Shohei Ohtani says he can pitch in aid for potential WBC ultimate

Shohei Ohtani advised Japanese reporters Sunday that he can be accessible solely to pitch out of the bullpen within the World Baseball Classic ultimate Tuesday ought to Japan beat Mexico within the semifinals.

“I don’t think there’s a chance of me starting, but of course I’d like to prepare to pitch in relief,” Ohtani stated in Japanese to reporters. “That will depend on my physical condition. Up to this point, the team has really listened to my selfish requests and there are many things I’m doing that they have tolerated.

“This is the end of the end. From here, I’d like to have a discussion with my body and make a decision.”

Ohtani surrendered two runs on 4 hits and threw 71 pitches throughout 4 ⅔ innings in Japan’s quarterfinal win over Italy in Tokyo on Thursday night time. One of the pitches was a 102-mph fastball — the toughest pitch he’s ever thrown as knowledgeable. Accounting for the time distinction, Ohtani would pitch Tuesday on 4½ days’ relaxation. He’s by no means pitched on lower than 5 days’ relaxation.

The Angels’ two-way celebrity has been top-of-the-line pitchers and hitters within the event. At the plate, he’s 7 for 16 (.438) with one residence run, three doubles, eight walks and eight RBIs. On the mound, he’s given up two runs — each in opposition to Italy — in 8 ⅔ innings over two begins.

Japan supervisor Hideki Kuriyama declined to say whether or not Ohtani would pitch within the ultimate.

“Regarding pitching, there are strategic issues and there are also considerations about his body,” Kuriyama stated after Japan’s exercise at loanDepot Park. “I can’t really say at this point.”

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With Ohtani restricted to aid, Japan might flip to Yu Darvish to begin the sport on the mound. Darvish additionally pitched Thursday in opposition to Italy however out of the bullpen. He gave up one run and threw 27 pitches throughout two innings.

Japan must defeat Mexico within the semifinals Monday for Tuesday’s pitching availability to matter. It’ll be Patrick Sandoval’s job to assist make that irrelevant.

The Angels left-hander will make his second begin of the event for Mexico on Monday after holding Team USA to at least one run in three innings in Mexico’s upset win in Phoenix on March 12. Sandoval confronted Angels teammate Mike Trout twice, placing him out as soon as and strolling him the second time.

On Monday, he’ll confront one of many different groups favored to win the event and Ohtani, the Angels’ different generational expertise. Sandoval stated he briefly spoke with Ohtani on the sphere Sunday between the groups’ respective exercises, however he stated the approaching matchup wasn’t mentioned.

“Oh, absolutely, yeah, without a doubt,” the 26-year-old Sandoval stated when requested if there might be trash discuss within the Angels’ clubhouse after the event. “I’ll let Trout know, for sure [that I struck him out]. Hopefully I can let Ohtani know as well. But, yeah, it’s fun. We got a great clubhouse there and guys love to give each other crap. So it’s fun. It will be fun.”

Roki Sasaki, maybe one of the best pitcher on this planet not within the main leagues, will begin reverse Sandoval for Japan.

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Sasaki is 21. He boasts a 100-mph fastball. Last April, he tossed an ideal recreation with 19 strikeouts for Chiba Lotte. He adopted up the outing with eight good innings and 14 strikeouts earlier than he was pulled from the scoreless recreation out of precaution.

“He’s young from an age standpoint,” Kuriyama stated, “but he’s a pitcher who has advanced to this point by being a pitcher with ability who developed at the same pace with his body’s development.”

Sasaki has stated his dream is to play within the majors. The query is when.

“I think I will play in Japan,” Sasaki stated via an interpreter. “And then I think something will become clear when I’m going to shift over.”

Ohtani, 28, was as soon as additionally a phenom in Japan. He’s proved pitching — and hitting — success in Japan interprets to the majors. Velocity performs wherever and each have it. Should Japan attain the ultimate, each abilities might take the mound on one of many world’s largest baseball phases.

Staff columnist Dylan Hernández contributed to this report.