Shohei Ohtani
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Shohei Ohtani hits record-breaking home run


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’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.

Nick Pivetta to rejoin Phillies’ rotation

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Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Nick Pivetta will rejoin the Phillies’ rotation, starting Tuesday’s series opener at home against the Cardinals. Vince Velasquez will remain in the bullpen.

Pivetta, 26, allowed 17 earned runs on 31 hits and eight walks with 16 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings across his first four starts of the season. The performance resulted in a demotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In six starts there, Pivetta had a much better 3.41 ERA with a 50/20 K/BB ratio in 37 innings of work.

Velasquez, 26, was solid as a starter, posting a 3.99 ERA across six starts. However, he averaged under five innings and 92 pitches per start. The right-hander tossed two scoreless innings out of the bullpen on Friday against the Brewers but was torched for four runs in two-thirds of an inning on Sunday. Mixed results, to say the least. The Phillies are trying to do what they can with their bullpen, currently missing David Robertson, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek, and Vìctor Arano.