BALTIMORE — Shohei Ohtani is emerging as the face of Major League Baseball in 2021, and he’ll be a focal point of All-Star Week in Denver.
The Angels’ two-way phenom leads the major leagues with 33 home runs, many of them of the prodigious third- and fourth-deck variety, and Monday he was named the starting pitcher for the American League in Tuesday’s All-Star Game As players often like to say, that’s cool.
But White Sox right-hander Lance Lynn is one AL All-Star who isn’t warming up to the idea.
“I mean, half the innings as anybody else, to start the game is probably not the best [choice] among the players,” Lynn told the Sun-Times. “There are quite a few people who’ve had better first halves, for sure.”
Ohtani, voted in as a DH and selected by the players as a pitcher — the first player named an All-Star as both position player and pitcher — is 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA in 13 starts over 67 innings. Lynn is 9-3 with a 1.99 ERA in 16 starts over 90 2/3 innings, and Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon is 7-3 with a 2.31 ERA over 89 2/3 innings. Lynn’s ERA and 214 ERA+ lead the AL.
“I’ll put my name in the hat, for sure,” Lynn said.
So will Rodon.
“Oh, yeah. Of course I would,” Rodon said. “Wouldn’t you?”
“Whatever happens, happens. Hopefully it’s me or Lance. We’ll see.”
Lynn, 34, was an All-Star in 2012. Ohtani has pitched more than half the innings of the other starter candidates, but Lynn’s point is well taken. Ohtani is averaging five innings per start. His pizzazz, however, lies in being a very good pitcher and leading the majors in homers and slugging percentage.
“He’s hitting home runs and he’s doing the Home Run Derby,” Lynn said, “but MLB obviously wants to do their thing and it is a game that means nothing now. So whatever makes the fans happy.”
Lynn and Rodon haven’t been given any indication about who might start.
“You don’t know,” Lynn said. “When you think you’ve figured it out, MLB does something different. We’ll have to wait and see on that one.”
Lynn also said he would rather wear a White Sox uniform than the team uniforms players are wearing this year. In half a season, he has made a connection to the South Side, and he would rather show the Sox’ -colors in Denver.
“Most definitely. When you’re looking at the team you play for, and you’re able to represent them with the jersey, I feel like it would be a cooler feeling if you were wearing the natural jersey you wear during the year,” he said. “I don’t even know what that is.”
Lynn, Rodon, closer Liam Hendriks and shortstop Tim Anderson will represent the Sox. Lynn would like to see four of them lined up for pregame introductions in Sox colors. Unless one of them is the starter warming up in the bullpen, of course.
“It’s cool to have an All-Star jersey, but that’s what the Home Run Derby and workout day is for,” he said.
In any event, “It should be fun,” Lynn said. “My kids are older, so you can have more fun. When you’re young, it’s hectic. When you’ve been around a little bit, you can enjoy it more.”
“It’s an honor and something you dream of as a kid,” Rodon said. “It’s nice to finally achieve that.”