Ohtani to start and kick off MLB All-Star Game

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Shohei Ohtani will be the American League’s starting pitcher in Tuesday night’s all-star game and will also be the designated first hitter in another landmark for the two-way Japanese sensation.

At 27, in his fourth major league season with the Los Angeles Angels, Ohtani was the first two-way starter in All-Star Game history, which began in 1933.

“I actually didn’t expect to be chosen as a pitcher at all,” Ohtani said Monday through an interpreter. “It’s a huge honor and I’ll do my best.

Ohtani generated a huge buzz across baseball for his home base and mound exploits. He leads the majors with 33 homers and is 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA in 13 starts.

“This is what the fans want to see. This is what I personally wanted to see, ”said AL manager Kevin Cash of Tampa Bay.

Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals will be the National League starting pitcher in the game at Coors Field.

Ohtani was voted to start in DH by the fans and was elected to the AL pitching staff by the other players. He is .279 with 70 RBIs, behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (73) of Toronto and Rafael Devers (72) of Boston.

On the mound, Ohtani struck out 87 and walked 35 in 67 innings. His fastball averaged 93.8 mph, essentially the same as the 93.7 mph exit speed of the balls from his stick.

Ohtani is the most accomplished two-way player since Babe Ruth, who last pitched regularly in 1919. Fans were expected to see him in action from Monday night at the Home Run Derby.

Ohtani would become the second Japanese pitcher to start an All-Star game after Hideo Nomo in 1995 and the third Asian. Hyun Jin Ryu from South Korea started in 2019.

A rule change this year for the All-Star Game will allow Ohtani, listed as DH, to be treated as two individual players and to remain as a hitter when removed from his pitcher’s position.

“I begged Major League Baseball to change the rule,” Cash said.

Guerrero will strike second and play first for the AL, followed by Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts, New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge, Devers on third, Toronto second baseman. Marcus Semien, Kansas City wide receiver Salvador Pérez, Blue Jays left fielder Teoscar Hernández and Baltimore center fielder Cedric Mullins.

NL manager Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers leads San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., followed by Max Muncy of the Dodgers on designated hitter, St. Louis third baseman Nolan Arenado, Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman, Cincinnati right fielder Nick Castellanos, Reds outfielder Jesse Winker, Philadelphia wide receiver JT Realmuto and Pittsburgh second baseman Adam Frazier.

Traded to Colorado in the offseason, Arenado will likely remain a fan favorite at Coors Field.

Scherzer will make his fourth All-Star start, tying Jim Palmer and Randy Johnson for second behind five apiece by Robin Roberts, Lefty Gomez and Don Drysdale.

Scherzer started the 2013 All-Star Game for the AL with Detroit, and the 2017 and 2018 All-Star Games with Washington. Eight-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young Award winner, he’s 7-4 with a 2.66 ERA this season with 134 strikeouts and 22 walks in 98 innings.

The All-Star Game returns this year after the 2020 event was canceled at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles due to the coronavirus pandemic, which delayed opening day until July 23.

This year’s game was scheduled at Truist Park in Atlanta, but Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred Manfred announced on April 2 that the event would be moved due to Georgia’s new election law, which critics say will affect negatively communities of color.

Four days later, Manfred said this year’s game will be played at Coors Field, which hosted its only previous All-Star game in 1998.

Due to last year’s cancellation, Dodger Stadium will host the All-Stars in 2022 (AFP)


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