Shohei Ohtani has become one of biggest names in baseball as he stars on the mound and at the plate — but some are worried playing two crucial positions could lead to burnout and injuries.
Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman offered a solution that could allow Ohtani to pitch and hit while limiting the risk of an injury.
“For me, I think you DH him and I think you close him,” Zimmerman said on “The Sports Junkies” on 106.7 The Fan. “At least you get some value out of the pitching side without taxing him.”
Ohtani has been the Angels’ best player, especially since future Hall of Famer Mike Trout has only appeared in 36 games this season due to injury. The 27-year-old leads the MLB in home runs with 33 and sits in third with 70 RBIs while having a slash line of .279/.364/.698.
The Japanese-born outfielder has been just as impressive on the mound. With a lethal splitter, cutter and curveball, Ohtani has struck out 87 batters while holding a 3.49 ERA in 67 innings.
“We’ve never seen anybody be able to pitch and hit at this level in the modern era,” Zimmerman said. “It’s pretty amazing if you think about it, what he’s doing and how successful he is doing it.”
But Ohtani’s injury history could be cause for concern. He missed the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery a year earlier. Ohtani only pitched in two starts last season due to a forearm strain but hit and played in the field.
Healthy so far this season, Ohtani participated in the Home Run Derby and is scheduled to start for the American League in the All-Star game, which means he will not get the week to rest for the second half of the season.
“What an unbelievable talent for him to come to the Big Leagues and do this,” Zimmerman said. “Nobody has done this in the modern era. It’s fun to watch and good for the game. Hopefully, he does both and stays healthy and does it for a long time. I think that would be great for the game of baseball.”