Shohei Ohtani’s prowess at both the plate and on the mound makes him unique in the majors, but the Los Angeles Angels’ two-way player will do something Sunday against the Chicago White Sox that even he hasn’t accomplished.
For the first time in his major league career, Ohtani will hit in the lineup in the same game he pitches. Unlike pitchers in the National League who bat ninth, Ohtani will bat second in the order.
With the Angels since 2018, Ohtani has not batted in games he pitched, and he also wouldn’t play in games the day before he pitched. But he was in the lineup Saturday against the White Sox, going 1-for-4.
Playing for manager Mike Scioscia in 2018 and ’19, Ohtani likely had little say in how he would be used in such situations. But current manager Joe Maddon is letting Ohtani assess and decide for himself.
“To me, it’s up to him,” Maddon said. “When I spoke with him in the preseason in Arizona, he was very precise in regards to what he wants, when he thinks he’s going to want to do it and when he’s not. And a big part of that is just how well rested he feels.
“I think maybe being that it’s the early part of this season, he feels pretty well rested. Every time he goes through the rotation, we will communicate to try to figure out what he needs in regards to rest, and then we’ll make our schedule accordingly.”
Ohtani often batted and pitched in the same game while in Japan, so it isn’t new to him. In fact, he says, it makes him better.
“One of the reasons why is because if I can help my own cause and score some runs for myself, it’s going to lead to confidence,” Ohtani said. “I’ll be able to attack the hitters more and be less passive.”
Ohtani went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA in 10 starts in 2018, but elbow surgery has limited him to just 1 2/3 innings in two games in the past two seasons, both appearances coming last year.
Ohtani is healthy now, but he was not sharp in the spring, putting up a 12.19 ERA in 10 1/3 innings. He has never faced the White Sox.
Yermin Mercedes is expected to get his third start in a row as the White Sox DH after not playing on Opening Day. Mercedes had five hits in Friday’s game, then homered, singled and doubled in his first three at-bats on Saturday. He flied out in his fourth at-bat.
Mercedes, 28, played in 617 minor league games before getting one major league at-bat last season. Friday was his first major league start, getting the five hits.
“I just want to cry every time when I see I’m in the majors right now,” Mercedes said. “I just want to cry because it’s a long time. I’ve got a big history.
“It’s about time, but it’s hard for me because just looking around, I’m like, ‘It’s real. I’m here.'”
Right-hander Dylan Cease, who was 5-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 12 starts last season, will be on the mound for the White Sox. He is 0-1 with a 6.48 ERA in two career starts against the Angels.
–Field Level Media