ANAHEIM – The Red Sox are ready for the full Shohei Ohtani experience over the next three days, even arriving in time for his 27th birthday on Monday.
The two-way sensation has gripped MLB with his heroics all season, and the Red Sox already experienced the pain of how tough it is to get him out when Matt Barnes served up a go-ahead homer to the left-handed-hitting masher with two outs in the ninth at Fenway Park on May 16.
On Tuesday, Boston faces Ohtani the pitcher for the first time since 2018. That leaves Nathan Eovaldi with the challenge of matching zeros while also needing to make pitches to get him out at the plate.
“The most impressive thing, like I mentioned the other day, talking to Raffy [Devers] about it, it’s actually very hard to prepare to do both at this level,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “The workouts, I don’t know how that works, bullpens, the days in between starts and then you’ve got to prepare to hit. This is the best level in baseball. For him to be able to be successful doing both is amazing. I’m actually in awe with everything that he’s doing.”
Consider All-Star slugger J.D. Martinez among the most impressed by what Ohtani is doing.
“Babe Ruth? I mean, it’s crazy to have a player with that much talent be able to do both things. It’s kind of one of those things where I feel bad for Vladdy [Guerrero] Jr. in a way, because he’s having an unbelievable season this year and he’s kind of getting overshadowed by Ohtani. I mean, it’s just unreal."
At 53-32 entering Monday’s game, the Red Sox have handled just about every challenge that has come their way. Keeping Ohtani in check would be another notch on their belt.
“Listen, what he's done is incredible,” said Christian Arroyo. “It's obviously unparalleled. It's one of those things, you play against a guy like that, it's pretty special, obviously, for us. But he’s still an opponent.
“Ideally, I can't wait to see him do nothing in this series. That means our pitchers executed their pitches and that means we did damage off him [Tuesday]. From a competitive standpoint, it's always awesome to get to play against the best players in game.
“But I'd way rather go on my phone and scroll on Instagram and see MLB posting about him when he's playing against another team, not when he's playing against us. It's really special to watch. He's a heck of a player. It's hard to explain, because no one's really seen this before. Obviously there's the talks of Babe Ruth and stuff, but in this era, no one's ever seen it.”
The Red Sox will see it first-hand over the next couple of days.
“He’s been amazing. He’s hitting the ball out of the ballpark. He’s doing a lot of good things offensively,” said Cora. “Obviously, you better be careful, but at the same time, we believe we can attack and get him out. Just like when [Mike] Trout is playing -- you respect what he’s doing, but at the same time, you prepare to face the opposition, and we’ll try to get him out.”