Angels’ Shohei Ohtani set to pitch, bat leadoff in All-Star Game: ‘This is what the fans wanna see’

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Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani will start as the pitcher and leadoff for the American League in the 2021 MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday night.

Ohtani was the only player to be selected to hit and pitch in an All-Star Game as he leads the league with 33 home runs and is 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA in 13 starts on the mound.

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Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash, who will be in charge of the American League squad, told reporters Monday he “begged” MLB to alter a rule that would allow Ohtani to be a pitcher and a designated hitter for the game and would allow him to insert a new DH when Ohtani comes out of the game.

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“This is what the fans wanna see,” Cash said, via ESPN. “It’s personally what I wanna see.”

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It’s not likely Ohtani will pitch more than one inning for the Mid-Summer Classic, since he is throwing and batting and is in the MLB Home Run Derby on Monday night.

The 27-year-old from Japan has become one of the top stars in baseball since the start of the 2021 season.

Not only is he leading MLB in home runs, but he’s also at the top in slugging percentage (.698) and total bases (210). He leads the American League in triples with four. He’s pitched in 67 innings and has a 3.49 ERA to go along with 87 strikeouts.

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“[NL manager Dave Roberts] and I both have responsibilities to protect not just our players but all players. And I think it made the most sense in the availability of it to do something that he has already done, rather than asking him to hit and come in later in the game [to pitch],” Cash added.