Can major league star Shohei Ohtani (29, LA Angels) participate in the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) as a two-time pitcher?
Japanese local media ‘Nikkan Gendai’ said on the 5th, “An invisible tug-of-war is underway between the Japanese national team and the Angels regarding Ohtani’s dual job as a pitcher.”
Ohtani, who announced his intention to join the WBC national team, is a two-time double star representing the major league, the world’s best stage. As a hitter, he recorded 127 home runs, 342 runs batted in, and a slugging percentage of 0.532.
He improved more as a pitcher last year. He posted 15 wins, his first double-digit victory in his debut, and also succeeded in reaching the regulation innings (162 innings). As a hitter, he had a perfect year with 34 homers and a batting average of 0.273 (160 hits in 586 at-bats), entering the required number of at-bats (502 at-bats).
The Japanese national team and fans want a picture of Ohtani standing on the mound as a pitcher and holding the bat at the plate as a hitter, but this will not be an easy decision.
The media said, “Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Enterprise, the Yomiuri Shimbun, the organizer of the WBC Japan Round, and the national team coach Hideki Kuriyama will want Ohtani to double as a pitcher. It is because he can mobilize a large number of spectators because of his skills as well as his topicality.” wrote that
However, “The Angels are currently negotiating the sale of the club. While trying to raise the value of the club as much as possible, if Ohtani, one of the best stars in the major leagues, misses the WBC for a long time due to an injury, the negotiations may be disrupted. Tug-of-war between Japan and the club As the series continues, Ohtani’s dual career as a pitcher will be affected.”
Coach Kuriyama, who knows the situation well, is said to be struggling with Ohtani’s double career as a pitcher. In a New Year’s interview with ‘Sports Hochi’ 스포츠토토 on the 2nd, he said, “I’ve been thinking a lot about Ohtani’s technique. I’ll talk and think about what choice to make. Also, the team should be in the most helpful form for victory. Discuss with the Angels. We will make a final decision after examining his physical condition in February of the same year.”
Fans’ attention is focused on whether Ohtani’s cartoon baseball, which both pitcher and hitter are outstanding at, will be able to continue in international competitions.