Shohei Ohtani to Make Angels Cactus League Debut vs. Brewers as Pitcher

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2018

Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani, left, smiles at coach Mike Scioscia during a spring training baseball practice on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

Los Angeles Angels dual-threat sensation Shohei Ohtani is expected to make his first Spring Training start as a pitcher Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group passed along the update Thursday from Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who also noted Ohtani won't be part of the lineup the day after he pitches, leaving Monday's game with the San Diego Padres as his first potential hitting appearance.

Scioscia made it clear earlier in the month the Angels are going to utilize the 23-year-old MLB rookie as a starting pitcher first and foremost. How he handles the workload on the mound as part of the club's six-man rotation will then determine his opportunities as a designated hitter.

"He's going to get the most looks as a pitcher," the L.A. skipper told reporters. "If he can pitch to his capabilities, that will always influence your team more than what he would do hitting. But that's not to say he won't have a chance to be a difference-maker on the offensive end, too."

Ohtani compiled a 2.52 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with 624 strikeouts in 543 innings across 85 games (82 starts) with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan over the past five years.

The three-time Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star selection added a .286/.358/.500 triple-slash line with 48 home runs in 403 appearances as a hitter.

He's drawn comparisons to Babe Ruth due to his potential wide-ranging impact, but he downplayed that line of thinking during his introductory press conference in December, per Maria Guardado of MLB.com.

"I'm honored to be compared to Babe Ruth, but in no way do I think I'm at his level," Ohtani said. "I think today actually is the real starting point for me, and I just want to get as close to him as possible."

Shortly after his signing, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported a physical showed a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in the rising star's pitching elbow. That hasn't affected his preparations for the 2018 season, though.

 

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