Shohei Ohtani named an AL All-Star as pitcher

BALTIMORE — Before last year, no player had ever been selected to the All-Star Game as both a position player and a pitcher. But Shohei Ohtani made history last season, earning both honors, and he did it again on Sunday.

Ohtani, who was voted in as the starter at designated hitter for the American League on Friday, was named an All-Star as a starting pitcher on Sunday, as announced on ESPN. It’s another incredible accomplishment for Ohtani, who was also the unanimous winner of last year’s AL MVP Award. He’ll get a chance to show off his two-way talent for the Midsummer Classic at Dodger Stadium on July 19, although he hasn’t decided yet whether he’ll participate in the Home Run Derby on July 18 like he did last year .

“It’s a huge honor,” Ohtani said through performer Ippei Mizuhara. “I would like to give it my best for all the people who voted and supported me.”

Angels interim manager Phil Nevin, who was an All-Star in 2001 with the Padres, marveled at Ohtani being selected as both a DH and a starting pitcher for a second straight year.

“I think it’s awesome,” Nevin said. “This game is about the big stage and everybody being able to see the best players in our game, and he certainly is on both sides of the ball. To see him get an inning on the mound and hit, I think that’s what fans want to see. We see it every day, so we get kind of spoiled. I know fans on the East Coast don’t get to see him as much, so to be able to tune in on Tuesday and see both sides of Shohei is special.”

Ohtani, 28, has been pitching even better than he did last season, as he’s 8-4 with a 2.44 ERA in 14 starts. He has struck out 111, walked 20 and allowed eight homers in 81 innings. He has punched out 34.4 percent of the batters he has faced, which is the second-best mark among Major League starters, behind only Rays All-Star Shane McClanahan’s 36 percent.

Ohtani has been on an incredible run recently, as he’s 5-0 with a 0.27 ERA over his past five starts and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past four outings. Ohtani is also batting .289/.383/.598 with eight homers and 22 RBIs in 27 games over that span. He became just the eighth player since earned runs became official in 1913 to have at least 40 strikeouts and zero earned runs in a four-start span.

“There’s so many adjectives you could use to describe him,” Nevin said. “I feel like I say it every week but he puts us on his shoulders and grabs a hold of the game and runs with it.”

Ohtani was the starting pitcher for the AL last year — and the leadoff hitter — but it hasn’t been announced who will start this year’s Midsummer Classic for the AL. Houston’s Justin Verlander and McClanahan are other top candidates.

“I haven’t talked to anybody yet about when and where I’ll be playing in the All-Star Game,” Ohtani said. “I will come up with my plan once I find out more.”

If Ohtani doesn’t start, however, it could be difficult for him to find the time to get warmed up as a pitcher if he’s also serving as the starting DH. But Nevin said he’s confident they’ll find a plan that works for Ohtani and will keep him healthy.

“I’m not sure how it would work if he’s DHing and needs to ramp up, but I’m never worried about anything he’s going to do physically,” Nevin said. “He’s very mindful of what is good and bad for his body . He’s pretty impressive with what he does with his body.”

Ohtani will be joined by fellow superstar Mike Trout as the Angels’ representatives for the All-Star Game. He’s Trout’s 10th All-Star selection and his ninth as a starting outfielder. Nevin recently stumped for outfielder Taylor Ward and left-hander Patrick Sandoval to be All-Stars, but neither were selected.

MLB All-Star Week information can be found at AllStarGame.com and on social media @MLB. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.

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