Shohei Ohtani’s Yankee Stadium debut — his home had the Yankees had their way — arrived with plenty of hype, and justifiably so.
Joe Maddon described his swing as “Ruthian.” Gerrit Cole called his two-way ability “historic.” Aaron Boone simply marveled that his skill set is “something none of us have really ever seen.”
Shohei Ohtani arrived at Yankee Stadium— his home had the Yankees had their way — with plenty of hype, and justifiably so.
He quickly backed it up, too, homering deep into right-centerfield in his first at-bat against Michael King on Monday night.
The Angels’ dynamic right-hander/designated hitter is in the midst of a historic season, among the sport’s leaders in home runs (26), RBIs (60) and OPS (1.046). On the mound, the 6-foot-4 phenom from Japan is just as impressive, notching a 2.58 ERA in 11 starts across 59 ¹/₃ innings while striking out 82 batters. He’s drawn comparisons to Babe Ruth.
Following Tommy John surgery in October 2018, Ohtani didn’t pitch in 2019. In last year’s abbreviated season, he made just two starts. But this year, he’s back to doing both, just as he was in 2018, when in 104 games, he posted a .925 OPS, went deep 22 times and had a 3.31 ERA and struck out 63 over 10 starts and 51 ²/₃ innings pitched.
As an Astro, Cole got to see Ohtani up close that first year, as both a hitter and a pitcher. He felt then Ohtani should focus on offense and relieve to maximize his potential, particularly after needing surgery.
“He’s proven [me] wrong,” Cole told The Post before the Yankees opened a four-game series with the Angels in The Bronx. “All the power to him. … Just really an amazing talent. What he’s doing this year is obviously historic.”
The high-90’s fastball and the long home runs are what everyone sees on Ohtani’s almost-nightly highlights. They are instant social media hits. But Maddon thinks there is so much more to his star than his impressive power. He has stolen 11 bases in 14 attempts this year, and owns a .363 on-base percentage, a high number for a power hitter. He doesn’t move like a slugger. He glides. He can bunt. He’ll adjust on the mound.
“An incredible feel for this game, the ability to adapt on the fly,” Maddon said. “But I would hope you would appreciate how he moves.”
This week, Yankees fans will get their first live glimpse at this baseball marvel — and a painful reminder of what could have been.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Zach Braziller