Detroit — Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire was asked about the logistical difficulties for a manager with a player like Angels' Shohei Ohtani, who is a starting pitcher and a designated hitter.
He almost spit out his gum.
“I would love to have that problem,” he said. “It would be a fun problem to have and work through. A guy who can throw like he can and swing it? Every manager would love to have that problem. I feel sad for Mike Scioscia (Angels manager), really sad.”
Ohtani and the Angels come to Detroit Monday for a four-game series. Ohtani is tentatively scheduled to start on Wednesday. He will also likely DH one of the games.
“This game continues to change,” Gardenhire said. “We haven’t had too many guys like that, who can pitch and hit. I am anxious to see him, and I think we’re going to get a chance to see both. Maybe it will be a new brand.
“Everybody starts hitting and pitching and we start signing these guys now. I will take him — a guy who can hit home runs and throw a no-hitter? What manager wouldn’t want that.”
Ohtani went into Sunday hitting .297 with six home runs, 20 RBIs and a .936 OPS. On the mound, he’s 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA in seven starts, with 52 strikeouts in 40⅓ innings. He has a 1.066 WHIP.
“It’ll be fun to see,” said Tigers starter Michael Fulmer, who hopes to face Ohtani the hitter in his start on Tuesday. “It’s what we all did as kids. It’s a kid’s game and he gets to carry it to the big leagues. It’s awesome.”
Fulmer, though, can’t fathom trying to take a regular spot in the lineup and still make his starts every fifth day.
“No way,” he said. “As much time as it takes me to recover between starts, I couldn’t imagine going to play a game in between. Now, in high school, yeah. I could throw 125 pitches and come back and play third base in the second game of a doubleheader.
“Honestly, it’s something everybody dreams of. I wanted to be a two-way player in college. I thought that would be the most awesome thing in the world.”
Not everybody dreamed of pitching and hitting in the big leagues.
“I pitched one year, when I was 12, and it didn’t go so hot,” said Tigers’ first baseman John Hicks. “So, that was never a dream for me.”
Hicks is looking forward to facing Ohtani the pitcher, though. From a pure challenge standpoint.
“Guys are hitting like one for sixty off his splitter,” Hicks said. “A lot of guys from over there (Japan), that’s their thing. I’ve talked to guys who have played in Japan and Korea and the first thing they said is, you’ve got to learn to hit a splitter.”
Ohtani isn’t the only draw in this series. Mike Trout is coming off a five-hit, 11-total bases performance against the Yankees. Also, former Tigers Justin Upton and Ian Kinsler will be back in town. Kinsler is struggling, hitting .182 in 38 games. Upton, who was named Tigers Player of the Year for 2017, will receive his award on Tuesday.
Tigers closer Shane Greene earned his 13th save on Sunday. But he also gave up his fifth home run of the season — in 24⅓ innings.
“I’ve got to keep the ball in the park,” Greene said. “Sometimes they pop it up and sometimes they hit it over the fence. I’ve got to get them to start popping it up.”
Last season, Greene allowed just six home runs in 67⅔ innings.
Around the horn
As noted by Fox Sports Detroit, Grayson Greiner’s double Sunday marked the 43rd straight game in which a Tigers hitter has rapped a two-bagger. That ties the club record established in 1924.
… Nick Castellanos singled in a run in the fifth inning Sunday. In 22 games in May, he’s hitting .341 with eight doubles, a triple, three home runs and 11 RBIs.
… Jeimer Candelario has reached base safely in 21 straight games.