Angels name Shohei Ohtani their Opening Day starter

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels made the assumed official on Thursday, naming right-hander Shohei Ohtani their Opening Day starter.

The Angels are scheduled to open the season at the Oakland Athletics on March 30.

This is the second straight Opening Day start for Ohtani, the 2021 American League MVP, after a stellar season at both designated hitter and as a starting pitcher.

He lost a 3-1 game to the Houston Astros on Opening Day in 2022, giving up one earned run in 4 2/3 innings and 80 pitches. He rebounded to finish the season 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA in 28 starts. He pitched 166 innings and struck out 219 batters, finishing fourth in the American League Cy Young voting.

At the plate, he hit .273, with 90 runs, six triples, 34 home runs and 95 RBIs. He finished second in the MVP voting to Aaron Judge.

The Angels look to return to the postseason after an eight-year drought. Ohtani, 28, will be a free agent following the 2023 season, and he never has played in the playoffs. Fellow superstar Mike Trout has appeared in just three postseason games in his 12 seasons with the Angels.

“I’m really not thinking about free agency right now,” Ohtani told reporters Thursday from spring training in Tempe, Ariz. “I’ve never been a free agent so I don’t know what it feels like. Like I said, I’m focused on the season. I’m not trying to think too far ahead.”

–Field Level Media

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