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Ohtani still confident despite struggles at plate

Japanese two-way player is 2-for-24 in Cactus League play
Special to MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Shohei Ohtani is just a millisecond off in a new league where timing is everything.

Ohtani, baseball's No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, went 0-for-4 and struck out in his last two at-bats in the Angels' 4-2 victory over the Rangers on Sunday. The two-way Japanese player is 2-for-24 (.083) in the Cactus League. The left-handed-hitting Ohtani faced three Rangers left-handers in his four at-bats.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Shohei Ohtani is just a millisecond off in a new league where timing is everything.

Ohtani, baseball's No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, went 0-for-4 and struck out in his last two at-bats in the Angels' 4-2 victory over the Rangers on Sunday. The two-way Japanese player is 2-for-24 (.083) in the Cactus League. The left-handed-hitting Ohtani faced three Rangers left-handers in his four at-bats.

"Of course I believe I'm still going to have good results," Ohtani said through an interpreter. "I believe in myself and I'll keep on working hard every day and the results will follow.

"After playing a few games, I'm starting to get used to the strike zone a little bit more. I'm trying to get my swing right. I'm fouling off a lot of pitches I shouldn't be fouling off."

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In his final at-bat in the eighth inning, Ohtani fouled off several pitches before Rangers reliever Brady Feigl struck him out with a high breaking ball.

"He's getting there," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "In fact, his last at-bat he was probably closer to where he needs to be. He just missed three pitches before he struck out. He's making progress, for sure."

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Scioscia said Ohtani would pitch again on Saturday, the Angels' final day in Arizona. He said he did not know if it would be in a Minor League game or against the D-backs in the Cactus League.

"He just needs to get his timing right," Scioscia said. "Right now, he's working on timing, whether it is lefties or righties."

Ohtani had a better batting average against left-handers in Japan.

"It's not that I don't like facing lefties," Ohtani said. "I'm sure a lot of lefties in the bullpen are kind of like lefty specialists. I don't feel there is a big difference between lefties and righties, but I don't know these pitchers yet. It's the first time I've faced them. I don't know what they throw. I don't know their routines. It's probably one of the reasons why."

Ohtani lined out to Rangers starter Martin Perez, who turned to third base and doubled off Kole Calhoun.

"I felt it went off my bat pretty well, but he did break my bat, which means I was a little jammed," Ohtani said.

Video: LAA@TEX: Perez starts a double play off Ohtani liner

Ohtani did reach first base on a throwing error in his first at-bat. The original plan was for Ohtani to get at-bats in a Minor League game Sunday, but that was altered.

"Albert [Pujols] asked yesterday if he could go down and get a number of at-bats," Scioscia said. "So Ohtani was approached about making the bus trip to DH against the Rangers.

"We weighed the options of him going down and getting five or six at-bats or coming up here and getting three or four at-bats against a Major League pitcher. We had both options available as it sorted out, [and] this is the best one for Shohei."

Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani