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Halos’ Ohtani expected to face Mariners’ Kikuchi on Saturday

Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, heads to first with a single during the fourth inning of the team's baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on Thursday, June 6, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani’s first major league showdown with Yusei Kikuchi is expected to happen this weekend.

Los Angeles Angels manager Brad Ausmus said Thursday he expects Ohtani to be in the lineup when Kikuchi pitches for the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium on Saturday night.

The matchup would pit the Angels’ AL Rookie of the Year against the Mariners’ new left-hander for the first time in the majors. They faced each other five times in Japan’s top league.

Ohtani often gets days off against left-handed pitchers, but Ausmus said his designated hitter “probably will” hit against Kikuchi this weekend, “unless something happens between now and then.”

Ausmus disappointed many Japanese fans last week when he kept Ohtani out of the lineup in Seattle while the Angels faced Kikuchi.

Ohtani wasn’t yet back from Tommy John surgery when Kikuchi faced the Angels for the first time April 20.

The 24-year-old Ohtani and the 27-year-old Kikuchi attended the same high school in Japan, but never played on the same team.

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