Where EAST meets the Northwest
TWO-WAY STAR. Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, right, advances to
second base on a wild pitch as San Diego Padres second baseman Carlos Asuaje,
left, fields the throw during the third inning of a spring training baseball
game in Peoria, Arizona. Two-way star Ohtani had a much better big-league debut
as a hitter than he did as a pitcher. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
From The Asian Reporter, V28, #5 (March 5, 2018), page 7.
Ohtani has RBI single, two walks in debut at plate for Angels
By Bernie Wilson
The Associated Press
PEORIA, Ariz. ó Two-way star Shohei Ohtani had a much better big-league debut
as a hitter than he did as a pitcher.
After patiently drawing walks in his first two plate appearances, Ohtani hit
a sharp RBI single up the middle in his first spring training start as a
designated hitter for the Los Angeles Angels.
"I was happy to get that first hit out of the way, but I was also happy with
my first two at-bats," the 23-year-old said through a translator after getting
on base three times against three different San Diego Padres pitchers. "I got to
see a lot of pitches and I got to face a righty and a lefty. I felt like I put
together pretty good at-bats the first two walks."
Thatís why the lefty-hitting phenom was able to be aggressive in his third
at-bat, when he hit the first pitch he saw from righty Michael Mariot for a
single that brought in Eric Young Jr., who had doubled with one out.
"One of the reasons why I was able to see so many pitches in the first two
at-bats was I just wanted to feel the difference in the strike zones between
Japan and the States," Ohtani said. "I felt like I kind of accomplished that,
plus I just wanted to be aggressive on the first pitch."
After his single, Ohtani was lifted for a pinch-runner and received a nice
round of applause from the fans at Peoria Stadium, which was less than half
Ohtani saw 11 pitches his first two times up and swung at only two.
Batting second, he fell behind 0-2 against right-hander Jordan Lyles before
drawing four straight balls in the first inning. He advanced on David Fletcherís
single and was erased on Martin Maldonadoís inning-ending double play.
Ohtani walked again in the third inning against lefty Buddy Bauman and took
second on a wild pitch, beating the throw with an awkward slide.
The Angels lost 4-10 as the Padres hit five home runs, including an
inside-the-parker by Franchy Cordero.
Ohtaniís first Cactus League at-bats came two days after his first start on
the mound. The Japanese newcomer allowed a home run and didnít make it through
his scheduled two innings against Milwaukee.
Ohtani said he wasnít nervous.
"Actually, it felt really natural going into my first at-bat. I was able to
see the ball really well," he said.
"I was able to see a lot of pitches, so that was really good. I just want to
keep it going. Iím seeing the ball pretty well so hopefully I can have better
Ohtani is trying to become the first player in nearly 100 years to play
regularly as a pitcher and hitter.
Asked if hitting is ahead of his pitching, he said: "I think this goes for
almost any player, I think my hitting is always ahead of my pitching at this
point of the year, just like any other year."
Ohtani spent five seasons with the Nippon Ham Fighters before signing with
the Angels as an international free agent on December 10. The Angels paid a $20
million posting fee to the Ham Fighters. Ohtani, who will be under the Angelsí
contractual control for six years, signed a minor league contract and can
receive up to $2,315,000 in international bonus money from the Angels.
Ohtani likely could have received a deal worth more than $100 million if he
had waited two years to move stateside, but he wasnít interested in delaying his
progress for money.
"He saw the ball really well," manager Mike Scioscia said. "I definitely like
the two walks. It was a good day for Shohei."
As much as Ohtani needs to understand how big league pitchers can exploit the
strike zone and hit their spots, "right now itís really just get your feet on
the ground, seeing some velocity," Scioscia said. "Thatís three good at-bats for
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