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TEMPE, Ariz. — Shohei Ohtani‘s spring training pitching debut is one that he’ll file under “learning curve.”

Ohtani took the mound with plenty of hype and a “B” lineup in the field behind him in Saturday’s game between the Los Angeles Angels and Milwaukee Brewers. He labored with his control and threw 31 pitches — only 17 of them strikes — before departing with one out in the top of the second inning and the score tied 2-2.

Ohtani, who became a star in his early 20s with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and earned the moniker of “Japan’s Babe Ruth,” is trying to achieve a rarity with the Angels this season as a starting pitcher and part-time designated hitter. He’s been followed by waves of Japanese media this spring, and a larger-than-usual crowd was in the stands at Tempe Diablo Stadium for his Cactus League debut.

After Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero threw out the ceremonial first pitch, Ohtani took the mound with Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” playing over the stadium loudspeakers. Brewers shortstop and leadoff man Jonathan Villar worked the count to 3-1 before driving a double over Eric Young Jr.’s head in straightaway center field, and Milwaukee took a 1-0 lead on a walk, a wild pitch and a throwing error by Angels catcher Martin Maldonado.

The Angels came back to take a 2-1 lead before Keon Broxton lined a home run to left field off Ohtani to tie the game 2-2. After Nick Franklin flied out to left field, Angels manager Mike Scioscia went to the mound and lifted Ohtani. The crowd gave Ohtani a warm ovation as he walked off the mound, and he exchanged high-fives with several teammates in a crowded Angels dugout.

Ohtani appeared over-amped in his debut and struggled with fastball command while burying several breaking pitches in the dirt. His most impressive sequence came against Brett Phillips in the first inning, when he elicited “oohs” from the crowd with a slow curveball, then caught Phillips looking at a fastball for strike three.

Ohtani was clearly the main attraction for the Angels, who held out most of their top position players against Milwaukee. Maldonado and first baseman Luis Valbuena were the only regulars in the starting lineup Saturday.

The Angels have yet to indicate when Ohtani will make his first appearance as a designated hitter in Arizona, but they’ve said he will not be in the lineup as a DH the day before or after he pitches. So the earliest he can DH is Monday against the San Diego Padres at the Peoria Sports Complex.

Ohtani gave the Angels a tantalizing preview Thursday, when he launched several home runs over the scoreboard and the center field batting eye at Tempe Diablo. He hit .286 with a .500 slugging percentage over five seasons with Nippon.

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Source — Jurickson Profar, San Diego Padres agree to 3-year, $21 million deal

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Jurickson Profar and the San Diego Padres are in agreement on a three-year, $21 million contract, a source familiar with the deal told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Profar continues to show his versatility as a true utilityman, having played five defensive positions for the Padres last season while seeing most of his action in left field and at second base. He hit a career-high .278 with seven home runs and 25 RBIs in 56 games during the pandemic-shortened season.

The 27-year-old continues to get on track offensively as he gets more playing time, something he didn’t have during his first six years after the top prospect was called up by the Texas Rangers in 2012. He got off to a horrible start during the 2020 season but compiled an .879 OPS over the final 43 games, hitting .331.

The Padres acquired Profar in a trade with the Oakland Athletics after the 2019 season, and he beat out Brian Dozier to win the starting job at second base. His slow start, however, led to Jake Cronenworth taking over at the position, but opportunity soon followed as Profar moved to left field after Tommy Pham was injured.

Overall, in seven major league seasons, Profar has a .238 batting average with 59 home runs and 222 RBIs with the Padres, Athletics and Rangers.

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Images from Hank Aaron’s chase for the career home run record

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Baseball Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron died Friday in his sleep. He was 86. The Mobile, Alabama, native is remembered as one of the greatest hitters of all time. He spent his entire adult life in baseball, as a player and in the Atlanta Braves’ front office. Take a look back at some of the greatest moments from his career, including the chase for his record-breaking 715th career home run.

Related: Aaron’s impact is measured in more than home runs


Related: Baseball world and beyond honor Hank Aaron


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Tributes to a legend — Baseball world and beyond honors Hank Aaron

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The importance of Hank Aaron to baseball — and to American culture — is unmistakable. The Hall of Famer and longtime MLB home run king was a symbol of greatness on the field and dignity off it, facing death threats as a Black man approaching and then breaking Babe Ruth’s hallowed home run mark with the Atlanta Braves in 1974.

His death on Friday morning, at age 86, reverberated beyond sports. Here are some of the many tributes to Hammerin’ Hank on social media, from current and former big leaguers to civil rights leaders and other luminaries.

More on Aaron: Bryant: Aaron’s lasting impact is measured in more than home runs



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