All eyes this season will be on Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels’ new two-way star who can touch triple digits with his fastball and hit 400-foot home runs. But he’s not the only pitcher in the American League West who can swing a bat.
Until coming over to the Mariners in a trade last season, right-handed pitcher Mike Leake spent almost eight seasons in the National League, where he proved he is anything but an automatic out at the plate. The 30-year-old Leake has a career .200 batting average with six home runs, something that no doubt will come in handy when Seattle plays interleague games this year.
On Thursday, Leake admitted to 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore that as a Mariner he will miss getting to hit as much as he did in the NL.
“When I was going through the process of the trade with St. Louis, that was definitely something I was considering. I do enjoy hitting. It’s a fun part of baseball, but I guess I have to get better at pitching,” he quipped.
Leake, who previously played with the Cardinals, Giants and Reds, spoke on why baseball doesn’t see more pitchers who are competent in the batter’s box and why that makes Ohtani’s arrival in America so exciting.
“Because each side demands so much, I think. Pitching demands so much and then hitting demands so much,” said the former Arizona State University standout who went straight from college to the majors. “Most kids growing up I think they become more specialized, per se, so you’re not gonna get two-way players that can do it. But I do think it’s a very nice thing to see with Ohtani getting in the picture and hopefully it promotes a few more players that can do it.”
In Leake’s interview with Danny, Dave and Moore, he also covered how he became a Mariners fan as a kid despite growing up in San Diego as well as how he adjusted his pitching style to Safeco Field. You can listen to a clip above or find the full segment in this podcast.