Sports

Shohei Ohtani homers as Shogo Akiyama misses Reds’ Opening Day roster


Two-way star Shohei Ohtani ripped his third home run of spring training Sunday for the Los Angeles Angels, while Cincinnati Reds outfielder Shogo Akiyama was not named on the Opening Day roster.

Batting first as the designated hitter, 2021 American League MVP Ohtani drove a 2-1 changeup from Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler in the fifth inning over the right-center wall for a solo shot before a crowd of 44,000 at Angel Stadium.

The Angels won 5-1 as Ohtani went 1-for-3 on the day. The flame-thrower was named the Opening Day pitcher for the first time in his five big-league seasons ahead of the game against the Houston Astros on April 7.

Akiyama, meanwhile, has a decision to make ahead of his final season of a three-year deal with Cincinnati.

“There’s not much time with Opening Day approaching, but I’ll try to make a decision that I won’t come to regret,” said Akiyama, who has options, including playing for Triple-A Louisville or moving to another team, possibly one in Nippon Professional Baseball.

The former Seibu Lions outfielder earned a regular leadoff spot for the Reds in his first year in 2020 playing left field, logging a .357 on-base percentage during the pandemic-hit 60-game season.

But his batting average was .204 last year following a preseason injury, and he could not find his form during this year’s spring training either, batting just .182 after going 4-for-22 in seven games.

“He just didn’t get a ton of opportunities to play. We know he can play this game,” Reds manager David Bell said on MLB.com. “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he lands somewhere and gets an opportunity to help a Major League team win.”

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