Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani will have the opportunity to hit and pitch in the 2021 MLB All-Star Game.
The 27-year-old became the first player in history to be voted into the Midsummer Classic as a position player and pitcher. Angels manager Joe Maddon confirmed Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash is planning to use him in both roles.
"The conclusion is that he will pitch, but how it's going to happen has not been concluded," Maddon told reporters. "There's different ways to do it, obviously. He could start the game or come in game-in-progress. And how often do you hit him? And don't forget he'll be in the Home Run Derby the day before. There's a lot going on there. But Shohei is into it. It's not like we're trying to push him into doing anything. We're just trying to figure out the best way to do it."
The Angels skipper alluded to how making that a reality might be a little tricky, though.
Ohtani was voted in as the designated hitter for the American League's starting lineup. That presents a straightforward scenario in which he's also the starting pitcher. In the event Cash brings him out of the bullpen, things become more complicated.
The problem with an unprecedented situation is that MLB doesn't have any rules on the book to address it. The league hasn't faced a scenario in which an offensive player would exit the All-Star Game and then re-enter as a pitcher.
MLB famously stuck rigidly to the rules in 2002—when both leagues ran out of pitchers—and ended the All-Star Game in a tie.
But there wouldn't be much harm in allowing Ohtani to make a quick departure, warm up in the bullpen and take the mound.
The All-Star Game has resumed being a pure exhibition since MLB removed the stipulation that the outcome would determine which league had home-field advantage in the World Series. And it's not as if this is likely to become an issue in future All-Star Games since Ohtani is such an anomaly.
The fans will understandably want to see the Japanese slugger pitch and hit and will wind up disappointed if it doesn't happen.