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Angels’ Shohei Ohtani could be most featured All-Star in baseball history

ANAHEIM ― Joe Maddon has seen 19 of his players appear in an All-Star Game over the course of his managerial career. When that player is a pitcher, he will inform the relevant All-Star manager about the pitcher’s recent workload and any usage limits he might require.

When it came to Shohei Ohtani, who was voted the starting designated hitter for the American League at the All-Star Game on July 13, Maddon’s conversation with AL manager Kevin Cash was unlike any other.

There are workload concerns with Ohtani. He will participate in the Home Run Derby on July 12. He figures to pitch once in the Angels’ final six games before the All-Star break. Though he has been healthy this season, Ohtani had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in October 2018.

Maddon, however, wants the world to see more from Ohtani in Denver than any All-Star in baseball history.

“It is very good for the game,” he said. “The maximum participation of Shohei, within limits, is the right thing to do. That means hitting and pitching. He’s already hitting in the Home Run Derby. What else could you possibly want? We just have to do it in a manner that is not going to in some way be destructive to him.”

Speaking through his interpreter via Zoom on Friday, Ohtani said he has not made any input regarding his participation. Rather, Ohtani said he will defer to his superiors.

The designated hitter rule is traditionally in effect for both teams at the All-Star Game. Major League Baseball must decide if and how to allow an American League pitcher to hit without losing its DH, or else require Ohtani to play a position in the field if he is to bat in the game as well.

Maddon said he believes there will be preparations “to relax a bit the DH rule.”

Ohtani must be in the starting lineup. He was the leading vote-getter among AL designated hitters. Mike Trout, the leading vote-getter among AL outfielders, was the only other Angel chosen to play in the game by fans.

Trout’s advice to Ohtani?

“Be able to slow everything down and enjoy every minute of it,” said Trout, an eight-time All-Star. “He’s going to wake up and he’ll be going back to Anaheim, it goes by so quick.”

Ohtani, a first-time All-Star, said he watched the game growing up in Japan.

“It is a pretty big milestone,” he said. “I want the team to win first. That’s the main priority for me. As long as I’m performing and helping the team win, it should come naturally to be selected as an All-Star.”

TROUT UPDATE

Trout will not be able to participate in the game because of a calf injury. He has not decided whether or not he will make the trip to Denver for the festivities. Nor can he be certain when he will play for the Angels – only that it will be no sooner than July 17, their second game following the All-Star break.

On the injured list since May 18, Trout said he’s been swinging a bat for a couple of days, jogging and playing catch. Until he was told he could resume baseball activities, Trout said he was “going crazy.”

“The last couple weeks the progression has been unbelievable,” he said.

The Grade 2 strain in Trout’s right calf has not completely healed. He’s able to swing a bat without pain, but quick movements while running are causing lingering difficulty. Rejoining the Angels as a DH isn’t an option for Trout unless Ohtani moves to the outfield, so he will need to be cleared to play center field before returning.

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