DENVER — Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels’ transcendent two-way star, will start on the mound and bat leadoff for the American League All-Stars in Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game from Coors Field, a fitting tribute to his nearly unprecedented first-half performance.
Ohtani, who will oppose Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals, was voted by the fans as the starting designated hitter and was voted by the players as one of five starting pitchers. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash, who will steer the AL group, said he “took that to heart” in making the decision to start Ohtani.
“This is what the fans wanna see,” Cash said. “It’s personally what I wanna see.”
Ohtani, the only player selected to both pitch and hit in an All-Star Game, will also headline the Home Run Derby lineup on Monday night. Cash said he “begged” Major League Baseball to tweak a longstanding rule and basically list Ohtani as both a pitcher and a DH for Tuesday’s lineup, which would allow Cash to insert a new DH when Ohtani comes out of the game rather than continually use a pinch-hitter as Ohtani’s spot in the lineup comes back around.
“I was not expecting to be chosen as a pitcher at all,” Ohtani said through his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, who will also serve as his catcher for the Home Run Derby. “It’s a huge honor.”
Ohtani is the second Japanese player to start an All-Star Game, joining Hideo Nomo, who represented the Los Angeles Dodgers while starting for the National League in 1995. As a hitter, Ohtani is batting .279/.364/.698 with four triples, 12 stolen bases and a major league-leading 33 home runs, already a single-season record for a Japanese-born player. As a pitcher, he boasts a 3.49 ERA with 87 strikeouts and 35 walks in 67 innings.
Xander Bogaerts, Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge, Boston’s Rafael Devers at third, Toronto second baseman Marcus Semien, Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez, Blue Jays left fielder Teoscar Hernandez and Baltimore center fielder Cedric Mullins.
Roberts’ NL lineup features San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. leading off, followed by the Dodgers’ Max Muncy at designated hitter, St. Louis third baseman Nolan Arenado, Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman, Cincinnati right fielder Nick Castellanos, Reds left fielder Jesse Winker, Philadelphia catcher J.T. Realmuto and Pittsburgh second baseman Adam Frazier.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.