As he gets set to start the game as a two-way player, here are three ways Shohei Ohtani can make history on Sunday night.
Shohei Ohtani will make his 13th career pitching appearance on Sunday night against the Chicago White Sox. He’ll also be in the lineup as a hitter, hitting second in the Angels lineup, becoming just the third pitcher to hit for himself with the DH available since 1976. And Ohtani will be the first in that span to do so without a lineup card error or it being an interleague game.
The Angels expected to see a new version of Ohtani in 2021, further removed from Tommy John surgery and as he changed his diet and workout regimen during the offseason. Still, the idea he’d be a two-way player on a day he started on the mound felt far off.
On Saturday, the Angels’ general plan for Ohtani to not be in the lineup on the day before he pitches went away. He usually gets a day off the day right after his outings too, but depending on how he feels after pitching Sunday night he may be in the lineup Monday. The fact he is strictly a DH is helpful in terms of rest and recovery.
Shohei Ohtani can make some history on Sunday night
The first piece of history Ohtani can make on Sunday night is an easy one. Barring a late change that doesn’t seem likely, he’ll hit and pitch in the same game for the first time in his MLB career.
Ohtani hit his 48th career home run on Friday night, tying him with Kenji Johjima for the third-most all-time in the Majors by a Japanese-born player. With a home run Sunday night, Ohtani will be by himself trailing only Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki.
Shohei Ohtani hits his 48th career home run for #Angels and ties Kenji Johjima for third-most all-time by a Japanese-born player in the Majors.
He now only trails Hideki Matsui (175) and Ichiro Suzuki (117).
— Matt Birch (@MattBirch12) April 3, 2021
Since at least 1901, only two players have started a game as a pitcher and batted second without playing another position. Ohtani is going to become the third, since he does not play another position and if leaves the game as a pitcher he won’t be moving to, as an example, right field.
Only 2 players since at least 1901 have started a game as pitcher and batting 2nd, without playing another position:
1903 Jack Dunleavy
1902 Watty Lee
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) April 4, 2021
So as Ohtani takes the mound Sunday night and is the second Angel to step into the batter’s box, he can make some interesting history. Some that we know about already, and perhaps some that will be revealed over the course of the game.