The sight of Shohei Ohtani in a Los Angeles Angels uniform might be starting to feel familiar after he made his third spring training appearance in the past four days, but the two-way player doesn’t consider himself a true big league player just yet.
“I really won’t feel like a major leaguer until Opening Day,” Ohtani said through his interpreter after going 0-for-3 against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday.
While the pitcher/hitter waits for that regular-season moment to arrive, he will be plenty busy honing the unique schedule he needs to get in work both on the mound and at the plate this spring.
Under the current construction of his schedule, this means Ohtani won’t see the batter’s box again until at least Sunday due to a Wednesday bullpen session and Friday pitching appearance that manager Mike Scioscia announced will come in a B game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Ohtani will be limited to about 45 pitches in the game.
However, the plan currently keeping Ohtani from swinging the bat on days he throws bullpens could change as the spring progresses.
“I’m not hitting tomorrow, but that might not be the case the rest of the time” Ohtani said. “I’m still trying to get used to things. Once I get used to the rhythm of the schedule, I might start hitting on my bullpen days also.”
Ohtani isn’t worried about rust despite a plan that could lead to longer breaks than most hitters see between at-bats.
“I’ve been experiencing the same thing in Japan for a while now,” Ohtani said. “The one thing I’ve been doing is taking BP as much as I can so I stay ready.”
From the early results, Ohtani also won’t press to get in extra swings when he does get at-bats for the Angels. Following a trend that led to two walks and a single in Monday’s hitting debut, Ohtani showed patience again in his first plate appearance of Tuesday’s game by taking five consecutive pitches on his way to a first-inning strikeout. He then hit a towering fly ball in his second at-bat before grounding into a fielder’s choice and being lifted for a pinch runner in the sixth inning to complete his day.
“I think it was productive,” Ohtani said of his performance. “Yesterday’s game, I only swung in my third at-bat. This time, I struck out the first at-bat but then I put some good swings on the ball.”
Washington Nationals’ Juan Soto (left shoulder) goes on 10-day injured list
Soto, 22, will have to sit out at least the next seven games; the Nationals have three off days during his IL stint.
The team recalled outfielder Yadiel Hernandez from their alternate site to replace Soto on the roster.
Soto is hitting .300 in 14 games this season.
Slumping New York Yankees shake up lineup against Atlanta Braves
NEW YORK — New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone made three changes to the starting lineup of his slumping team against Atlanta on Tuesday night, inserting first baseman Mike Ford and left fielder Mike Tauchman and giving Brett Gardner his second start this season in center field.
New York has lost five straight games, dropping to 5-10 for its worst start since 1997.
The switch-hitting Hicks was batting .160, including 3 for 32 vs. right-handers, Frazier was hitting .167 with no RBI and Odor was batting .125.
Ford was to make his season debut. He was recalled from the alternate training site and took the roster spot of Jay Bruce, who hit .118 and retired Sunday.
Boone said he might give Hicks another day off Wednesday.
Infielder Neil Walker retires after 12 MLB seasons
Veteran infielder Neil Walker announced his retirement Tuesday after 12 major league seasons.
Born in Pittsburgh, he played his first seven seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates before playing for the New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies over his final five seasons.
Walker, 35, made his announcement on Twitter, writing, “thank you to everyone that helped me in my journey to live out my childhood dream of being a Major Leaguer, I loved & cherished every day.”
Officially retired, thank you to everyone that helped me in my journey to live out my childhood dream of being a Major Leaguer, I loved & cherished every day. From Pittsburgh, NY Mets & Yankees, Milwaukee, Miami, and Philly, nothing but love to those Organizations, Cities & Fans! pic.twitter.com/mvl3cg9k80
— Neil Walker (@NeilWalker18) April 20, 2021
The Pirates selected Walker with the 11th-overall pick of the 2004 draft and he went on to hit 93 home runs with 418 RBIs while slashing .272/.338/.431 in 836 games. His best major league season came in 2014 when he hit .271 and set career bests with 23 home runs and 76 RBIs, earning a Silver Slugger award. His 23 home runs broke Bill Mazeroski’s franchise record for home runs in a season by a second baseman.
Walker played for the Phillies during the 2020 pandemic shortened season, appearing in 18 games.
Overall, Walker finishes his major league career with 149 home runs and 609 RBIs and a slash line of .267/.338/.426.
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