TEMPE, Ariz. — Joe Maddon is excited about Shohei Ohtani. And excited means the new Angels manager already is looking at where to bat Ohtani in the lineup when he pitches. And not just in interleague games at NL parks.
Maddon is imagining having Ohtani bat leadoff to maximize the number of at-bats he gets before being removed as a starting pitcher, which in the AL would mean the Angels playing without a DH.
“Once he is well and received medical blessing, I would not run away from that,” Maddon said.
There is a long way from here to the game in which Maddon can ask Ohtani to both pitch and hit. There is still a good distance — even under the best circumstances — in which Ohtani will be allowed to pitch in a major league game. But Ohtani’s talent is such that Maddon cannot restrain his overactive baseball brain from envisioning the possibilities.
“It is not just like he is anybody,” Maddon said. “This could be the best pitcher in the game. This could be the best hitter in the game simultaneously. … It will be a matter of how much his arm can take, which I think it can once he is fully healthy.”
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