VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – History will be made at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game Tuesday night in Colorado, when Shohei Ohtani will become the first player to ever be starting pitcher and bat leadoff in the Midsummer Classic.
The Japanese-born sensation has taken the baseball world by storm. The 27-year-old is enjoying a break-out campaign in his fourth MLB season with the Los Angeles Angels, leading the league in home runs, while also dominating on the mound.
New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge says its been a lot of fun to watch it up close.
“He’s a once-in-a-lifetime talent. Being able to do what he does on the mound, throwing the upper 90s, great feel for all his pitches. He pitches deep in the games, and then to come up and hit three homers — I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
His impressive performance also has players like St. Louis Cardinals slugger Nolan Arenado drawing comparisons to another duel threat from over 100 years ago.
“It’s next-level stuff. I mean, we thought we would never see a guy like Babe Ruth again and I guess we got our own, as far as Ohtani, in a way,” he said.
When he takes to the rubber, Ohtani will become just the second Japanese and third Asian pitcher to start an All Star game.
Shohei Ohtani didn’t win the #HRDerby, but he was the centre of attention to kick off a historic all-star week for the Angels star.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 13, 2021
In a span of roughly 24 hours, Ohtani will have competed in the home run derby, batted leadoff for the American League as the designated hitter, and then taken the mound for them as the starting pitcher.
Ohtani was elected by fans to the all-star game as a player, and voted in by his peers as a pitcher.
“I’m expecting to be pretty fatigued and exhausted after these two days, but there’s a lot of people that want to watch it and I want to make those guys happy,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “That’s why I’m going to do it.”
He said he wasn’t expecting to be selected to the game as a pitcher, let alone named the starter, while the Midsummer Classic’s rules were amended so that he could be treated as separate players in each of his two roles.
“This is what the fans want to see. It’s personally what I want to see. And to have the opportunity to do something with a generational talent, pretty special,” said Kevin Cash, the American League manager. “I begged Major League Baseball to tweak the rule for the all-star game, because if they didn’t, I know I’d screw it up the rest of the way, pulling pinch-hitters and DHs.”