Ohtani’s previous defensive experience in the majors had been limited to pitcher
By R.J. Anderson
Saturday was not a particularly fun day for the Los Angeles Angels, as they dropped a 16-2 boat race against the Astros despite Houston losing starter Jake Odorizzi to an injury after five pitches. If there was a bright side to the afternoon (other than it counting as only one game in the standings, anyway) it’s that the blowout enabled two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani to make personal history.
Ohtani entered Saturday having appeared in 271 games in the majors without playing a defensive position other than pitcher. He corrected that during the eighth inning, when he took over in left field for Anthony Bemboom, whose services were required on the mound. Ohtani played a fair amount of outfield during his days in Japan with Nippon Professional Baseball’s Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, but the Angels have taken a conservative approach with him as a means of preserving his health as best as possible.
Predictably, Ohtani did not look as graceful in left field on his lone fielding opportunity on Saturday as he tends to in the batter’s box or on the mound. Take a look:
Our Dayn Perry subscribes to a particular ethos on most matters: figure out what it takes to get by and then do even less than that. Ohtani, wisely given his importance to the Angels’ playoff aspirations, appeared to channel Perry on that particular play.
Ohtani was also a bright spot at the plate on Saturday, going 1-for-4 with a home run, his sixth of the young season. He’s now batting .292/.329/.653 in his first 76 plate appearances. On the pitching side of things, Ohtani has been limited to just two starts this year because of a blister. In his most recent outing, Tuesday against the Texas Rangers, he struck out seven batters but walked six over four shutout frames.