Shohei Ohtani took just 30 seconds in the dugout, swapped his batting helmet and knocked gloves for a pitcher’s glove and a red cap.
Pitching and hitting for the first time in his Angels career in the same game, Ohtani took the mound for the bottom of the first inning, which was already covered in dirt after hitting a single in the top of the inning.
As he let go of his arm, more than 15 minutes away from his pre-game warm-up tokens, a San Diego Padres hype video played on the scoreboard. The accompanying song echoed at Peoria Stadium, repeating the same line over and over.
That’s how you change the game.
Changing the game is exactly what Ohtani hopes to do. His legend reborn this spring, the promise of his two-way potential re-emerged with every sky-high home run and triple fastball, Ohtani’s latest legendary milestone unfolded on Sunday.
As the lead-off hitter for Angels, he had two basehits and walked.
As the starting pitcher for Angels, he struckout five batters in a one-run, four-inning outing, arriving at 101 mph with his fastball.
In the last 105 regular seasons of Major League Baseball, no player has hit the opening hit for his team and pitched several innings as a starter. Ohtani made it look easy.
Admittedly, it was just a training show in the spring. But less than two weeks from opening day, Ohtanis Cactus League continues to tearfully broaden expectations of what could be possible in 2021.
In opening position, Ohtani singled on the second pitch of the game and hit a line drive into left midfield to extend his jump hitting streak to nine games.
He spent the entire half inning running the bases and only returned to the dugout after being forced out at second base on a fielder’s choice.
But once he stepped up the hill, the dual roles hardly seemed to affect him.
Ohtani gave up his lone run in the first inning when Brian OGrady tripled on a bouncing ball down the rightfield line and scored on a groundout. Other than that, the Padres struggled to make hard contact.
He retired Fernando Tatis Jr. twice, knocking him out first on a signature splitter before forcing him into a pop-up on the infield. He also fanned Wil Myers with a splitter and froze Blake Snell, Jurickson Profar and Victor Caratini with breaking balls to knock them out.
He struggled with his command in the third inning to load the bases with two walks and a single, but escaped without giving up a run. His 62 places were his most of the spring.
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