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.
Former Oakland Athletics pitcher Dave Stewart bids $115 million on share of Oakland Coliseum
With both the NBA’s Warriors and NFL’s Raiders leaving the site in recent years, the A’s are the last pro team using the Coliseum. The team has undergone steps to build a new ballpark at Howard Terminal, about seven miles uptown.
The A’s currently own the other half of the Coliseum.
In a Tweet on Saturday night, Stewart, who grew up in the area, said doing “right by our community” is the driving force behind the bid. He told the Chronicle he has ideas of developing the area and potentially building a new stadium there if plans for the Howard Terminal ballpark fall through.
Home has ALWAYS been where my heart is. Oakland is every bit of who and why I am… An opportunity to do right by our community, keep our community, to do BETTER by our community is the only driving force for me in this. #wishusluck #Godspeed https://t.co/zwy3ocDgsk
— Dave “Smoke” Stewart (@Dsmoke34) January 17, 2021
Stewart, 63, played parts of eight seasons in Oakland and helped the team win a World Series in 1989.
Tri-City ValleyCats suing Major League Baseball, Houston Astros
TROY, N.Y. — Left in the lurch by minor league contraction, the Tri-City ValleyCats have filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball and the Houston Astros.
The suit, filed Thursday in New York State Supreme Court, seeks more than $15 million, ValleyCats chairman Doug Gladstone told the Albany Times-Union. The move comes in response to MLB’s decision to drop 42 minor league affiliates.
The ValleyCats played in the now-defunct New York-Penn League, operating as a short-season affiliate of the Astros for 18 seasons.
Gladstone told the Times-Union the loss of the affiliation greatly affected the value of the franchise, which was moved from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to Troy in 2002 by Gladstone’s late father. It had previously been located in Little Falls, New York.
The ValleyCats won three New York-Penn League championships and drew more than 4,000 fans per game for 11 straight seasons, from 2008-18.
In their most recent season, Tri-City had the third-highest attendance in the 14-team league, averaging more than 3,869. The only two teams that were higher, Brooklyn and Hudson Valley, survived with moves to a new league.
The team is joining the independent Frontier League and will continue to play its home games at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
LHP Martin Perez returns to Boston Red Sox on one-year deal, source says
Perez’s agreement, which was first reported by the Athletic, includes a club option for a second year for 2022.
The 29-year-old spent last season with the Red Sox, going 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA, after going 10-7 with a 5.12 ERA during the 2019 season with the Twins. He had spent the previous seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, posting double-digit wins three separate times.
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