Angels star Ohtani makes history by hitting for cycle

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Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani hits a triple against the Tampa Bay Rays en route to making history as the first Japanese player to hit for the cycle in Major League Baseball (AFP Photo/Mike Carlson)
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Los Angeles (AFP) - Shohei Ohtani batted four-for-four to became the first Japanese-born player to hit for the cycle in Major League Baseball as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 on Thursday.

The 24-year-old Ohtani made history with a single to centre field in the seventh inning to cap the cycle -- when a batter hits a home run, triple, double and single in a game.

"I wasn't necessarily trying to hit a single," he said through a translator. "I was just trying to get on base, whether it was a base on balls or any other way because it was still a close game."

Ohtani blasted a three-run home run in the first inning and doubled to lead off the third inning of the game in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Ohtani recorded his first triple of the season in the fifth inning.

Ohtani became the seventh Angels player to hit for the cycle, joining Jim Fregosi, Dan Ford, Dave Winfield, Jeff DaVanon, Chone Figgins and Mike Trout.

Ohtani homered to left-centre field on a 1-1 sinker ball from Rays pitcher Ryan Yarbrough with two teammates already on base. It was his eighth home run of the season.

The two-way player Ohtani also continues to progress in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, and he could throw from a mound before the all-star break.

"He's getting close," manager Brad Ausmus said. "I don't know the exact date but I would say weeks, assuming everything goes well."

Ohtani underwent surgery on his right elbow in October.

Ohtani was selected as the American League rookie of the year in 2018. He went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA in 10 starts as a pitcher, and he batted .285, hammered 22 homers and hit 61 RBIs.