While it did not result in a win, Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani had his most complete game of Spring Training. Prior to the game, it was revealed that he would be pitching and hitting leadoff in an “experiment” from manager Joe Maddon.
The experiment paid off in a big way. Ohtani was excellent on the mound, pitching four innings and striking out five batters while allowing two hits, two walks, and one earned run. At the plate, Ohtani may have been even better. In three plate appearances, he went 2-for-2 with two singles and a walk.
It’s safe to say that it was a successful outing for the former Rookie of the Year who has struggled with injuries since a remarkable 2018 campaign.
When asked if he would like to continue batting and pitching in the same game, Ohtani was fully on board, saying that getting run support for himself will improve his confidence, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
Ohtani: "Yes I would love to do this during the season. If I could get run support for myself, that will give me extra confidence on the mound to be more aggressive."
Ohtani also ensured fans and the Angels organization that he will show what he’s capable of during the 2021 season:
"I'm very excited to show what I can do. That’s why I came here back in 2018. I'm sure I disappointed a lot of people the last two years by being hurt. I am looking forward to showing everyone what I'm capable of."
In his fourth MLB season, Ohtani seems ready to take the next step to being one of the best players in the game. With his skillset, he’s undoubtedly capable of reaching those heights.
While he likely will not be the designated hitter every single time he pitches, it seems like Maddon and the Angels want to try it a few times to see what it looks like. If Ohtani continues to play this well when he gets the opportunity, there’s no reason it can’t become a regular occurrence.
Ohtani optimistic about current performance
After his second Spring Training start, Ohtani was optimistic about what he saw despite an imperfect performance. He said that while his control isn’t where he would like it to be yet, he’s encouraged by what he’s seen from himself. Perhaps that confidence will contribute towards a breakout season.