Ohtani will appear as a relief pitcher in the finals… “I want to see the condition of my body and throw it”

 At the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC), Shohei Ohtani (LA Angels) of the Japan national team prepares to throw as a relief pitcher when he advances to the final. He showed a willingness to pitch out of the bullpen if he got fit.

On the 21st (Korean time), the Japanese메이저놀이터 national team will play against Mexico in the semifinals at Rondipo Park in Miami, Florida, USA.

Japan passed the first round with four wins, and defeated Italy 9-3 in the quarterfinals. If they win against Mexico, they will advance to the final 14 years after winning in 2009.

According to Japanese media, Ohtani pitched during team training held at Londippo Park on the 19th. Afterwards, Ohtani said about the possibility of making the mound as a pitcher if he advances to the finals, “Of course, I don’t think there is a starter (pitcher). He wants to be prepared to throw as a reliever. It’s a matter for him to decide after seeing his physical condition,” he said.

Ohtani, who also plays as a pitcher in the WBC, played as a starting pitcher and designated hitter in the first round against China on the 9th and against Italy in the quarterfinals on the 16th. Ohtani had a good fight with 4 innings, 1 hit, 5 strikeouts and no runs against China, and against Italy, he recorded 4 hits, 5 strikeouts and 2 runs in 4⅔ innings.

Phil Nevin, manager of Ohtani’s team, the Angels, said, “If Ohtani advances to the semifinals or finals, he will not pitch as a pitcher.” The quarterfinals were considered his last appearance as a pitcher.

However, Ohtani is prepared to pitch as a relief pitcher if Japan advances to the finals. Ohtani said, “So far, the club has listened to me well. It’s the last one because it really allows for a lot of things. Lastly, I want to see my physical condition and make a decision (to be a relief pitcher in the finals).”

In the semifinal against Mexico on the 21st, Japanese pitchers are waiting in the bullpen following starter Roki Sasaki. If they go all-out and make it to the finals, the bullpen pitchers will have to pitch two days in a row. If Japan makes it to the finals, there’s a chance they’ll see Ohtani’s first reliever appearance.  

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