Ohtani uneven in final spring pitching appearance for Angels

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Shohei Ohtani’s final time on the mound in spring training was a mixed bag, leaving the Los Angeles Angels noncommittal on what’s next for the two-way star from Japan.

Ohtani worked into the sixth inning of an intrasquad game on a back field, throwing only 47 strikes in 85 pitches to mostly minor leaguers. He walked five, hit a batter and threw two wild pitches while allowing two runs on just two hits.

The 23-year-old righty struck out five before a few hundred curious fans.

When does Ohtani pitch again? He politely replied through a translator to ask manager Mike Scioscia.

Scioscia isn’t saying. He said Ohtani would be the designated hitter for some of the three Freeway Series exhibition games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

”This is his highest pitch count of the spring, so we definitely want to see how he comes out of it,” Scioscia said.

Beyond that, Scioscia was coy on Ohtani’s immediate future.

”We’ll have an announcement on our whole team at the latest Tuesday,” Scioscia said.

As a DH, he batted .107 with three singles in 28 at-bats with three walks and nine strikeouts.

On whether he will make the big league team on opening day, Ohtani said: ”Honestly, I don’t know how people up there are making decisions like that, what they think of me at this point.”

”I try not to worry about that. I’m having the same approach I’ve had in Japan. It’s not up to me. It’s up to other people,” he said.

Ohtani’s velocity was down from previous outings. He worked mostly at 90-92 mph.

”I think when he needed it, when some guys got on base, you saw it pick up,” Scioscia said. ”He’s fine as far as velocity.”

Said Ohtani: ”I was focusing more on my splitter than my fastball. I was able to focus on my fastball in previous outings. I was focused more on my breaking ball and that’s probably why my velo was a little bit down. That’s another thing I need to work on.”

The Angels have shielded him from big league hitters. He worked only 2 2/3 innings in Cactus League games and permitted nine hits, three of them home runs, and nine runs. His other starts were against the Tijuana Toros of the Mexican League, a `B’ game against the Milwaukee Brewers and the final intrasquad game.

”I think it was spring training adjustments for Shohei,” Scioscia said. ”As he got acclimated, he was very comfortable with the guys in the clubhouse. He worked hard and just getting used to our baseballs, our system, coming out here and seeing major league hitters whether it was in games, it was all experience that was very important for him. And I think he did very well.”

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