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Ohtani could work as closer should Japan reach WBC championship game

Ohtani could work as closer should Japan reach WBC championship game

Shohei Ohtani could have a chance to add another item to his already impressive list of baseball accomplishments.


Ohtani told Japanese media on Sunday that he could be eligible to work on the bench if Team Japan makes it to the championship game of the World Baseball Classic.

“I don’t think there’s a chance I’ll start, but of course I’d like to prepare for relief,” Ohtani said in Japanese press, via the Los Angeles Times. “It will depend on my physical condition…[t]his is the end of the end. From here I would like to talk to my body and make a decision.”

Despite the fact that he is still essentially preparing for the regular season, Ohtani was completely dominant during the World Baseball Classic. Earlier in the tournament, the two-way star threw a 102 MPH fastball against Italy, the fastest pitch he’s ever thrown in a professional game.

Overall during the WBC, Ohtani pitched 8.2 innings while striking out 10 and walking just one batter. He has a 2.08 ERA.

Ohtani, perhaps the most unique MLB player in modern memory, has only managed to improve each season since moving to the majors in 2018. He won the American League MVP two years ago and finished as the runner-up for the award during the 2022 season. Ohtani also finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting for his work last summer.

As a pending free agent after the 2023 season, Ohtani has a chance to become the game’s first $500 million player. He’s not only among the top five starting pitchers in baseball, he’s also one of the best left-handed power hitters in the league. He is two superstars in one player.

For one game, he might at least have a chance to add a third line to that two-line resume: as a potential closer in the international tournament.

For Ohtani’s option as a closer to play out, Japan must beat Mexico in the semifinals. If they advance, the spectacle of a possible matchup with Team USA looms, opening the door to the possibility of seeing Ohtani face fellow superstar Mike Trout, his longtime Los Angeles teammate.

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