Shohei Ohtani says he can pitch in relief for potential WBC final

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

“I don’t assume there’s an opportunity of me beginning, however after all I’d like to arrange to pitch in aid,” Ohtani mentioned in Japanese to reporters. “That can rely upon my bodily situation. Up thus far, the staff has actually listened to my egocentric requests and there are a lot of issues I’m doing that they’ve tolerated.

“That is the tip of the tip. From right here, I’d wish to have a dialogue with my physique and decide.”

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 evening. One of many 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 among the best pitchers and hitters within the event. On the plate, he’s 7 for 16 (.438) with one dwelling run, three doubles, eight walks and eight RBIs. On the mound, he’s given up two runs — each towards Italy — in 8 ⅔ innings over two begins.

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

“Relating to pitching, there are strategic points and there are additionally concerns about his physique,” Kuriyama mentioned after Japan’s exercise at loanDepot Park. “I can’t actually say at this level.”

With Ohtani restricted to aid, Japan might flip to Yu Darvish to start out the sport on the mound. Darvish additionally pitched Thursday towards 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 Workforce USA to 1 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 mentioned he briefly spoke with Ohtani on the sector Sunday between the groups’ respective exercises, however he mentioned the upcoming matchup wasn’t mentioned.

“Oh, completely, yeah, indubitably,” the 26-year-old Sandoval mentioned when requested if there will probably be trash discuss within the Angels’ clubhouse after the event. “I’ll let Trout know, for positive [that I struck him out]. Hopefully I can let Ohtani know as effectively. However, yeah, it’s enjoyable. We received an awesome clubhouse there and guys love to offer one another crap. So it’s enjoyable. It is going to be enjoyable.”

Roki Sasaki, maybe the most effective pitcher on the planet not within the main leagues, will begin reverse Sandoval for Japan.

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

“He’s younger from an age standpoint,” Kuriyama mentioned, “however he’s a pitcher who has superior thus far by being a pitcher with capability who developed on the similar tempo along with his physique’s improvement.”

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

“I believe I’ll play in Japan,” Sasaki mentioned by way of an interpreter. “After which I believe one thing will turn into clear once 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 anyplace and each have it. Ought to Japan attain the ultimate, each abilities might take the mound on one of many world’s largest baseball levels.

Employees columnist Dylan Hernández contributed to this report.