Baseball / MLB

Shohei Ohtani strikes out eight for Angels

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo

Shohei Ohtani struck out eight of the 12 batters he faced Friday for the Los Angeles Angels in a split-squad spring training game against Milwaukee.

The 23-year-old right-hander threw 52 pitches and showed mastery of secondary pitches as well as a strong fastball while surrendering only one hard-hit ball in his second exhibition appearance.

He has now worked four innings in two appearances for the Angels. Last Saturday, also against Milwaukee, Ohtani struck out two batters, walked one and allowed two hits, including a home run.

Ohtani did not bat against San Francisco on Thursday as part of the Angels’ plan to rest him as a hitter on days before and after a pitching appearance.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said the team might revisit that idea once the regular season opens at the end of the month.

“When the season opens up, we’ll obviously look very closely at it,” Scioscia said. “There is a lot of effort a pitcher has to put into pitching, and obviously it might erode some of the opportunities he has to hit.

“But we’re going to be flexible with everything we do. If it comes down to where he is pitching in a day and he’s not going to hit the day before, so be it. If a day after, he is not available or available to pinch-hit, so be it.”

Scioscia has said that Ohtani will not be used as a relief pitcher in games where he is used as a designated hitter since that would cause the Angels to lose the designated hitter spot for the remainder of any such game.

“I learned from my mistakes from my last outing and knew what I had to do and what to be careful of, and I was able to do both,” Ohtani said.

“(In the third inning) I started getting the feel for the mound. I was able to control my breaking pitches. I’m definitely taking steps forward since coming to Arizona,” he said.

Ohtani needed only 13 pitches to strike out the side in order in the third inning. After a scoreless first inning, he yielded three consecutive hits in the second, when the inning was called with only two outs after he threw 20 pitches.

Meanwhile, Clayton Kershaw’s second spring training outing went according to plan, save for one poor throw to first.

The ace left-hander breezed through two scoreless innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, allowing one hit and walking one during a 7-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Glendale, Arizona. He worked a perfect inning in his spring training debut against Seattle on Sunday.

“Another step. Another inning,” Kershaw said. “Definitely things I can do better, but for the most part I’ll take it. It was all right. I made some good pitches when I needed to. I made some bad ones, too. Enough to work on for the next one.”

Leury Garcia dropped a single into left in the first for Chicago’s only hit off Kershaw. Garcia raced all the way to third when Kershaw made a wild throw on a pickoff attempt, but Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia grounded out to end the inning.

“I just tried to be a little too quick,” Kershaw said, looking back on his fielding miscue. “I think I might have, it would have been close, but I didn’t make a good throw.”