(Reuters) – Japanese standout Shohei Ohtani, a threat on the mound or in the batter’s box, will initially focus mainly as a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels, manager Mike Scioscia said on Tuesday.
“He’s going to get the most looks as a pitcher,” Scioscia told reporters as Ohtani prepares for his first spring training in the Major Leagues.
“If he can pitch to his capabilities, that will always influence your team more than what he would do hitting. But that’s not to say he won’t have a chance to be a difference-maker on the offensive end, too.”
Ohtani’s two-way ability has prompted comparisons with Hall of Famer Babe Ruth.
The Angels won a heated race to sign the coveted 23-year-old who had a 2.52 earned run average (ERA) in five seasons with the Nippon Ham-Fighters.
He also hit .332 in 2017 and has slugged 48 home runs in 1,035 career at-bats.
Ohtani underwent a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) shot in October to help treat a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm and had right ankle surgery in October.
He took a physical with the Angels on Tuesday before getting some swings in the cage and taking part in long toss.
The Angels are also bringing back other pitchers from injury and Scioscia said the team intend to use a six-man rotation.
“We need him to pitch. He’s a big part of our rotation,” Scioscia said. “Secondary to that, when he has an opportunity to swing the bat, we definitely want to take a look at him.”
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)