Shohei Ohtani
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Shohei Ohtani hits record-breaking home run

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Hours after Angels’ slugger/pitcher Shohei Ohtani told reporters he intended to finish out the year as the club’s designated hitter, the 24-year-old wunderkind hammered his 19th home run of the season to set a new record for Japanese rookie ballplayers in MLB.

The blast came on an 0-2 fastball from left-hander Carlos Rodon and scored David Fletcher and Mike Trout to cap a four-run spread in the third inning of Friday’s game against the White Sox. It’s also Ohtani’s fourth home run this month: He hit one out during Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Rangers and returned for another pair of dingers the following day.

Per MLB.com’s Max Gelman, the talented DH is the first Japanese rookie to record 19 or more home runs in MLB history. The previous record-holder, former Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima, collected 18 homers during his first major-league campaign in 2006. What he managed to do in 139 games during his age-30 season, Ohtani has accomplished over just 83 games in his age-23 season.

The historic home run followed Ohtani’s announcement earlier in the day, when he told reporters that he has yet to make a decision regarding an impending Tommy John procedure on his right elbow. He’s currently weighing the pros and cons of undergoing the surgery and is expected to make a final decision sometime during the offseason. Additional comments revealed that he would like to retain his status as a two-way player once he’s fully recovered from the injury and able to pitch again; until that becomes a possibility, he’ll stay on as the Angels’ lefty DH in 2018 and appears likely to return in a limited role for the club in 2019 as well.

Report: Red Sox to sign Zack Godley

Red Sox sign Zack Godley
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Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com reports that the Red Sox are nearing an agreement with pitcher Zack Godley. It is still unclear whether the contract will be of the minor or major league variety.

Godley, 30, was with the Tigers on a minor league contract but the club released him in early April. The right-hander pitched for the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays last season, amassing 92 innings with a 5.97 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio. Godley was quite solid for the D-Backs in 2017, posting a 3.37 ERA over 155 innings, so the Red Sox are hoping to see that version of him.

The Red Sox need starting pitching depth with Chris Sale out for the year due to Tommy John surgery and Eduardo Rodríguez sidelined because of a positive COVID-19 test. Collin McHugh is also still on the mend from an elbow injury. The starting rotation at the moment includes Nathan Eovaldi, Martín Pérez, Ryan Weber, and Brian Johnson. It is certainly the club’s biggest weakness.

The Red Sox open up the 2020 regular season at home against the Orioles on July 24. Eovaldi would seem to be the one to get the Opening Day nod. Godley could slot in anywhere else in the rotation, from No. 2 to 5.