During his early days in Nippon Professional Baseball, Shohei Ohtani was more than just a designated hitter on days where he did not pitch. He spent time in the outfield, making a total of 64 appearances between left and right field. However, that practice ended in 2014, as Ohtani strictly worked as a pitcher or as the Nippon Ham Fighters’ DH.
While he could play in the field, that has not happened during his time in the majors. That is, until Saturday, when Ohtani made an appearance in left field for the Los Angeles Angels.
Los Angeles Angels put Shohei Ohtani in left out of necessity
With the Angels facing a 16-2 deficit against the Astros, manager Joe Maddon decided to summon Anthony Benboom to pitch the bottom of the eighth inning. This left the Angels without a left fielder, and only Ohtani and Mike Trout as possibilities. As Trout is still nursing a bruised elbow, Maddon put Ohtani in the field for the first time since 2014.
Ohtani spent far more time in right than he did in left during his time in Japan, making 57 appearances as a right fielder as opposed to seven on the opposite side of the outfield. However, he was solid defensively, with his strong arm serving as a weapon as an outfielder.
Chances are, Ohtani will not be making many more appearances in the outfield unless a similar situation arises. The Angels will want to protect their two way star from injury as much as possible, and keeping him strictly in the batter’s box when he is not pitching is the best way to do just that.
That does not mean that Angels’ fans will not dream of what could be. An outfield of Trout, Ohtani, and Jared Walsh would be something that the team could build around. But keeping Ohtani healthy, and potentially allowing him to develop into the Angels’ ace. Having that top of the rotation starter is more important, especially with Jo Adell hopefully getting ready to contribute in the majors.
Yes, that was Shohei Ohtani in left field for the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday. Do not expect to see that too much more in the future.