Shohei Ohtani on Home Run Derby: 'I don't think I'm at that level yet'

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Invitations to the Home Run Derby won't go out for another month or so, but that hasn't stopped reporters from asking Los Angeles Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani if he'd be interested in taking part.

Ohtani, the two-way star, got his fourth win of the season Sunday. He went 7 innings, striking out nine. After the game, Ohtani was asked whether he'd thought about being in the derby on July 16 at Nationals Park in Washington.

"I don't think I'm at that level yet," Ohtani said. "I'm honored to be in that conversation."

Ohtani has six home runs in 84 at-bats as a part-time DH. The most recent homer came Thursday, when he took a pitch by Rays right-hander Austin Pruitt out to center field. His batting-practice displays have also made a mark. Before Friday's game in Anaheim, Ohtani launched a blast that hit the right-field video board, a distance the team estimated as 519 feet.

Manager Mike Scioscia said Saturday that Ohtani is free to participate in the derby if he is asked.

"That's a player's decision," Scioscia said. "I'm sure there's going to be a lot of things that come into what a player decides, but it's always been the prerogative of a player if he wants to participate in things like that."

If he participates, it won't be Ohtani's first derby -- he won Japan's home run derby in 2016.

The Home Run Derby will be broadcast on ESPN.

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