PEORIA, Ariz. — Shohei Ohtani displayed a blend of patience and aggressiveness in his designated hitter debut with the Los Angeles Angels. At the end of the day, he had a 1.000 on base percentage, his first Cactus League hit, and something small to build upon.
Two days after his first outing as a starter, Ohtani was in the starting lineup for the Angels in a road game against the San Diego Padres. He walked in his first two plate appearances before jumping on the first pitch from reliever Michael Mariot and hitting a hard ground RBI single up the middle in the top of the fifth inning. Manager Mike Scioscia called for a pinch runner, and Ohtani received a warm ovation from the sparse crowd at Peoria Sports Complex on his way back to the dugout.
“I was able to see a lot of pitches and that was really good,” Ohtani said. “I just want to keep it going. I’m seeing the ball pretty well right now. Hopefully, I can have better at-bats. I think this goes for almost every player, but my hitting is always ahead of my pitching at this point in the year. It’s just like any other year.”
The Angels are trying to devise a comfortable and workable routine as Ohtani pursues his goal of making an impact as a two-way player. His primary focus will be as a member of a six-man starting rotation, but he is also expected to contribute as a DH.
The atmosphere was considerably more low-key than in Ohtani’s pitching debut Saturday, when he struggled with his control over 1 1/3 innings in a 6-5 loss to Milwaukee. A crowd of 6,019 was on hand in Tempe for that game, and Ohtani had trouble keeping his delivery in sync while throwing 17 strikes and 14 balls.
Ohtani batted second in the order between center fielder Eric Young Jr. and shortstop David Fletcher on Monday. Scioscia, citing the unusually early start to spring training this year, has yet to play Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Justin Upton or any of Los Angeles’ other high-profile regulars.
Ohtani fell behind 0-2 against right-hander Jordan Lyles in his first at-bat, then laid off four straight pitches out of the strike zone for a walk. He walked again on five pitches against lefty Buddy Baumann before facing Mariot, a righty reliever with 44 career appearances in Philadelphia and Kansas City. Ohtani drove a fastball through the box to score Young and give the Angels a 4-1 lead before calling it a day.
“I was happy to get that first hit out of the way,” Ohtani said, “but I was also happy with my first two at-bats. I got to see a lot of pitches. And I got to see a righty and a lefty. I felt like I had three good at-bats, including the first two.
“One of the reasons I saw so many pitches my first two at-bats is that I just wanted to see the difference in the strike zones between Japan and the States. I felt like I accomplished that. Plus, there was a runner in scoring position so I just wanted to be aggressive.”
While the Angels have yet to outline a specific workload for Ohtani, his last healthy season in Japan could provide a bit of a roadmap. In 2016, Ohtani threw 140 innings and logged 323 at-bats as an outfielder for the Nippon Ham Fighters. Last year, his workload was curtailed by injuries and he made only five starts as a pitcher and hit .332 with a .942 OPS for the Fighters.
Kris Bryant joins ex-Chicago Cubs teammates Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez in mashing debut homer
The now San Francisco Giant hit a two-out solo shot in the third inning of a 5-3 win over the Houston Astros. Two days earlier, Rizzo crushed a 449-foot solo home run in his New York Yankees debut while Baez mashed a two-run dinger in his first game with the New York Mets the following day.
The former Cubs became the first trio of ex-teammates in the Modern Era to start the season on the same team, and then homer in their respective debuts with a new team later that season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Acquired in a trade with the Cubs for two minor league prospects just minutes before Friday’s deadline, Bryant was greeted by chants of “KB, KB, KB” when he trotted onto the field for pregame warmups and received a standing ovation before his first at-bat.
The four-time All-Star was cheered again after striking out swinging. Those cheers got louder after Bryant crushed an 0-1 pitch from Luis Garcia (7-6) into the left field stands for his 19th home run this season.
“It’s nice to really feel welcome,” Bryant said before the game. “Barry Bonds was my favorite player. I still have the autograph that my mom went and bought at the mall. Now I’m here. It’s kind of weird.”
It wasn’t a perfect debut for Bryant, who started at third base. His throwing error on Martin Maldonado‘s grounder down the line in the fifth gave the Astros a runner in scoring position with no outs. Logan Webb retired the next three batters to work out of the jam.
“It’s a bat that really lengthens our group and makes our bench better,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said of Bryant. “It makes it more difficult to get through the top of our lineup. He’s going to be good for us.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Alex Cora encouraged as Chris Sale, Kyle Schwarber move steps closer to joining Boston Red Sox
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Boston Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale will make a fifth minor league rehab start later this week for Triple-A Worcester as he moves closer to pitching in the majors for the first time since Aug. 13, 2019.
Sale had Tommy John surgery in March 2020.
“We’ll re-address the situation after that but he’s getting close,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said before Sunday night’s game at Tampa Bay. “We’ll see where it takes us.”
Cora said Sale “felt great” one day after allowing one run over five innings Saturday for Worcester.
The Red Sox had lost four of five entering Sunday, including the first two games of a three-game series with Tampa Bay, that dropped them a half-game behind the AL East-leading Rays.
There is also encouraging news about recently acquired slugger Kyle Schwarber, who is currently out with a hamstring injury. He will take part in an off-day workout Monday in Detroit.
Schwarber will continue doing defensive work at first base where the team hopes he will be able to play at the unfamiliar position. He is nearing a rehab assignment.
“We’ll sit down on Tuesday or Wednesday and see where we’re at,” Cora said. “As far as the progress of the injury, we’re excited. The progress has been great. We’re hoping he goes on a rehab assignment sooner rather than later.”
Boston got Schwarber from Washington for a minor league pitcher last Thursday. He last played on July 2.
Utilityman Marwin Gonzalez (right hamstring strain) will also join the team for Monday’s workout and could be back Tuesday night when the Red Sox open a three-game series with the Tigers.
Right-hander Matt Andriese (right hamstring tendinitis) had a live batting practice session.
Reliever Brandon Workman, designated for assignment last Thursday, was outrighted off the major league roster and elected to become a free agent.
New York Mets put infielder Luis Guillorme on IL with hamstring injury
NEW YORK — The Mets placed infielder Luis Guillorme on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain on Sunday, a day after he scored the tying run as a pinch-runner in a comeback victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The 26-year-old Guillorme is batting .293 in 56 games this season. He missed six weeks earlier this year with a right oblique strain, returning on June 11.
The Mets recalled right-hander Geoff Hartlieb from Triple-A Syracuse. He has made one appearance for New York this season after being selected off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 9.
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