what you’re seeing, and please never take it for granted.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora was still in awe of Ohtani’s performance on Friday when talking to Boston media. Ohtani had his velocity working with his fastball reaching as high as 100.3 mph and he complemented it with an assortment of sliders, splitters and curveballs. Of his 99 pitches, 81 were strikes.

“I know we don’t get mulligans in this game, but give the guys a mulligan,” Cora said about his team. “I watched it again and it’s unreal what that guy did. Stuff-wise, it was probably the best I’ve seen against us since 2018. Let’s wash that one, if you guys let me. He was better than the no-hitter in Oakland [by Sean Manaea]. He was throwing 100 with a sweeping slider, with a curveball, with conviction.”

Veteran lefty Rich Hill, who started opposite Ohtani, also had high praise for last year’s American League MVP.

“He’s the best player in the league,” Hill said. “I think that’s one thing everybody can pretty much unanimously agree upon. It’s pretty special to see somebody like that come along. I think everybody should be really appreciating what we’re seeing, because it’s something we haven’t seen in 100 years and we may never see it again for another 100 years.”