Two-way star Ohtani chosen as Angels’ Opening Day pitcher

The Associated Press
Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, left, of Japan, gives autographs to fans prior to a spring training baseball game against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday in Tempe, Ariz.

PHOENIX (AP) — The full Shohei Ohtani experience will be on display when the Los Angeles Angels take the field on opening day.

The two-way star was picked to be the team’s starting pitcher for the April 7 opener at Angel Stadium against the Houston Astros. He’s also expected to be in the lineup as the designated hitter.

The reigning AL Most Valuable Player is coming off one of the most unique and productive seasons in the sport’s history.

“I spoke to him, and he’s very excited about it,” Angels manager Joe Maddon told reporters on Friday. “Typically, he handles things with very limited emotion. Of course, he’s happy about it. He’s earned the right to do that. We’re ready to rock and roll. It’s exciting for everybody. It’s the right thing to do, and I’m looking forward to a good result.”

Ohtani was 9-2 on the mound last season with a 3.18 ERA, striking out 156 over 130⅓ innings. He also hit 46 homers, 26 doubles, an AL-best eight triples and stole 26 bases.

Ohtani is also expected to be the beneficiary of an MLB rule change. With the DH adopted in both leagues, pitchers who start games in the batting order can remain in the game as a DH after leaving the mound. A DH can also enter the game to pitch.