Shohei Ohtani made the Angels and will likely hit before he pitches

It’s official. Shohei Ohtani has made the Los Angeles Angels opening day roster. In a somewhat unexpected twist though, it appears likely the two-way star will make his hitting debut before throwing his first pitch in an MLB game.

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Ohtani, who signed a minor-league deal with the Angels in December, was officially added to the Angels 40-man roster after Tuesday’s final exhibition game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. That outcome was expected all along. However, the smart money seemed to be on Ohtani serving as the Angels starting pitcher on Friday or Saturday in Oakland.

Instead, manager Mike Scioscia says Ohtani will start on Sunday, which is the final game of a four-game weekend series against the Oakland Athletics. That opens the door for Ohtani to serve as the designated hitter or even a pinch-hitter early in the series, and MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar says Scioscia hasn’t yet closed that door.

Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs and Matt Shoemaker will be the first three men up in the Angels’ rotation.

In an effort to make Ohtani’s transition a little smoother, the Angels are planning to go with a six-man rotation to begin the season. That would put Ohtani on track to make his home debut the following Sunday against the same A’s team. That strategy would also allow Ohtani to serve as designated hitter two or three times a week.

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Shohei Ohtani during Spring Training
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Shohei Ohtani during Spring Training
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 27: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani looks on before an exhibition MLB game between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 27, 2018 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ - MARCH 12: Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels is seen prior to the spring training game between Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Angels on March 12, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ - MARCH 12: Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels is seen during a spring training game between Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Angels on March 12, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ -MARCH 09: Shohei Ohtani of Los Angeles Angels pitches during the practice game against the Tijuana Toros of the Mexican League on March 9, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ -MARCH 09: Shohei Ohtani of Los Angeles Angels is seen during the practice game against the Tijuana Toros of the Mexican League on March 9, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ -MARCH 09: Shohei Ohtani of Los Angeles Angels pitches during the practice game against the Tijuana Toros of the Mexican League on March 9, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 06: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels reacts in the dugout during the spring training game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 6, 2018 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ - MARCH 12: Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels bats during a spring training game between Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Angels on March 12, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ -MARCH 09: Shohei Ohtani of Los Angeles Angels is seen during the practice game against the Tijuana Toros of the Mexican League on March 9, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ -MARCH 09: Shohei Ohtani of Los Angeles Angels in action during the practice game against the Tijuana Toros of the Mexican League on March 9, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
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There have been several bumps in the road, and the truth is there are still more questions than answers concerning how Ohtani’s skills will translate to Major League Baseball. Ohtani made just two starts in big league games during spring training, allowing eight earned runs on nine hits, three of which were home runs. That amounts to a 27.00 ERA.

As a hitter, Ohtani has been even less convincing. He finished the Cactus League 3-for-28 (.107). Scouts have told Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan that Ohtani might need another 500 at-bats in the minor leagues to adequately develop his hitting.

Throughout it all, Ohtani has remained upbeat. The Angels have maintained a positive outlook too, noting that the process during spring training was more important than the results. Even with Ohtani’s debut looking different that we originally imagined, nothing about that appears to have changed. But the unavoidable reality is that his results are about to matter a whole lot more starting this weekend.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Yahoo Sports Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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