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Maeda impresses in second spring start

AP

Kenta Maeda pitched three scoreless innings in his second start, A.J. Ellis had two hits and drove in three runs and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Oakland Athletics 8-3 on Thursday.

Maeda signed a $25 million, eight-year deal with the Dodgers following eight professional seasons with the Hiroshima Carp, a deal that could escalate to $106.2 million. He has yet to allow a run in five innings and has struck out five.

“His ability to change speeds keeps hitters off balance,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He got up to 50 pitches. It was a good outing.”

A’s starter Rich Hill, who lasted 2⅓ innings, got the opening two outs of the first before walking the bases loaded and giving up Ellis’ three-run double and Trayce Thompson’s two-run homer.

“He’s a veteran guy in the rotation,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “He had some ups and downs. It’s a great opportunity for him.”

Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier also drove in runs for the Dodgers. Billy Butler had two hits for the A’s.

Maeda isn’t taking anything for granted as he prepares for his first major league season.

“I’m aware it’s spring training and not the regular season,” Maeda said through an interpreter. “I’m not concerned about results. I’m sure there will be a few bumps along the way.”

Maeda recorded strikeouts with his fastball, change-up and slider, though he’s not yet comfortable with his slider.

“The break was not too good on it,” he said.

As for differences between the two professional leagues, Maeda said he has noticed the bat speed among major leaguers “is pretty quick.”