Rafu Staff and Wire Service Reports

Two-way star Shohei Ohtani on Friday donated his prize money from the home run derby to mem­bers of the Los Angeles Angels staff, while also being a huge hit with fans purchasing All-Star Game merchandise.

The first Japanese in Major League Baseball’s home run derby, Ohtani received $150,000 despite going out in the first round on Monday. According to The Orange County Register, Ohtani distributed those earnings to 30 in­dividual trainers, clubhouse workers and media relations people.

Pete Alonso of the New York Mets, the defending champion, won the $1 million first prize in the eight-player competition, while the runner-up earned $500,000.

Shohei Ohtani merchandise includes this 2021 opening week collage.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a number of Angels staffers were furloughed in 2020, while Ohtani in February agreed a two-year deal worth a total of $8.5 million.

But his impact extended beyond those at Angel Stadium. MLB announced that Ohtani, the first player to start the All-Star Game at two positions, pitcher and designated hitter, was a hit at the cash register, with his merchandise accounting for 28 percent of all All-Star merchandise revenue.

Ohtani dispelled any worries about an All-Star Game hangover Sunday when he went 2-for-3 and belted his major league-leading 34th home run in the Angels’ 7-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

He drew a pair of walks and showed off his speed with an infield single in the seventh inning at Angel Stadium.

His two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth brought the Angels to within three runs and demonstrated his ability to hit pitches outside the strike zone.

The 3-2 slider from right-hander Paul Sewald came in well below the zone, but Ohtani lifted it a projected 419 feet out to right field, according to Statcast.

The impressive outing was a turnaround for Ohtani, who had gone a combined 1-for-10, with six strikeouts, in his first two games after the All-Star break.

Angels manager Joe Maddon said Ohtani’s mechanics, rather than fatigue, were behind the mini-slump.

“He might’ve been off a bit mechanically – more in pull-mode – so that’s why I liked that his home run was almost to center,” Maddon told MLB.com.

Ohtani was scheduled to make his 14th pitching start on the road Monday against the Oakland Ath­letics and was also expected to be in the batting lineup.

• • •

Kyle Higashioka is among six New York Yankees who have been placed on the Injured List due to positive COVID-19 test results.

Thursday’s opening game of the Yankees’ series against the Boston Red Sox was postponed as six New York players including Aaron Judge were entered into MLB’s coronavirus-related protocol.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.