Daily Camera (Boulder)

Ohtani lands special award

Angels’ star honored before Game 1 of Series

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HOUSTON — Shohei Ohtani’s two-way All-star season with the Los Angeles Angels was so unpreceden­ted that Major League Baseball Commission­er Rob Manfred presented a special award to recognize it.

Ohtani was given the Commission­er’s Historic Achievemen­t Award by Manfred before Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night.

“Over the next few years, I know that there are going to be many, many awards and accolades that come your way,” Manfred said, with Ohtani sitting next to him. “But I felt that 2021 was so special that it was important to recognize the historic achievemen­t that took place in 2021 with an award just about 2021.”

Ohtani is the 16th recipient of the honor, and the first since Manfred succeeded Bud Selig as commission­er in 2015.

Ohtani had 46 home runs, 100 RBIS and 26 stolen bases this season, his fourth in the majors after playing in his native Japan. In 23 starts on the mound, he was 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA while striking out 156 batters.

The 27-year-old Ohtani is the most

accomplish­ed two-way player since Babe Ruth, who last pitched regularly in 1919. Ohtani was the first two-way starter in the history of the All-star Game, which began in 1933. While pitching for the American League, he also batted in the leadoff spot after being elected by fans to start at designated hitter.

“It’s really an unbelievab­le set of accomplish­ments,” Manfred said.

“This award is not given out every year, so I know how special it is,” Ohtani said through his translator. “I’m not fully sure if I really deserve it, but since Mr. Manfred’s going to give it to me, I’m going to accept it.”

Manfred quickly responded that Ohtani did deserve it.

Selig created the honor in 1998 to commemorat­e Cal Ripken Jr.’s record streak of 2,632 consecutiv­e games played. The last time it had been presented was in 2014: to Vin Scully for his 65 years as a baseball broadcaste­r, and to Derek Jeter, for his postseason records for hits (200), runs (111) and total bases (302).

After missing all of 2019 on the mound following Tommy John surgery, and pitching only twice last season, Ohtani threw 130L innings this year. The right-hander had thrown only 53 innings in 12 major league starts before this season, 10 of those as a rookie in 2018.

Ohtani said he never felt tired or exhausted and was already ready to get going with his offseason workouts and throwing program.

“I think the biggest thing I could take from this season was that I was able to finish the season without getting hurt or being on the IL,” he said. “So this experience is definitely going to help me out going forward.”

Asked about his confidence in being able to maintain his level of play, Ohtani said he feels “pretty confident” that he could repeat what he did this year.

“It’s really extraordin­ary to find a human being who can perform at the highest level in Major League Baseball as both a pitcher and a position player. It takes courage and fortitude not to make the choice that players traditiona­lly make (to be a pitcher or hitter), and it takes tremendous endurance to do both over the course of what is a grueling 162-game schedule,” Manfred said. “In 2021, that extraordin­ary person came to us, and it was Shohei Ohtani.”

 ?? Bob Levey / Getty Images ?? MLB commission­er Rob Manfred, right, presents Shohei Ohtani with the Commission­er’s Historic Achievemen­t Award on Tuesday.
Bob Levey / Getty Images MLB commission­er Rob Manfred, right, presents Shohei Ohtani with the Commission­er’s Historic Achievemen­t Award on Tuesday.
 ?? Jayne Kamin-oncea / Getty Images ?? The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani hits a home run against the Tigers on June 18 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.
Jayne Kamin-oncea / Getty Images The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani hits a home run against the Tigers on June 18 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.

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