NEW YORK (AP) — Shohei Ohtani homered at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, 100 years to the day Babe Ruth hit the first home run at the original ballpark in the Bronx.
Ohtani turned on a 88.7 mph sweeper from Clarke Schmidt and hit a 116.7 mph drive that landed in the Yankees bullpen in right-center, 391 feet from home plate. It was Ohtani’s fourth home run of the season and eighth in 18 games against the Yankees gave the Los Angeles Angels a 2-0 first-inning lead.
When the original Yankee Stadium opened across 161st St. on April 18, 1923, Ruth capped a four-run third inning with a three-run homer off Boston’s Howard Ehmke in New York’s 4-1 win over the Red Sox.
Ohtani took a rare round of on-field batting practice before the game in nearly empty Yankee Stadium, a more modern version that replaced the old ballpark in 2009. He is baseball’s most famous two-way player since Ruth, and last year became the first player in major league history to qualify as both a batter and a pitcher in the same season.
Before the game, the Angels said he will make his next mound start in Friday night’s homestand opener against the Kansas City Royals.
The two-way Japanese star threw just two innings and 31 pitches in Monday’s start at Boston before his outing was cut short by an 85-minute rain delay.
“We kind of look at this as a lengthy bullpen,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said Tuesday. “Just get him right back out there. And it makes sense if you line it up with some travel days.”
Ohtani is 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA in four starts, striking out 27 and walking 13 in 21 innings. He entered a series opener at Yankee Stadium with a .298 batting average and nine RBIs.
Angels infielder David Fletcher was assigned outright to Salt Lake, removing him from the 40-man roster three days after he was optioned to the Triple-A farm team.
“He’s a big part of what we’ve done and what we think we’re going to go in the future,” Nevin said. “He’s just got to get out there and play, get back to what Fletch was. I realize that comes with consistent at-bats and I told him that. Part of that’s on me. He didn’t play a lot when he was here, and I’m the one that makes the lineup.”
Los Angeles brought up 22-year-old Zach Neto last weekend. the first player to make the major leagues from last year’s amateur draft, after Fletcher hit .125 (2 for 16) with one RBI with the Angels.
“He easily can get back in that mix, without a doubt,” Nevin said. “It’s just going to take some time.”
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