Alex Cora ‘in awe’ of Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani – Lowell Sun
The Red Sox have already had a front row seat to the talents of Shohei Ohtani this season when the Angels star hit a pair of home runs during their mid-May series at Fenway Park. It included a game-winning homer in the ninth inning off Matt Barnes in the finale, prompting the Red Sox closer to say Ohtani is “the most physically gifted baseball player I’ve ever seen.”
This week, though, they’ll get a glimpse at the full arsenal of Ohtani, the two-way star the sport hasn’t seen the likes of since Babe Ruth. The Red Sox missed his turn in the rotation in May, but will have to prepare for him as both a hitter and pitcher this week in Anaheim as he makes a start on the mound Tuesday night.
Ohtani, who turned 27 on Monday, has stopped the baseball world with an unprecedented season. On Sunday, he became the first player in baseball history to be named an All-Star as both a position player and pitcher, as he’ll start next week’s game as the designated hitter. He entered this week’s three-game set against the Red Sox with a league-leading 31 home runs and a 3.60 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 12 starts as a pitcher.
“The most impressive thing, like I mentioned the other day talking to (Rafael Devers) about it, it’s actually very hard to prepare to do both at this level,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “The workouts, I don’t know how that works, bullpens, the days in between starts and then you’ve got to prepare to hit. …
“This is the best level in baseball. For him to be able to be successful doing both is amazing. I’m actually in awe with everything that he’s doing.”
Ohtani’s season has made him an early frontrunner for American League MVP. J.D. Martinez last week said that he’s joked with teammates that if a player hits .270 with 30 homers and wins 12 games as a pitcher, “he has to be your MVP.” Cora didn’t seem to want to get too ahead of himself with naming an MVP in early July, but he certainly recognizes that he’ll be considered.
“We should make a new award for him,” Cora said. “For the hitters, he’s just a different breed. He’s something different. This is something MLB hasn’t seen since Babe Ruth. I don’t know. He should be in the conversation. The things that he does, the way that he dominates the game with everything he does, right now he’s probably the best player in the game right now because he’s able to do both at a high level.
“He’s not the best hitter. He’s not the best pitcher. But you combine everything and he’s the best player. I leave it at that. He’s in the conversation.”
The Red Sox, like everyone, are certainly amazed with what Ohtani was doing, but they won’t try to idolize him too much this week. The job is to beat him, as hard as that may be.
“What he’s done is incredible,” Christian Arroyo said. “It’s obviously unparalleled. It’s one of those things, you play against a guy like that, it’s pretty special, obviously, for us, but it’s still an opponent. Ideally I can’t wait to see him do nothing in this series. That means our pitchers executed their pitches and that means we did damage off him tomorrow.
“From a competitive standpoint, it’s always awesome to get to play against the best players in the game. But I’d way rather go on my phone and scroll on Instagram and see MLB posting about him when he’s playing against another team, not when he’s playing against us. It’s really special to watch.”
Arroyo activated from IL
As expected, Arroyo was reinstated from the injured list on Monday, as the Red Sox optioned Michael Chavis back to Worcester. Arroyo started at second for the series opener against the Angels and batted seventh, and returned with a bang as he hit a home run in his first at-bat.
Arroyo has made some big contributions both offensively and defensively this season, but injuries have continued to derail his momentum, which has been a theme of his career as he’s searched for consistent playing time and taking advantage of the opportunities in front of him. He hasn’t been too frustrated, though.
“I don’t really think of it that way,” Arroyo said. “It’s part of how you play the game. I play the game hard, and always try to make plays. It’s been freak stuff. It’s more frustrating when it’s things you can control, stuff where if you’re in there and maybe you don’t stretch well enough before the game or something and you’re not ready for the game, and all of a sudden you pull something. It’s just the freak injuries, they kind of stink, because you can’t really avoid them. It’s just part of baseball.” …
Chris Sale will throw two innings to live hitters on Tuesday in Fort Myers in the next step of his rehab from Tommy John surgery. If it goes well, he could be sent on a rehab start next week. Connor Seabold, who has been on the injured list with right elbow inflammation since the start of the Triple-A season, will also throw three innings on Tuesday in Fort Myers.