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MLB: Shohei Ohtani to start as pitcher, bat leadoff in ASG

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Los Angeles Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani will be the American League’s starting pitcher and leadoff hitter in the All-Star Game on Tuesday in Denver.

Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer will provide the opposition at Coors Field for the National League. He will make his fourth start in the All-Star Game.

“I was actually not expecting to be chosen as a pitcher at all,” Ohtani said Monday via translator Ippei Mizuhara. “It’s a huge honor and I’m going to try my best.”

Major League Baseball is tweaking the rules to allow Ohtani to remain in the game after he is done pitching. The only way the American League will lose the designated hitter position is if Ohtani — or one of his replacements at DH — were to play a position in the field other than pitcher.

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

Ohtani, who is competing in the Home Run Derby on Monday, leads the majors in homers (33), extra-base hits (56), total bases (210) and slugging percentage (.698) this season. The first-time All-Star is also batting .279 with 70 RBIs, three shy of Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero for the lead in the majors.

Ohtani and Guerrero are the first two batters in the AL lineup, followed by Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge, Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers, Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez, Blue Jays left fielder Teoscar Hernandez and Baltimore Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins.

Ohtani owns a 4-1 record with a 3.49 ERA in 13 starts this season. He will become the sixth Angels pitcher to start an All-Star Game, joining Ken McBride (1963), Dean Chance (1964), Nolan Ryan (1979), Mark Langston (1993) and Jered Weaver (2011).

Scherzer, 36, is 7-4 with a 2.66 ERA in 17 starts. He wasn’t even on the National League roster until being named as an injury/opt-out replacement on Friday.

“It’s an incredible feeling to be named to an eighth All-Star Game and now my fourth chance to start it. It’s an incredible honor,” Scherzer said on Monday. “When you step into a room full of All-Stars and you get the ball, that’s a special feeling. It’s really hard putting it into words. So for Dave (Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers and NL manager) to select me again and to give that honor to me with the quality of arms that are in the National League this year, I’m very blessed and very thankful for that opportunity.”

San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. will lead off for the National League. Dodgers star Max Muncy will bat second as the designated hitter, followed by St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado, Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, Cincinnati Reds right fielder Nick Castellanos and left fielder Jesse Winker, Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto, Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds and second baseman Adam Frazier.

–Field Level Media

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