NEW YORK — Shohei Ohtani achieved a first in the near century history of baseball’s All-Star Game: selection as both a position player and a pitcher.
The Los Angeles Angels’ two-way sensation was among the starting pitchers picked Sunday for the American League staff for the July 13 showcase at Denver’s Coors Field. Ohtani, who leads the majors in home runs, had already been elected by fans to start for the AL at designated hitter.
Boston has the most All-Stars for the first time since 2009, sending five. Designated hitter J.D. Martinez, starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and reliever Matt Barnes were chosen to join a pair of starters: shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers.
Houston and Toronto have four All-Stars each.
Ohtani received 121 votes in balloting by players, managers and coaches announced three days after fan-elected starters were revealed.
“The guy’s going to participate in Home Run Derby, pitch in the game and hit in the game. That doesn’t happen like ever,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said after speaking with AL manager Kevin Cash of Tampa Bay. “So this is the one time ... even the non-baseball fan can really latch onto this and become interested.”
Babe Ruth’s pitching days were largely behind him by the time the All-Star Game started in 1933. Ruth made one pitching appearance that year, the final one of his career on the last day of the season. He last pitched with regularity in 1919.
Ohtani began Sunday with a .278 batting average, a major league-leading 30 home runs and 66 RBIs along with a 3-1 record and a 3.60 ERA in 12 starts on the mound to go with 83 strikeouts in 60 innings.
He was joined by fellow starting pitchers Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees (272 votes), and Lance Lynn (199) and Carlos Rodón (192) of the Chicago White Sox.
Cleveland’s Shane Bieber (189) also was elected but is hurt and will miss the game along with Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who was elected to start, and Washington outfielder Kyle Schwarber, who was picked as a reserve.