LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani is scheduled to make his major league pitching debut Sunday when he starts for the Los Angeles Angels in their fourth game of the season at Oakland.
The much-hyped Japanese star is expected to be the team’s designated hitter in at least one of the first three games, but it’s unclear if that will happen in the opener on Thursday.
“We haven’t determined our opening-day lineup yet,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Tuesday night.
The 23-year-old Ohtani, who struggled in spring training, was told after Tuesday’s exhibition game against the Dodgers that he’ll pitch Sunday.
Asked what he expects from Ohtani in his first start, Scioscia said: “He’s gotten into the mid-80-pitch range and should be able to get over 90 if he’s throwing to his capabilities. That’s plenty of pitches for him to get deep into the game. We’re going to take it one pitch at a time with all of our pitchers.”
Ohtani was supposed to get an at-bat or two on Tuesday night but that didn’t happen because the game was called in the bottom of the fifth inning due to a foul-smelling leak that spilled sewage onto the Dodger Stadium field near the home dugout.
The Angels play their home opener Monday against Cleveland. They plan to use a six-man rotation this season, but won’t need to open that way.
“We’re at five starters and we’ll eventually be at six,” Scioscia said. “As far as how everything was lining up, there were definitely some things we were looking at as far as how we started out of the gate. The thing about the starting rotation, especially this year, is that we’re going to be flexible and fluid.”
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The Dodgers and owner Mark Walter announced a $2 million donation to Habitat for Humanity of Puerto Rico.
The Angels designated catcher Carlos Perez for assignment. RHP Luke Bard, 1B Jefry Marte and RHP Noe Ramirez were all told they made the team. 1B-DH Chris Carter was told he didn’t make the team. Los Angeles also optioned pitcher Felix Pena to the minors.
Angels: RHP Garrett Richards will start on opening day in Oakland on Thursday. Richards missed most of last season with a biceps injury but returned to make five starts in September.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw pitches the opener Thursday at home against rival San Francisco. The 30-year-old Kershaw is set to start his eighth consecutive opener, a franchise record.
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