Japan's Ohtani adds pitcher role to his historic MLB All-Star debut

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 05 2021 10:16 AM | Updated as of Jul 05 2021 11:13 AM

Japan's Ohtani adds pitcher role to his historic MLB All-Star debut 1
Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) reacts after hitting a solo home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the third inning at Angel Stadium. Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

LOS ANGELES -- Two-way player Shohei Ohtani became the first player in Major League Baseball history on Sunday to be selected to the All-Star game as both a position player and pitcher.

The Japanese sensation, who leads MLB in home runs with 30, was chosen as a starting pitcher for the American League team, receiving 121 votes in balloting by players, coaches and managers.

Ohtani had already been selected in fan voting as a designated hitter for the AL squad and is entered in the Home Run Derby on All-Star weekend.

"The guy's going to participate in Home Run Derby, pitch in the game and hit in the game. That doesn't happen, like, ever," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "Even the non-baseball fan can really latch onto this and become interested."

Ohtani has drawn comparisons for his two-way play to the legendary American Babe Ruth, who retired in 1935 after 22 seasons. 

Ruth, nicknamed the 'Sultan of Swat', ended his career with 714 home runs and 10 World Series titles. But Ruth didn't pitch much after the 1919 season and the All-Star game didn't come into being until 1933.

Heading into Sunday, Ohtani had a .278 batting average and 66 RBI along with a 3-1 record and a 3.60 ERA in 12 starts on the mound to go with 83 strikeouts in 60 innings.

He will join fellow starting pitchers Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees, and Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodon of the Chicago White Sox in the All-Star game July 13 at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado.

Maddon said earlier in the week that he expects Ohtani to pitch at least one inning in the mid-season showcase.

"Of course, he'd only pitch one inning, and he'd maybe get one at-bat," Maddon said. "Let him hit and pitch. People want to see that."

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