Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Just when the baseball world thought it had seen it all from Shohei Ohtani, the superstar had another trick up his sleeve as he called his own pitches in the Angels’ season opener against the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.
Ohtani started his second consecutive Opening Day for the Angels and he did so by using the PitchCom device, with a bit of a twist. Instead of the catcher relaying the pitch calls to Ohtani, now it is the other way around.
The 2021 AL MVP keeps the device under his jersey, close to his left shoulder, according to ESPN’s Tim Keown.
He’s using PitchCom to help combat the challenges of the new pitch clock, which allows a pitcher just 15 seconds to begin their throwing motion.
“Shohei’s got so many pitches he can throw,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said ahead of the game. “So for him to go through ’em and shake and shake and shake—time’s running out because that thing doesn’t say it quick enough sometimes.”
Ohtani isn’t the only player in the league adopting this system, however. His own teammate, reliever Ryan Tepera, is doing the same.
But instead of keeping the device on his wrist or forearm so he can see the keypad, Ohtani had to memorize where every number was on the device so he could get the right call through.
This is a new change as MLB only approved pitchers being able to use PitchCom last Friday.
It’ll be interesting to see how much this new system affects Ohtani, who was one the league’s most dominant pitchers last season as he finished with a 2.33 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and was fourth in the AL CY Young vote.