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Shohei Ohtani looks to pad All-Star resume vs. Astros

Sportsnaut
Jul 12, 2022; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) signals for left fielder Brandon Marsh (16) to score after Houston Astros relief pitcher Rafael Montero (47) throws a passed ball during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Shohei Ohtani will start for the host Angels on Wednesday night against the Houston Astros, his last appearance on the mound before next Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

Ohtani has been named to the American League All-Star team for the second year in a row as both the designated hitter and a pitcher. Ohtani was the AL’s starting pitcher in last year’s All-Star Game; this year’s starter has not yet been named.

The two-way player has been on a roll on the mound lately, going 5-0 with a 0.27 ERA in his past five starts. He has not allowed an earned run in 28 2/3 innings, going back to June 9. Over his last three starts, he has 34 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings.

Ohtani, who is 8-4 with a 2.44 ERA in 14 starts overall, is among those considered to start the All-Star Game along with Houston’s Justin Verlander (11-3, 2.00 ERA) and Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan (9-3, 1.73).

Ohtani, though, likely is to get the nod because of his role as the designated hitter — it would be difficult for him to get warmed up to come in as a reliever if he’s batting in the lineup.

“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,” Angels interim manager Phil 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.”

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

He is 1-1 with an 0.84 ERA in two starts against the Astros this season, and 1-3 with a 4.75 ERA in seven career starts against them.

Angels center fielder Mike Trout’s status for Wednesday’s game is unknown. Recently named to his 11th All-Star team, Trout was removed from Tuesday’s game in the fifth inning because of upper back spasms.

Right-hander Cristian Javier (6-4, 3.01) will make his 13th start (17th appearance overall) for Houston this season. He’s coming off a loss in his last start, when he gave up five runs on four hits and three walks in five innings against the Kansas City Royals.

He is 1-0 with an 0.73 ERA in three games (one start) against the Angels this season, and 3-0 with a 1.95 ERA in seven games (three starts) in his career.

The Astros will be without designated hitter/left fielder Yordan Alvarez, who was placed on the injured list retroactive to Sunday with inflammation in his right hand.

Alvarez, who is hitting .306 with 26 homers and 60 RBIs, and leads the majors in slugging percentage (.653) and OPS (1.058), will be eligible to rejoin the active roster after the All-Star break.

“It’s gotten progressively worse,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “First, it was only bothering him to swing and miss, but then it was bothering him every swing after that.

“Hands are so important when you hit. The worst part of a hand injury is it bothers you in everything that you do. We’ve got to take care of it, or else it could linger for a long time.”

–Field Level Media