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Shohei Ohtani to make MLB pitching debut Sunday for Angels

Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani works against the Milwaukee Brewers during the first inning of a spring training baseball game, in Tempe, Ariz. (Ben Margot / AP)
Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani works against the Milwaukee Brewers during the first inning of a spring training baseball game, in Tempe, Ariz. (Ben Margot / AP)
By Jill Painter Lopez Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – Two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani is scheduled to make his major league pitching debut Sunday when he starts for the Los Angeles Angels in their fourth game of the season at Oakland.

The much-hyped Japanese star is expected to be the team’s designated hitter in at least one of the first three games, but it’s unclear if that will happen in the opener on Thursday.

“We haven’t determined our opening-day lineup yet,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Tuesday night.

The 23-year-old Ohtani, who struggled in spring training, was told after Tuesday’s exhibition game against the Dodgers that he’ll pitch Sunday.

Asked what he expects from Ohtani in his first start, Scioscia said: “He’s gotten into the mid-80-pitch range and should be able to get over 90 if he’s throwing to his capabilities. That’s plenty of pitches for him to get deep into the game. We’re going to take it one pitch at a time with all of our pitchers.”

Ohtani was supposed to get an at-bat or two on Tuesday night but that didn’t happen because the game was called in the bottom of the fifth inning due to a foul-smelling leak that spilled sewage onto the Dodger Stadium field near the home dugout.

The Angels play their home opener Monday against Cleveland. They plan to use a six-man rotation this season, but won’t need to open that way.

“We’re at five starters and we’ll eventually be at six,” Scioscia said. “As far as how everything was lining up, there were definitely some things we were looking at as far as how we started out of the gate. The thing about the starting rotation, especially this year, is that we’re going to be flexible and fluid.”

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