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Ohtani, starting pitcher and All-Star leadoff hitter

Ohtani, starting pitcher and All-Star leadoff hitter

Shohei Ohtani will be the starting pitcher and hit first in the offensive order as the American League team’s designated All-Star Game, another milestone for the multi-functional Japanese player.

In his fourth major league season with the Los Angeles Angels, Ohtani will make history Tuesday as the first two-role starter in an All-Star Games, the midseason exhibition that began staging in 1933.

“I wasn’t expecting at all that they were going to draft me as a pitcher,” Ohtani said. “It is a great honor and I will try to do my best.”

The 27-year-old has been a baseball sensation for his exploits at the plate and the mound. He leads the majors with 33 home runs and is 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA in 13 starts.

“This is what the fans want to see,” said Kevin Cash, the manager of the American League and Tampa Bay.

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Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals will start the National League.

The AL starting lineup for the show at Coors Field was announced Monday.

Ohtani was chosen as the designated hitter through fan voting and made the pitching cast with the support of his peers. He is hitting .279 with 70 RBIs, just behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s 73 (Toronto) and Rafael Devers (Boston) 72.

On the mound, Ohtani has 87 strikeouts with 35 walks in 67 innings. His fastball averages 93.8 mph, essentially the same 93.7 mph speed when the ball is thrown when it makes contact with his bat, among the best in the majors.

No one has stood out as a pitcher and hitter since Babe Ruth, who last pitched regularly in 1919. Ohtani will also have action in the Home Run Derby on Monday night.

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Ohtani will be the second pitcher from Japan to start in an All-Star Game, emulating Hideo Nomo in 1995, and the third from Asia. South Korean Hyun Jin Ryu opened in 2019.

A rule change for this All-Star Game will allow Ohtani, scored as a designated, to be considered a two-role player, and will be able to hit when relieved as a pitcher.

“I begged the Major Leagues to change the rule,” Cash said.

Guerrero will be second in the lineup at first base for the American League, followed by Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts; Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge; Devers in the anteroom; Toronto second baseman Marcus Semien; Kansas City catcher Salvador Pérez; Blue Jays left fielder Teoscar Hernández; and Baltimore center fielder Cedric Mullins.

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Los Angeles Dodgers ‘National League manager Dave Roberts scored San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. as leadoff hitter, followed by Dodgers’ Max Muncy as designated hitter; San Luis third baseman Nolan Arenado; Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman; Cincinnati right fielder Nick Castellanos; Reds left fielder Jesse Winker; Philadelphia catcher JT Realmuto; and Pittsburgh second baseman Adam Frazier.

Scherzer will make his fourth All-Star start, tying Jim Palmer and Randy Johnson for the second-most in history, one of Robin Roberts, Lefty Gomez and Don Drysdale.

The All-Star Game returns this year after the 2020 event at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, which delayed the start of the campaign until July 23. (AP)

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