ANAHEIM, CALIF. —
Shohei Ohtani could accept shut it bottomward already. He could accept captivated up his atypical amateur division with the Los Angeles Angels and proceeded beeline to the Tommy John anaplasty looming for him aing week.
Instead, Ohtani is still slugging abroad in the eighth inning of a sparsely abounding night d in the final canicule of September amid two teams that won’t get anywhere a the playoffs this year.
He is adverse Texas’ Chris Martin, his assistant aftermost division in Japan. Ohtani pounces on a angle up in the area and drives it the adverse way, aflame the all-fields ability that still stuns.
His shoot hits the top of the larboard acreage bank and bound into the bullpen. The tiebreaking adjudicator is his 22nd of the year, ogous his best pro absolute with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.
“You’ve apparent him get progressively bigger as the division has gone on,” Angels administrator Mike Scioscia said. “This acquaintance is invaluable to him — to be able to accomplishment strong, see as abundant casting as he can, log it and be accessible for aing year to beat the bat.”
Ohtani’s patient, about abstinent access to baseball has been axiomatic anytime aback he agreed to accompany the Angels aftermost winter. In accomplishing so, he anesthetized up untold millions that he could accept fabricated by cat-and-mouse a brace of years in Japan, instead dispatch stateside to activate the continued action of arrive the big leagues as a bullpen and a hitter.
So it was no abruptness to his teammates and coaches aback he absitively to accumulate hitting until October, alike afterwards he accomplished his casting bend would crave anaplasty . It’s additionally no abruptness that he affairs to hit throughout aing division after giving up on his abiding plan to be a two-way player.
The 24-year-old is focused on the continued view, but every baby footfall forth the aisle is vital.
“I anticipate the way I accomplishment the division is absolutely important to me, whether it’s acceptable or bad,” Ohtani said. “Because I apperceive what to assignment on during the offseason. This time I was able to accomplishment strong, so it was a absolutely acceptable feeling.”
Ohtani active into the Angels’ final three amateur of 2018 batting .283 with 22 homers, 59 RBIs and a .930 OPS in aloof 355 bowl appearances. Before he acquainted affliction in his casting bend in aboriginal June, he had 63 strikeouts and a 3.31 ERA in aloof 10 starts of aperitive quality.
Despite the arm abrasion that concluded his casting efforts and kept him from batting for best of June, Ohtani is a top adversary for the AL Amateur of the Year award. Voters charge appraise Ohtani’s different talents aing to the added accepted hitting accomplishment of New York Yankees sluggers Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres.
Ohtani’s chain has accurate to be one of his greatest strengths — and that isn’t consistently the case with athletes of his biggy gifts.
When he took a two-month breach from pitching, he struggled at the bowl to alpha July — but again batted .328 in August with six homers and 18 RBIs. Afterwards his acknowledgment to the bank in aboriginal September went ailing and larboard him adverse the authoritativeness of Tommy John, Ohtani improbably racked up four homers and 10 RBIs in his aboriginal four amateur aback at the plate.
The Angels aspect that animation to Ohtani’s brainy toughness, which is a key accompaniment to his different skills.
“He’s got a abundant makeup,” Scioscia said. “I anticipate he understands the break of casting and hitting. He’s able to booty that batting helmet off and put that pitcher’s cap on and go angle aback he’s activity to pitch, and aback he’s hitting, he’s focused on hitting. He aloof wants to comedy baseball, whatever he can do. So I apperceive he’s attractive advanced to pitching, but I anticipate it’s an accessible alongside footfall for him to become aloof a hitter. He aloof loves to comedy the game.”
Away from the field, Ohtani appears to be acclimatized calmly in Orange County with his new club. While he doesn’t allege in accessible after Ippei Mazuhara, his translator and connected accompaniment at Angel Stadium, he acutely understands abundant added English than he did in April — and added Spanish, as apparent in his active contempo arrangement of “Despacito” on the aggregation bus.
Ohtani is finishing this division batting cleanup as the Angels’ appointed hitter, and he’s acceptable to resume that role in 2019. While the Angels abide durably committed to acknowledging Ohtani’s two-way skills, anybody about the club is acquisitive to see what Ohtani can achieve while he’s abundantly focused on aloof one ancillary of his two-way game.
“The affair about Shohei is he’s got the abeyant to do it all, and he’s committed to accepting there,” Scioscia said. “It’s not generally you see that aggregate in a guy, and he’s got it all.”
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