Ohtani to pull double duty in All-Star Game

July 6th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- A day after made history by becoming the first player to be selected to the All-Star Game as both a position player and a pitcher, manager Joe Maddon confirmed Monday that Ohtani will hit and pitch in the game on July 13 at Colorado’s Coors Field.

Maddon spoke with Rays skipper Kevin Cash, who is serving as the manager of the American League team, and said Cash plans to utilize Ohtani as a two-way player in the Midsummer Classic. Cash is just trying to figure out which inning Ohtani will pitch.

"The conclusion is that he will pitch, but how it's going to happen has not been concluded," Maddon said. "There's different ways to do it, obviously. He could start the game or come in game-in-progress. And how often do you hit him? And don't forget he'll be in the Home Run Derby the day before. There's a lot going on there. But Shohei is into it. It's not like we're trying to push him into doing anything. We're just trying to figure out the best way to do it."

The trick is having Ohtani find enough time to get ready for his outing on the mound. He could get through his normal routine and pitch early in the game, potentially start or get his at-bats as a designated hitter and then come out of the game to get ready for a relief appearance. But if Ohtani exits as the DH, the rules would have to be changed to allow him to re-enter as a pitcher.

The easiest solution would be for Ohtani to serve as the starting pitcher and also designated hitter, just like he’s done nine times in 12 starts this season. However, there are other deserving candidates to start, such as Carlos Rodón (White Sox), Kyle Gibson (Rangers) and Nathan Eovaldi (Red Sox).

Ohtani, though, doesn’t appear likely to hit for himself on Tuesday against the Red Sox, when he makes his last start on the mound before the All-Star break. Third baseman Anthony Rendon (left hamstring tightness) and outfielder Taylor Ward (jammed right index finger) were both out with injuries on Monday, and the Angels are likely to have a short bench again on Tuesday. The risk for the Angels is they lose the DH when Ohtani hits for himself, so they have to pinch-hit for him once he leaves the game as a pitcher.

“It’s going to be based on the bench,” Maddon said. “Today, we only have a catcher on the bench. So that makes it really problematic. We'll see how this plays out going into tomorrow. It's hard. It's very difficult to do that with one guy on the bench."

Ohtani is set to get help shortly after the break, as Mike Trout is eligible to return from the 60-day injured list on July 17. Trout took batting practice on the field before Monday’s game, his first since suffering a right calf strain on May 17. His next step will be progressing to running on the field, and once that happens, the Angels will have a better feel for his exact timeline. He’ll also need a rehab assignment before returning.

"There's a lot of torque in his swing, but I would have to believe running hard has to be the one thing he'll have to get through," Maddon said. "The turns, the cuts, the stop-starts. Things of that nature. But the leg is really progressing well, according to the doctor. Everything is going in the right direction. It's still going to be post-All-Star break."