By Garrett Pelto
Shohei Ohtani is reportedly making the Angels’ roster even after having a rather mediocre spring training. Not only is he making the roster, but he is “tentatively scheduled” to pitch the third game of the season and DH in the opening season.
For those of you who haven’t heard of the “Babe Ruth of Japan”, this 23 year old ballplayer is trying to pitch and hit like a normal position player. To make him even more versatile, he can swing left-handed or right-handed.
People have been eager to see him step on the diamond with other MLB players.
While Ohtani may be a special player that baseball media is suffocating, he hasn’t been playing spectacular in spring training. Ohtani has only hit three singles in 28 at-bats and allowed 15 earned runs in 18 hits in 8 1/3 innings. The buzz that once swarmed him entering the states is starting to die with baseball executives across the league.
I say, screw that!
This is like Mr. Baseball, but reverse. Ohtani can barely speak a lick of English, but the kid has a natural ability to play baseball. While he is 23 and not ending his career in another country like Tom Selleck, Ohtani draws massive attention trying to play in the MLB.
In Bob Nightengale’s article on Ohtani making the Angels’ roster, pitching coach Charles Nagy was quoted saying “[Ohtani is] healthy, the ball is coming out of his hand just fine, and he hasn’t missed a turn. Look, I never had the best spring training either. I had my ass handed to me a lot. But I knew I’d be ready when the season starts, just like Shohei will.’’
In the spirit of what Charles Nagy believes, Ohtani has a lot of work to do, but so do most players in spring training. He’s got a lot of eyes on him and he’s in a different environment where he needs a translator to fully express his thoughts, so I don’t blame him for less than impressive play.
If Ohtani started off strong striking out everyone batter and hitting homers, I’d be astonished.
Bryce Harper entered the league at 19 years old and won his first MVP when he was 22. Justin Verlander entered the league and won Rookie of the Year at 23 years old. Won his first MVP when he was 28.
Ohtani, we know you just got here like seven weeks ago, don’t know what people are saying to you in English, trying to understand American culture, trying to impress coaches and the media, AND trying to enjoy your life as a 23 year old…. but do you think you can hit like Harper and pitch like Verlander at the same time too? Thanks.
Give the kid a break. I believe with more time in America and playing with MLB teammates like Mike Trout, Ohtani will become a solid baseball player. I don’t know if he can match up to other Japanese-crossover players like Ichiro Suzuki, but he has the positive mindset to make it in the big league.
And he’s got the first step. Make the roster
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