One of many many delights of the World Baseball Traditional is that it typically gives matchups that in any other case would go unseen. From an American perspective, typically these are between gamers who’re longtime teammates in Main League Baseball. To wit, essentially the most intriguing “forbidden fruit” matchup this WBC was the potential of Shohei Ohtani pitching to Mike Trout, his Los Angeles Angels teammate, as a part of a possible late-stage contest between Japan and Group USA.
Sadly, it doesn’t appear like mentioned matchup can be on the desk — and that isn’t simply because Group USA’s blowout loss to Mexico on Sunday harmed their probabilities of advancing past pool play. Slightly, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reported on Sunday that the plan for Ohtani includes him returning to the Angels for an exhibition begin on March 24. Stated begin would put him in line to take the ball on March 30, MLB‘s Opening Day.
“That’s what I’ve understood,” Angels supervisor Phil Nevin instructed Fletcher. “He’ll pitch the quarterfinal sport, then he’d be obtainable for us that Friday (March 24) once they come again, no matter what occurs. Friday was the day he wished to throw to prepare for Oakland.”
Ohtani, for his half, appeared unaware of the plan when he was requested about Nevin’s feedback. “No, we haven’t spoken in any respect, so nothing’s determined but,” he told reporters in Japan.
Japan gained Pool B in dominating trend, successful all 4 contests and by a mean of greater than seven runs. They’ll subsequent play on March 16, once they tackle Italy, the runner-up in Pool A. One other win would ship Japan to the semifinals, the place they’d go well with up once more on March 20. Alas, Ohtani can be unable to pitch in that sport (or within the championship last) with out compromising the aforementioned plan to have him begin on March 24.
It’s attainable that plans change, however given the importance MLB groups place on their very own seasons, and given the loaded nature of Japan’s rotation — in addition they have Yu Darvish, Roki Sasaki, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto — the chances look like very a lot towards Ohtani pitching to Trout this March.
Now, with that established, we really feel obligated to notice that the dream may not be executed for that matchup taking place someday this 12 months. In spite of everything, the Angels are scheduled to play the New York Mets (however not the Los Angeles Dodgers) in August, nicely after the commerce deadline. Ought to the Angels fall out of competition by late July, it’s no less than attainable that Ohtani and Trout will discover themselves clashing, albeit with the previous carrying new threads.