Ohtani Shohei (29, LA Angels) is drawing attention to whether he will double up as a pitcher at the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC). He is likely to play as a pitcher until the first round, but it raises questions about whether he will play again against Korea.
Japanese media ‘Ilgan Gendai’ reported on the 7th that ‘Ohtani’s trip to the mound at the WBC in 2023 is likely to be limited to the first round held at Tokyo Dome in Japan’. Japan was placed in Group B along with Korea, Australia, China and the Czech Republic in the first round. According to the report, Ohtani is highly likely to pitch in the game against Korea.
Pitcher Ohtani was a terrifying presence in Korea at the 2015 WBSC Premier 12 tournament. Ohtani made two mounds against Korea only, and had 1 win, 3 hits, 2 walks, and 21 strikeouts in 13 innings. Korea suffered a loss of pride by losing 0-5 in the opening game against Japan, and won a dramatic 4-3 come-from-behind victory against Japan again in the semifinals, but was tied tightly to Ohtani with no runs in 7 innings. Korea won the championship, but the best player in the tournament was Ohtani without dispute.
Ohtani is much stronger than 8 years ago. In 2018, 안전놀이터 he signed a contract with the Angels and entered the major leagues in the United States, announcing the birth of a two-time superstar in earnest in 2021. He won the American League MVP with a batting average of 0.257, 46 homers, 100 runs batted in, and 103 runs scored in 155 games on the mound, 9 wins in 23 games, 130⅓ innings pitched, and an earned run average of 3.18 on the mound. Last year, he showed off more stability as a pitcher with 28 games, 15 wins, 166 innings, and an ERA of 2.33, and he still boasted power with 34 homers and 95 RBIs at bat.
Japanese baseball team coach Hideki Kuriyama revealed plans to use Ohtani as a closer if he were to be used as a pitcher. He hasn’t finalized the plan, but it seems he won’t throw long innings as much as possible. As he cannot make Ohtani throw 6-7 innings each due to the pitch limit, he seems to be planning to write short as a winning card.
In the first round, where Ohtani is highly likely to pitch, Australia is considered an ambush against the two-final system between Japan and Korea in Group B. Ohtani is highly likely to pitch in the match against Korea and Australia.
Manager Kuriyama and Ohtani are currently avoiding a definitive answer to the question about the dual career of pitching. Coach Kuriyama said at a press conference for the Japanese national team on the 6th, “I need to confirm with the club (Angels) that I have a contract with,” and Ohtani briefly replied, “The player is in a position to be appointed.”
If Japan advances to the championship round in the United States, the final will be held on the 21st local time. The Angels’ regular season opener is on the 30th. Ilgendai said, ‘Ohtani is a candidate for the starting pitcher for the opening game, just like last season. Since there are only about nine days left after the tournament, the Angels do not want Ohtani to return to the WBC after exhausting his stamina with his two-time pitching job,’ he said. So, there is hope that we will be able to see pitcher Ohtani until the first round, when the opening of the major leagues is imminent.