ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Rays saw plenty of Shohei Ohtani in Monday’s series opener, as he hit two home runs in the Angels’ 11-3 win, including his first professional grand slam.
Wednesday afternoon they will get the full Ohtani experience, as the two-way star from Japan is scheduled to be the starting pitcher and is in the Angels lineup as the DH.
Rays manager Kevin Cash marvels at what Ohtani has done while trying to put it in the proper context.
“We’re seeing something that we’ve never seen,” Cash said. “I don’t know anybody that would say, ‘Oh, in five years, we’ll see it again. In 10 years, we’ll see it again.’ I don’t think anybody feels that convicted. So we should be appreciating it quite a bit, because he’s a really special talent.”
Shane McClanahan, who starts for the Rays on Wednesday, is also impressed by Ohtani.
“He’s one of a kind — I think that’s the only way to put it,” McClanahan said. “He’s very special. He won MVP last year for a reason. He does it on the mound. He does it at the plate. And I think we’re all pretty lucky to be able to watch him do his thing.”
Corey Kluber, the 12-year veteran who at times has been among the game’s top starting pitchers, also is in awe, particularly over how Ohtani can put in the work necessary to be so good in both roles.
“From what I’ve heard, the discipline to do everything you need to do on a day-to-day basis is second to none,” he said. “That alone — I mean, preparing yourself to do one takes enough time. And then to do both of them and excel at both of them, not just to do it for the sake of doing it, but to be really good at both, too, is very impressive.”
Noting the number of top starters McClanahan has matched up with, Cash is confident the 25-year-old lefty will be focused on his assignment, though the uniqueness of the situation tripped Cash up.
“He’s not pitching against the guy on the mound. He’s pitching against a very good Anaheim lineup. He’s got his hands full,” Cash said. “Well, he is pitching against the guy on the mound. So he’s got his hands full.”
Cash in a way is to blame for the new rule for this year that allows Ohtani to stay in the game as the DH after he is done pitching. Cash pushed for Major League Baseball to make that change last July when he managed the American League team in the All-Star Game — knowing Ohtani would only pitch one inning and fans wanted to see him hit — and it was adopted for regular-season play.
“Bad idea on my part,” Cash joked.
Margot injury brings Brujan back
Manuel Margot was not in Tuesday’s lineup and is likely to be rested again Wednesday leading into Thursday’s off day. He left Monday’s game with right hamstring tightness. “I‘m optimistic and hopeful, maybe more hopeful than optimistic, that he’s going to be all right,” said Cash, adding that Margot would be available in a key situation.
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Infielder/outfielder Vidal Brujan, a switch hitter who can play just about anywhere, was called up from Triple-A Durham, where he was hitting .300 with an .817 OPS, and said he has been feeling good about his play. Reliever Calvin Faucher was sent down after his rough Monday debut, allowing five runs as he walked Mike Trout with the bases loaded and gave up Ohtani’s slam. “He’s a guy that we like,” Cash said of Faucher. “That outing does not change our opinion of him.”
Ohtani received his AL MVP and other awards in a pre-game ceremony. ... Monday marked the second time in franchise history the Rays allowed a “home run cycle” — solo, two-run, three-run, grand slam — in a game; also July 23, 2002, at Boston in a 22-4 loss. ... Wednesday’s game ends a stretch of playing 16 straight days (third longest of the season), with three of the next 12 days off. ... Cash said the Rays were impressed with the at-bats and defensive play of Isaac Paredes, the infielder acquired (for Austin Meadows) from Detroit, when he filled in during Ji-Man Choi’s 10 days on the injured list: “Looks like a baseball player.”
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