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.
Chicago White Sox agree to trade with Chicago Cubs for closer Craig Kimbrel
The White Sox, who lead the AL Central, were looking for bullpen help, and they now have it with Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks.
Kimbrel, 33, has 23 saves this season for the Cubs with an 0.49 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 36⅔ innings. Overall, he has 371 career saves with the Cubs, Red Sox, Padres and Braves over his 12 major league seasons.
“We viewed Craig as the premier relief pitcher available at this trade deadline, and so we knew the cost would be steep in terms of parting with young talent,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. “But we recognize the special opportunity that currently exists and our team, our clubhouse and our fans deserve to know we will do everything we can to reach the postseason and win meaningful games in October.”
Madrigal tore his right hamstring and early June and is out for the season following surgery. He’s targeted to be the Cubs’ starting second baseman next season. He was hitting .305 when he was injured. Madrigal also won a minor league Gold Glove award in 2019.
Heuer, a 25-year-old right-hander, is 4-1 this season for the White Sox out of the bullpen. He’s appeared in 40 games. Last season, his first in the big leagues, he was 3-0 with a save and a 1.52 ERA in 21 appearances.
The White Sox entered Friday with an eight-game lead over division rival Cleveland. The Cubs are fourth in the NL Central and entering a rebuild.
The White Sox had already addressed the loss of Madrigal by acquiring slugging second baseman Cesar Hernandez from the Cleveland Indians on Thursday.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.
New York Yankees acquire LHP Andrew Heaney from Los Angeles Angels for minor leaguers
Heaney is 6-7 with a 5.27 ERA this season.
The moves comes after the Yankees previously added left-handed power bats Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo.
Braves further bolster outfield, acquire slugger Jorge Soler from Royals
Soler, 29, is batting .201 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs. He has failed in the past two seasons to match his breakout 2019 season, when he played all 162 games and hit a Royals club-record 48 homers, but will still provide a strong right-handed power bat to the Braves’ lineup.
The Braves needed to revamp their outfield as they attempt to remain in the hunt for a fourth consecutive NL East title. Atlanta suffered a severe blow to its playoff hopes when it lost Ronald Acuna Jr. to a season-ending knee injury on July 10.
NFL2 days ago
San Francisco 49ers’ Trey Lance signs rookie deal; New York Jets’ Zach Wilson last unsigned top pick
Soccer7 days ago
Tottenham can sign perfect £31.5m forward for Nuno Espirito Santo to replace Gareth Bale
MLB7 days ago
Hearing for restraining order requested against Trevor Bauer postponed until Aug. 2
Soccer6 days ago
Man Utd 'pushing for £50m Anthony Martial transfer exit' but Tottenham issue blocking deal
Cricket5 days ago
Royal London Cup 2021 – Alastair Cook, Tom Westley lead Essex’s victory cruise | Cricket
MLB5 days ago
San Diego Padres acquire All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier from Pittsburgh Pirates, sources say
Soccer4 days ago
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp confirms Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez injury return dates
NFL4 days ago
Chris Hogan reaches deal with New Orleans Saints, source says