Shohei ohtani He leads the American League designated hitters in All-Star fan votes by a wide margin. But the Los Angeles Angels two-way sensation is also putting together a spectacular season on the mound, creating the possibility that Ohtani will pitch and hit at Coors Field in Denver on July 13.
Angels manager Joe Maddon, who has set out to ease most of Ohtani’s previous restrictions, wouldn’t be against it.
“It depends on his day,” Maddon said Monday. “It’s just one inning, and I know if he’s able to do that, he would have no objections. His schedule has been excellent, the number of innings thrown, the number of pitches he has thrown I think he’s in very good order. I don’t see a dramatic spike between now and then. It would just be how you feel and what you think about it. I think that would be the way to determine that.
“The fact that he is such an unusual participant, I would definitely like to hear what he has to say about it.”
Ohtani (2-1), who has been consistently better at throwing strikes in recent weeks, has a 2.85 ERA with 68 strikeouts and 28 walks in 47⅓ innings in his first nine starts. He also entered Monday with a .961 OPS and 17 home runs, the latter tied for fifth in the majors.
Ohtani, 26, had amassed 526,608 votes on the first ballot update, nearly double the total for the Boston Red Sox designated hitter, JD Martinez (293,757). Ohtani’s teammate, Mike trout, easily led the AL outfielders with 706,503 votes despite not playing since May 17 due to a calf strain. Maddon said Trout is making good progress, but he still has “at least another month” to go back from the disabled list, and his return-to-field date of six to eight weeks still stands.
Trout is unlikely to return with the Angels until the second half of the season, making it “difficult” for him to appear in the All-Star Game, Maddon said. But Ohtani is on the way to do it. And given his prodigious power, Ohtani would also be an obvious candidate for the Home Run Derby, if workload isn’t a huge concern for a player already taking on such a heavy load.
“I’m not as against it as everyone else,” Maddon said of the Home Run Derby. “I just don’t like it when it gets endless. There has to be a finite method of doing this. It’s tiring, it can be tiring. But then again, that would be something I’d like to ask him how he feels about it. He’d be honest. I don’t think this is something you want to force him to do or not do. Just like we’ve been dealing with it all year, that would be a conversation. “