Seeing a pitcher throw off a mound and hit in the same game is nothing special. After a 2020 season in which there was a universal DH, the National League will be having their pitchers hit again in 2021. Usually they hit ninth in the lineup. Sometimes maybe eighth if the manager is creative.
However, they never hit leadoff. Well, that’ll change today.
On Sunday, Shohei Ohtani will be the starting pitcher for the Angels. He’ll also be hitting No. 1 in the lineup. When speaking with reporters prior to the game, Joe Maddon said that this is something that has been in the works for weeks.
“We’ve talked about it for a few weeks,” Maddon said. “He’s ready to rock and roll.”
Maddon said that the reason Ohtani is hitting first is because he wanted to maximize his offensive utility and try to get him as many at bats as possible.
This isn’t something that all of a sudden came out of the blue. Maddon said that he went to Ohtani a while back to get his understanding on the possible situation and if he’d be willing to try it out.
“I wanted his feelings and thoughts in advance,” Maddon said. “I gave him my thoughts and ideas. We’ve been working towards this moment. Just pop it out there and see what it looks like.”
It’s funny. Immediately, you think about how crazy this truly is. But as I mentioned earlier in the article, you see a pitcher hit and pitch in the same game all the time, so it’s truly nothing unheard of.
“It’s not unusual,” Maddon said. “Pitchers have hit in games for years. The difference would be that your pitcher hits first. If he was in the National League, he’d have to play a position when he’s not pitching. He just happens to be hitting first.”
It will be interesting to see how the Angels prefer to do this, based on whether or not they are at home or on the road. Today’s game is a road game, meaning Ohtani will be hitting before he takes the mound. At home, he’d take the mound before stepping up to the plate.
“That’s why I want to feel this,” Maddon said. “This is on the road. At home it seems to be less problematic. On the road, obviously you’re the first hitter of the game so you have to do something differently. So we talked about that to see if he was comfortable, and he was.”
Maddon wouldn’t say if we could see the Angels doing this again soon for a home game to test it out. However, he did say what Ohtani is currently doing will inspire the younger generation and leave a strong impact on them, potentially allowing more two-way players into the game in the coming years.
“He’s going to inspire more of this,” he said. “I think it’s already happening a bit. It’s natural. Kids growing up are going to want to do the same thing.”