Ohtani again taking two-way talents to All-Star Game

Already in AL lineup with Trout, superstar earns honor as a pitcher, too

July 3rd, 2023

ANAHEIM -- It was incredible when made history in 2021, when he was elected as an All-Star as both a starting pitcher and a designated hitter. Now it’s becoming routine for the two-way superstar.

Ohtani was named an All-Star as both a pitcher and a DH for a third straight season, as announced on Sunday on ESPN. Ohtani already had been named the starting DH on June 22 after being the leading vote-getter in Phase 1 of the balloting. He learned on Sunday that the players had voted him in as a pitcher, as well.

And he celebrated by hitting his Major League-leading 31st homer of the season in a 5-2 victory over the D-backs that went a Statcast-projected 454 feet, into a tunnel in right field at Angel Stadium.

Ohtani is set to join his teammate  in the All-Star Game on July 11 at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park. Trout was selected to his 11th All-Star Game on Thursday and his 10th straight as a starting outfielder. No other Angels were named All-Stars on Sunday.

“I’m proud of him,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said of Ohtani. “He’s worked hard. He had some ups and downs on the mound this year. But he’s certainly been stable for us in the rotation. It’s obviously quite the honor. He was voted in as the DH and deservedly so. And to get in as a pitcher, too, it’s really cool. It’s a great honor.”

Ohtani, the AL MVP in 2021 and the runner-up last year, is having another MVP-caliber season and was a worthy All-Star at both positions. Ohtani, who turns 29 on Wednesday, has a slash line of .306/.390/.670 with 31 homers, 15 doubles, five triples, 11 stolen bases and 68 RBIs in 84 games. And in 16 starts on the mound, he is 7-3 with a 3.02 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 95 1/3 innings.

Ohtani leads the Majors in homers, total bases (217), extra-base hits (51), slugging percentage and OPS (1.060). As a pitcher, he was first in opponent batting average against (.180) and third in strikeouts. He’s also heading into the All-Star Game with 30 homers for the second time in his career, as he had 33 before the 2021 Midsummer Classic. He was boosted by an incredible June that saw him hit 15 homers.

“I’m honored,” Ohtani said in a statement released by the Angels. “And I’ll give it my best in appreciation for those who selected me.”

Ohtani is scheduled to make his final start as a pitcher before the All-Star break on Tuesday in San Diego. That start was pushed back a day for precautionary reasons after he left his last outing with a cracked fingernail on his right middle finger. But he allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings with 10 strikeouts against the White Sox that outing -- and also hit two homers.

It’s unclear whether Ohtani will pitch in the All-Star Game, but given that he’s also the starting designated hitter, it’s tough for him to pitch unless he’s the starting pitcher because he needs time to get warmed up and ready.

Ohtani said after his last start that he hadn’t decided whether he’ll participate in the Home Run Derby, although Nevin made it sound like Ohtani will decline. Ohtani last was in the Derby in 2021, when he hit 28 homers in the first round at Coors Field but lost to Juan Soto in a swing-off.

Nevin also said it’ll be up to Ohtani on whether he wants to pitch. But he is slated to start the club’s first game after the All-Star break, against the Astros on July 14.

"It's up to him," Nevin said. "Just as I said with the WBC, it's a special moment. So if it's something he wants to do, I'm not going to tell him no. You only get so many of these. But as far as what I want. I think he's already said no to the Derby. That's one I think takes a lot out of guys. But whether he does it or not, I fully support him."