Is that ... Shohei Ohtani? In left field?

April 25th, 2021

We’ve seen Angels two-way phenom seemingly do it all during his brief MLB career. We’ve seen him hit triple digits on the radar gun. We’ve seen him hit 450-foot home runs. We even saw him do both in the same game -- just minutes apart from each other.

But to this point, we hadn’t seen Ohtani play a defensive position other than pitcher while in the big leagues.

That moment finally came on Saturday in a blowout 16-2 loss to the Astros. After Angels reliever Ben Rowen was taken out of the game in the eighth inning, left fielder Anthony Bemboom took the mound.

Without any other position player on the bench aside from Mike Trout, who was absent from the lineup, Angels manager Joe Maddon called on designated hitter Ohtani -- who homered in the third inning -- to play left field.

Despite Ohtani taking to left field while using teammate Justin Upton’s glove, Maddon said that the defensive move was not a sign of things to come.

“That was an emergency [move], but I can see him anywhere on the field,” Maddon said. “The guy is such a great athlete. That was out of necessity today, but that's not part of the plans, but I'm telling you he could do it.”

With the Angels down big in the late innings against Houston, Maddon said he had other plans for who would take over in left field as he looked to get Rowen out of the game after he threw 2 1/3 innings.  

Maddon didn’t have to move too many puzzle pieces around because it was Ohtani who came to his skipper with the idea.

“Actually [Ohtani] brought it up because I was gonna do a couple different things and he said he felt very good about going into left field, so that made the move very easy.”

It marked the first time Ohtani had played a defensive position in an MLB game and the first time he had done so since 2014, when he played in Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan.