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.
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.
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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.