The Los Angeles Angels originally had two representatives for Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game, Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. Since the two were voted in as American League starters, Trout has ruled himself out due to left ribcage inflammation, and was placed on the 10-day IL as well.
Now, it appears that fans at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday evening may not get the full Ohtani experience either. Ohtani was not only voted as the starting designated hitter, he was also selected to the All-Star team as a pitcher, as he’s having easily his best season on the mound of his career.
But given some time to reflect, Ohtani has decided he will not participate in the game as a pitcher, only as the designated hitter — batting leadoff — to focus on his upcoming start against the Atlanta Braves on Friday.
“I’m pitching the first game out of the All-Star break, so I’d only have two days in between,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “I obviously prioritize the season over the All-Star Game.”
The Angels are 6-0 since June 3 when Ohtani is the starting pitcher, meaning they desperately need him to be at full strength every time he’s on the mound. Setting the tone with a win against the defending World Series champions out of the All-Star Break could be huge for an Angels team in need of some rhythm.
Having Ohtani pitch is by far the best way to give the Angels a legitimate chance, even if it means sacrificing his ability to be a two-way player at the All-Star Game.
Ohtani making this decision also makes last year’s Midsummer Classic even more special. Ohtani was again the leadoff batter for the American League, but was also the starting pitcher. He tossed a shutout first frame before taking the plate to kick off the AL’s offense.
AL manager Dusty Baker — of the Houston Astros — is instead starting Tampa Bay Rays ace Shane McClanahan. While Ohtani may have been the bigger audience draw as a starter, McClanahan is unbelievably deserving, as he is currently the favorite for the AL Cy Young award. Meanwhile, Clayton Kershaw was announced as the National League starter.
Trout hopeful for second half turnaround
Despite a frustrating stretch of baseball for the Angels, Trout remains confident in what the team can do with some time off. While discussing his ribcage injury and the difficulties that come with it, he made sure to praise the team and show his belief in their ability to turn things around.