Trout may not score against Ohtani in WBC Championship – KGET 17

MIAMI (AP) – That matchup between Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in the World Baseball Classic may not happen.

Japan rallied in the ninth inning to beat Mexico and advance to Tuesday night’s championship game against the United States, but Shota Imanaga will start on the mound for the Samurai Warriors.

If Trout goes up against his Los Angeles Angels teammate, it would only be if Ohtani makes a rare relief appearance.

Japan manager Hideki Kuriyama said he would likely use the same starting lineup as in Monday night’s semifinal against Mexico, when Ohtani batted third as the designated hitter and doubled to start the comeback in the ninth inning.

Asked before the game what chance Ohtani had of pitching Tuesday, Kuriyama said through an interpreter, “I’m not going to say it’s zero.”

While Ohtani has never let up since joining the Angels for the 2018 season, he did come out of the bullpen twice for the Nippon-Ham Fighters of the Pacific League in 2013 and once in 2016.

“I’m definitely going to be ready to pitch anywhere, but before that I’m going to have to hit, so make sure I get some lines on the board before I get on the field,” Ohtani said through a translator.

Ohtani last took the mound on March 16 in a 9-3 quarterfinal victory over Italy in Tokyo, starting and pitching in the fifth inning. He allowed two runs and four hits with five strikeouts and a walk, throwing 71 pitches.

Trout, a three-time AL MVP, has been Ohtani’s teammate with the Los Angeles Angels since 2018, and as everyone has watched Ohtani become an unprecedented two-way star — Babe Ruth didn’t put up big offensive numbers until his pitching days were largely behind.

Ahead of the WBC, Trout pondered what it would be like to hit Ohtani, the 2021 AL MVP.

“I sit in the front row every time he plays when he’s with us, so it’s pretty badass,” Trout said. “And every person I talk to who confronts him says he doesn’t want to be in a box. So it will be interesting. I’m looking forward to it. He’s one of my good friends, so it’s going to be fun.”

Merrill Kelly starts for USA, who will be the visiting team. The Americans had the day off after losing to Cuba 14-2 in the semifinals.

Ohtani is hitting .450 with one home run, four doubles, nine walks and eight RBIs during the WBC. He is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings on the mound.

Trout is hitting .318 with one homer, seven RBIs, five walks and nine strikeouts in 22 at-bats.

“Obviously, Trout against Ohtani, I think it’s special,” Japan center fielder Lars Nootbaar said. “I think it’s good that Japan vs. USA will be in the final. And personally, I have some friends and teammates there, so it’s even more special and exciting.”


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