Ohtani raking after simplifying swing

Angels' two-way star homers in third straight game at DH

April 7th, 2018

ANAHEIM -- , who homered in his third straight game as DH on Friday night against the A's, has shown a propensity for making adjustments during his brief time in the Majors.

During Spring Training, Ohtani made a noticeable modification to his batting stance, scrapping his high leg kick for a subtler toe tap.

"If you look at some video, he's had a smaller leg kick out there where he's kind of working on not the big kick, which is more sensitive to timing," manager Mike Scioscia said before Friday's series opener. "It's not like he's changing his mechanics drastically. This is very much in line with a lot of the swings that we saw that he took in Japan. It's just modified a little bit to where he's closer to the ground and can have a more consistent approach to the ball."

Ohtani, 23, said he made the change in consultation with the Angels' hitting coaches, though he feels the adjustment hasn't altered his swing much.

"It may look as though it has changed a lot, but I don't feel it has changed much," Ohtani said in Japanese. "I've omitted the process when I go to the top, [but] the swing itself hasn't changed that much. There are a lot of pitchers that throw differently, so I think I can adjust easier to that.

"I'll keep on trying out different things like I have been doing every year. I have changed my batting form during the season in the past. I think everybody does that. I'll try out different things to get or find the right feel."

After going 4-for-32 (.125) with no extra-base hits during exhibition play, Ohtani went 6-for-14 (.429) with two home runs -- including a two-run shot off reigning American League Cy Young Award winner on Wednesday -- in his first three regular-season starts as the Angels' designated hitter. Ohtani hade his third consecutive start out of the eight-hole on Friday.

Despite Ohtani's hot start, Scioscia said it's still too early to consider moving the left-handed slugger up in the Angels' lineup.

"I think we're still seven games into this," Scioscia said. "We'll evaluate things as we start to get underway. I think the way he's swinging the bat and where he's hitting shows that we have a deep lineup, and that's what we're going to need. But, obviously, as we start to get more information, as we start to get through this, there's always opportunities to adjust the lineup."

Shoemaker still searching for answers

, on the disabled list with a right forearm strain, underwent an MRI exam on Wednesday that showed no acute trauma to his elbow, but he is slated to undergo more tests on Monday, including an EMG and a nerve conduction study in Los Angeles.

Shoemaker said he had the same test done last year, which revealed that the radial nerve in his forearm was being compressed and led to season-ending surgery to release the nerve. He still isn't sure if the issue is the same, but he's hoping the results from Monday's tests will clarify the situation and yield a specific diagnosis.

"We did an EMG, and that's what told us the information last year," Shoemaker said. "I had something pushing down on my nerve previously, and that's why it required surgery to cut that off and everything felt great. Now something is going on. It might be something similar, recurring. That's what we're trying to figure out."

started against the A's on Friday in Shoemaker's place.

Worth noting

(left adductor strain) took batting practice on the field on Friday and could resume taking grounders on Saturday, according to Scioscia.

(left elbow inflammation) made a rehab start for Class A Advanced Inland Empire on Friday night, allowing one run on two hits over 6 1/3 innings. He walked one, struck out six and threw 87 pitches, 61 for strikes.

• Right-hander was claimed by the D-backs on Friday after being designated for assignment by the Angels earlier this week. Scribner, 26, posted a 4.18 ERA over 23 2/3 innings for the Angels in 2017.