California Sports

LA Angels: Shohei Ohtani ready to play Opening Day on April 7 against Houston

Los Angeles Angels star player Shohei Ohtani will be able to play under two roles when Major League Baseball announced and applied the ‘Shohei Ohtani’ rule starting in the new 2022 season.

The new rule will allow Ohtani to remain in the lineup as DH following his exit as starting pitcher. Obviously, this is one of the things that the Angels and Ohtani can benefit from.

“That rule is going to be great,” Ohtani said to his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. “I can be aggressive both hitting and pitching-wise. I don’t have to really think about later on in the game. It’s a good thing.”

“It was my last start before the season opener and I’m glad I got to my pitch count.”

The Japanese international has also been warming up and preparing for the new season.

“Everything is going really smooth,” Ohtani added. “I’ll definitely throw a bullpen [before Opening Day], but the biggest thing is just getting my recovery and fatigue out of the way. I’ll try to play in as many games as possible in between, get some at-bats and try to balance that out.”

Ohtani and Angels

Ohtani will play in MLB’s Opening Day against the visiting Houston Astros on April 7. He will serve both ways, as a pitcher and DH. The 27-year-old was acquired by the Angels back in 2017. During his rookie year, Ohtani played in 114 games, hitting 326 at-bats, 59 runs, 93 hits, 22 home runs and averaged .285.

“My biggest job is to get on base,” Ohtani said.

With a four-season career with the Angels, Ohtani has played in a total of 424 games, hitting 1400 at-bats, 236 runs, 370 hits, 93 home runs, and averaged .264. Obviously, his years were spent increasing his performance as he grew to become one of the best players, receiving an All-Star and AL MVP rewards.

In addition, Ohtani was also the 2020 All-MLB First Team and Second Team awardee and received the award in 2021. In the same year, the pitcher also received the Silver Slugger Award and Edgar Martinez Awards. As a result, 2021 was a year of endless growth for “Shotime”.

Prior to his MLB career, he played for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters from 2013 to 2017. With Hokkaido, Ohtani won the 2016 Japan Series champion, Pacific League MVP, Designated Hitter Best Nine, and many more. From 2013 to 2017, the left-batter was NPB regular All-Star.

Angels manager Joe Maddon called Ohtani’s performance in 2021 excellent as he said, “It just tastes right, feels right, is right.”

Joe Maddon on Ohtani

Earlier last week, Maddon made an announcement and said that giving Ohtani his first major league Opening Day start was “the right thing to do.”

“He’s very excited about it,” Maddon said. “Typically, he handles things with very limited emotion. Of course, he’s happy about it. He’s earned the right to do that.”

The 68-year-old manager confirmed that Ohtani will play as the designated hitter and stay in the lineup after exiting the mound against the Astros, after MLB’s approval of the 2022 rule change.

“It was, ‘Well if I have to,’ something like that,” Maddon said of Ohtani’s reaction to the news. “He’s self-deprecating. He’s got that kind of sense of humor. He’s a good man.”

Meanwhile, fellow teammate, Max Stassi also thinks that having Ohtani on the team for Opening Day is something to look forward to.

“He picked up right where he left off,” Stassi said after Ohtani’s spring debut on “His stuff looked really refined. As good as last year, if not better.”

Los Angeles Angels

The Los Angeles Angels are an American professional baseball team based in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. (wikipedia)

Los Angeles Angels (PCL)

The Los Angeles Angels were a Minor League Baseball team based in Los Angeles that played in the “near-major league” Pacific Coast League from 1903 through 1957. The next year, (wikipedia)