MLB

'Special' two-way star Ohtani backed to keep entertaining for Angels

By Sports Desk April 05, 2021

Shohei Ohtani's big night ended with a worrying collision, but he will get more chances to show his talents as a two-way star for the Los Angeles Angels.

For the first time in his MLB career, Ohtani was the starting pitcher while also batting second.

Against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, the Japanese sensation rose to the occasion in a stunning show of his two-way abilities.

The first starting pitcher to bat second in a game since Jack Dunleavy in 1903, Ohtani produced a scoreless first inning as his fastball reached 100mph – a season high across the major leagues.

Then the 26-year-old picked up the bat and hit a crushing solo homer at the bottom of the inning, a projected 451-foot shot that reached 115.2mph. It was the hardest hit by an Angels player since 2015.

Ohtani now has three hits, four runs and two homers this season, although his sole remarkable hit on Sunday made him the first Angels pitcher to record one in an American League game since Clyde Wright in 1972.

The first four White Sox innings were scoreless as Ohtani's pitching prowess produced a three-pitch strikeout - one of seven total strikeouts - of Luis Robert with two runners stranded.

A staggering outing was dampened on his final play, however, as he was clattered into by Jose Abreu at home plate following some sloppy fielding that meant the pitcher finished with three runs, one earned.

But the felled player later assured he was "fine" and the collision "wasn't as bad as it looked", meaning the Angels could revel in his display after Jared Walsh's walk-off homer secured a 7-4 win.

"What he did tonight was pretty special and you're going to see a lot more of that," manager Joe Maddon said.

"It was fun to watch. I think everybody was entertained. That's what he signed up to do and you're going to see more of it."

The incident with Abreu in the fifth came after Ohtani was allowed to continue despite giving up a run on a hit and two walks, but Maddon did not regret that call.

"That's how a guy becomes a guy," he said. "You've got to give him that opportunity, especially this time of year.

"If he does that now and is able to fight through it, he will know what he's capable of. If you are constantly taking guys out of troubling situations, they are never going to find out.

"It's all interconnected. Everything we do is interconnected. He is a very introspective bright young man who loves to play baseball.

"Let's stay out of his way. Let him play baseball and see what happens."

Ohtani pitched and batted in his first year in the majors in 2018 but never in the same game.

"I'm glad I got this game under my belt," he said. "It will lead to more confidence.

"It's just one game. I'm going to take it one game at a time. I'm not out to prove the doubters wrong or anything."

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