At this point, the story is known of Shohei Ohtani’s talents as a two-way star in Japan. There are still questions, however, to how that would translate to Major League Baseball, especially in the National League.
“He played outfield in Japan, he’s very athletic, he’s got quick feet, a very athletic body, he’ll service well in the outfield,” Giants GM Bobby Evans said Wednesday on the Garry & Larry Show.
Ohtani actually has not played in the outfield since 2014. He only played eight games between left and right field in 2014 and has only played 62 career games in the outfield in five seasons as a pro. The 23-year-old also dealt with a lower leg injury in 2017.
[GALLERY: The file on Shohei Ohtani]
“He did have some lower leg injuries as well as only pitched 25 innings last year, so it will be a build up physically,” Evans said. “For whatever club he plays for he’ll have to build back up.”
This past season, Ohtani played in 65 games as a DH, hitting .332 with eight home runs. On the hill, he tossed 25.1 innings and went 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA.
If the Giants do indeed sign Ohtani, they have said there’s a plan to get him 300 to 400 at-bats. At what position in the outfield, is not yet clear, even for Evans.
“It ultimately depends on our outfield makeup, but we see his ability to play all three (positions),” Evans said. “That’s very flexible for us. There’s certainly advantages to left field in our left field, but we’re not pigeon-holing him to one spot right now.”
As a pitcher, Ohtani has never tossed more than 160 innings in a season. He took the mound every seven days in Japan compared to MLB pitchers toeing the rubber every five. Expect a schedule much like Ohtani is used to in Japan if he joins the Giants’ staff.
“He’s been starting once a week in Japan, so he starts every seventh day,” Evans said. “It’s a little different over there so I don’t know that you would expect him to come over here and start every fifth day.
“Our kids, even in the minor leagues, we don’t start them but every six days so I wouldn’t expect him to come over here and pitch a whole lot more frequently than he did over there.”
The wait continues to see where the prospect considered the Babe Ruth of Japan will ultimately begin his career in the majors.