Baseball / MLB

Shohei Ohtani pulled early in spring debut with Angels

AP, Kyodo

Shohei Ohtani only pitched in his spring training debut for the Los Angeles Angels and got pulled early.

The star pitcher and hitter was scheduled to throw two innings in his start Saturday, but was taken out after giving up two hits and two walks in 1⅓ innings during a 6-5 win over Milwaukee.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia didn’t put Ohtani in the batting order.

The 23-year-old righty struck out two and allowed one run, on a homer by Keon Broxton. Ohtani threw 31 pitches, 17 for strikes.

“Besides the results, I mean, I had a lot of fun out there, so I think it went all well,” Ohtani said through a translator.

Ohtani gave his other hit up to second baseman Jonathan Villar, then struck out Nate Orf with a splitter before walking South Korean Choi Ji-man. After a wild pitch let him advance to third, Villar scored on catcher Martin Maldonado’s error, but Ohtani ended the inning by striking out right fielder Brett Phillips.

The two-way star was able to show off some of his impressive arsenal, including a fastball clocked at 156 kph and a 111-kph curveball, but saw areas where he could improve.

“Overall I couldn’t arrange the counts well enough, so that’s something I’d like to fix,” he said.

Ohtani has been hitting some long home runs in batting practice.

“I had a lot of fun out there today and obviously I’m excited to hit and pitch again, and I just want to keep on getting better and have good results from here on out,” he said.

Scioscia said Ohtani will hit early in the week, serving as designated hitter.

The Brewers were mostly impressed.

“I think he’s got great stuff,” Broxton said. “I only saw fastballs, but the off-speed I saw earlier looked like it was pretty good. . . . I think there’s definitely more there. He’s got a good arm; a nice and easy release. I hope it works out for him.”

Milwaukee’s Brett Phillips took a called third strike to end the first inning.

“He’s got a really live arm,” Phillips said. “His fastball, he might have to locate it a little better. It was coming out good but a little flat. Off-speed looked really good. He has a good chance to be really good.”

Phillips was intrigued by Ohtani’s two-way potential.

“If you can do it, more power to you. I hope he gets a chance because he proved in Japan that he can hit and pitch,” Phillips said. “Now he’s in the highest level and I hope he gets an opportunity to show if he can do it. He’s earned it. We’ll see if he gets that chance.”