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Ohtani's mound debut to make history

Two-way phenom to join Ruth with feat unseen since 1919
MLB.com @mi_guardado

OAKLAND -- Earlier this week, Angels manager Mike Scioscia joked that Shohei Ohtani was almost like two players.

"Shohei the hitter and Shohei the pitcher," Scioscia said. "Why don't we give him two numbers?"

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OAKLAND -- Earlier this week, Angels manager Mike Scioscia joked that Shohei Ohtani was almost like two players.

"Shohei the hitter and Shohei the pitcher," Scioscia said. "Why don't we give him two numbers?"

View Full Game Coverage

After making his Major League debut on Opening Day and going 1-for-5 as the Angels' designated hitter, Ohtani will get his first start on the mound in Sunday's series finale against the A's at the Coliseum. MLB Network and MLB.TV will carry the game, and first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PT/4:05 p.m. ET.

Ohtani's two-way endeavor will carry historical significance, as the 23-year-old Japanese phenom will become the first Major League player to start as a non-pitcher on Opening Day and then start as a pitcher within his team's first 10 games since Babe Ruth with the Red Sox in 1919.

"At this time I am not that nervous, but I'm not sure how I'll be feeling after [Saturday's] game," Ohtani said.

Ohtani, who signed with the Angels in December after spending five seasons with the Nippon-Ham Fighters of Japan's Pacific League, will start opposite A's right-hander Daniel Gossett. None of the A's hitters have faced Ohtani, creating some intrigue ahead of Sunday's matchup.

"There's a lot of curiosity all the way around -- how they're going to use him, are they going to DH him, are they going to pinch-hit him?" A's manager Bob Melvin said. "But then the pitching dynamic, certainly there's not a ton to go on. Our reports from Japan are he can be upwards of 100 mph, good split and knows what he's doing. So we'll get a first-hand look at it tomorrow, but usually you have a little better idea going to the plate what you're going to see. In this case, maybe not so much."

Ohtani, a right-handed pitcher, struggled to find his footing during Spring Training, allowing 17 earned runs on 20 hits over 13 innings in five outings, including a pair of "B" games and a start in an intrasquad scrimmage, though he admitted that he was still adjusting to the slicker balls and the mounds, which feature harder dirt than those in Japan. Ohtani showed only flashes of the dominance he enjoyed in Japan, where he logged a 2.52 ERA with 624 strikeouts over 543 innings in 85 career games with the Fighters.

"I don't know if you get a sense of how hard he's worked to get acclimated to baseball in the United States," Scioscia said. "I think he's done a great job. We feel he's ready."

Approximately 100 Japanese media members were on hand for Ohtani's Major League debut on Thursday, and he is expected to draw a similar crowd on Sunday. Ohtani's start will also be broadcast live in Japan, where first pitch will take place at 5:05 a.m. on Monday.

"It's better to have attention than not have attention," Ohtani said. "But what I have to do doesn't change. I would like to continue what I had been doing in Arizona. I'm not thinking about it in particular, but I just would like to continue what I have been doing."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.