Japan's World Baseball Classic MVP Shohei Ohtani is on course to be the Los Angeles Angels' Opening Day starter for the second straight year and is set to pitch in a preseason game Friday, according to Angels manager Phil Nevin.
Opening Day appearances are unlikely, however, for San Diego Padres right-hander Yu Darvish, following his WBC endeavor with Japan, and injured Chicago Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki, their respective managers said Wednesday.
Two-way star Ohtani is expected to face a minor league team three days after he sealed Japan's third WBC title by striking out his Angels teammate Mike Trout in an epic 3-2 final win over the United States in Florida.
"Friday is Shohei's pitch day to get ready for Opening Day, and he's going to be just fine," Nevin said following discussions with Ohtani.
The manager was understandably excited with the fairytale matchup between his two star players, stating "there's no other sport that can build that kind of drama."
Darvish is unlikely to make his third consecutive Opening Day start, according to Padres skipper Bob Melvin, as he joined Japan's training camp in mid-February and is yet to pitch in MLB preseason games.
While pointing out that Darvish was throwing 70 pitches in the bullpen in January and will not take too long to get ready, Melvin said he would first like to see the veteran, who led the team with 16 wins last season, pitch in a preseason game.
Suzuki, who missed the WBC due to left oblique tightness suffered in late February, is expected to remain at the Cubs' spring training base in Arizona and rack up enough batting practice, Cubs manager David Ross said.
Suzuki, who gave advice over the course of the WBC to sluggers Munetaka Murakami and Kazuma Okamoto, Japan's home-run hitters in the final, said his condition is "on the up."