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Where EAST meets the Northwest

PROMISING START. Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels hits a three-run triple during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals in Kansas City, Missouri. Whether hitting or pitching for the Los Angeles Angels, the rookie two-way sensation is raring to go and already wants to play more. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

EAGER ANGEL. Starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani of Japan throws for the Los Angeles Angels against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of a baseball game on April 8, 2018, in Anaheim, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

From The Asian Reporter, V28, #8 (April 16, 2018), pages 1 & 8.

Ohtani eager for more as Angels balance work for two-way star

By Stephen Hawkins

The Associated Press

Shohei Ohtani eagerly bounces into the cage when itís his turn during batting practice ó and then puts on an impressive show knocking balls high and deep into the outfield seats.

Whether hitting or pitching for the Los Angeles Angels, the rookie two-way sensation is raring to go and already wants to play more.

"He always says heís ready," manager Mike Scioscia said. "But right now weíre definitely going to protect him as much as we can."

While the 23-year-old from Japan has definitely lived up to the hype in the first couple weeks of the season, the Angels are trying to do a balancing act in managing the workload for Ohtani.

The right-handed pitcher with a fastball averaging about 99 mph, along with a nasty splitter and a biting slider, was 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA (Earned Run Average) and 18 strikeouts over 13 innings while allowing only four hits in his two starts on the mound. After retiring the final eight batters in his first start, he retired the first 19 in the next ó thatís 27 consecutive outs, equal to a nine-inning perfect game.

"I talk to the medical staff every day and they try to see how Iím doing, my strength level, to see if I can play that day," Ohtani said through his interpreter at the end of a three-game series in Texas. "Itís the beginning of the season, so I think they are being pretty careful with me right now.

"But once the season gets tougher, the schedule gets tougher through the summer, hopefully I can make them want to play me more. I would like to play more," he said. "But if not, thatís that Ö I have to follow what they say."

"Itís really trying to balance a little bit of a guyís ability obviously to swing the bat, and balance that with the need for him to be ready to pitch," Scioscia said. "The biggest thing is we will be flexible, so itís not in concrete. Weíll check with him and see when heís available and weíll go from there."

Ohtani was the first AL player to homer in three games in a row in the same season he started a game as a pitcher since Babe Ruth did it for the fifth time in 1930. The last player who had been the winning pitcher twice and hit three homers in his teamís first 10 games was Jim Shaw for the 1919 Washington Senators.

While the Angels took some infield before a game this month against Texas, Ohtani stood by the cage with a bat in his hand waiting for batting practice near where Scioscia was hitting fungo to some infielders. When the manager glanced back at one point, Ohtani flashed him a smile and a thumbs-up.

"His talent level is special. I have nobody to compare to. Iíve never played with a guy that can hit the ball the way he does, and throw 100 at the time," Angels second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "His regimen is impressive, itís very thought out. He knows what heís coming to the ballpark to do that day, whether itís on the offensive side of the ball or defensive side."

Rangers reliever Chris Martin was teammates with Ohtani the past two seasons in Japan, where they had lockers by each other and shared an interpreter. Martin, who talked with him a couple of times during the series, picked off Ohtani at first base.

"Super humble," Martin said, describing Ohtani as a teammate. "Itís just kind of crazy, all the fame that he gets, even over in Japan, and obviously over here now ... I donít even know if he was really even paying attention to it. Heís so focused on playing baseball and being the best he can be over here and just not worried about all the other stuff."

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