Shohei Ohtani leads American League designated hitters in All-Star Game fan votes by a wide margin. But the Los Angeles Angels' two-way sensation also is putting together a spectacular season on the mound, creating the possibility of Ohtani both pitching and hitting at Coors Field in Denver on July 13.
Angels manager Joe Maddon, who has made it a point to ease most of Ohtani's prior restrictions, wouldn't be against it.
"Just depends on his day," Maddon said Monday. "It's just an inning, and I know that if he's able to do that, I would have no objections to it. His schedule's been great, the number of innings pitched, how many pitches he's thrown I think is in really good order. I don't see a dramatic spike between now and then. It would just be how he feels and what he thinks about it. I think that would be the way to determine that.
"The fact that he's such an unusual participant, definitely would like to hear what he has to say about it."
Ohtani (2-1), who has been better about consistently throwing strikes in recent weeks, has a 2.85 ERA with 68 strikeouts and 28 walks in 47⅓ innings through his first nine starts. He also entered Monday with a .961 OPS and 17 home runs, the latter tied for fifth most in the majors.
Ohtani, 26, had accumulated 526,608 votes in the first ballot update, nearly double the total by Boston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez (293,757). Ohtani's teammate, Mike Trout, easily led AL outfielders with 706,503 votes despite not playing since May 17 because of a calf strain. Maddon said Trout is progressing well but is still "at least another month" away from returning off the injured list, tracking him toward the back end of the initial six- to eight-week timetable.
Trout is unlikely to return to the Angels until the season's second half, making it "a stretch" that he appears in the All-Star Game, Maddon said. But Ohtani is on track to do so. And given his prodigious power, Ohtani also would be an obvious candidate for the Home Run Derby -- if the workload isn't too much of a concern for a player who already takes on such a large burden.
"I'm not as against that as others," Maddon said of the Home Run Derby. "I just don't like it when it becomes never-ending. There's gotta be a more finite method of doing this. It is exhausting, it can be exhausting. But, again, that would be something that I would wanna ask him how he felt about it. He would be honest. I don't think this is something you wanna attempt to force him to do or not to do. Just like we've been dealing with it the entire year -- that would be a conversation."