PHOENIX -- Nearly three weeks into his Angels tenure, Shohei Ohtani is still adjusting to life in the big leagues, but the two-way phenom took another step forward in his transition to the Majors on Friday, allowing two runs over 2 2/3 innings and striking out eight of the 12
PHOENIX -- Nearly three weeks into his Angels tenure, Shohei Ohtani is still adjusting to life in the big leagues, but the two-way phenom took another step forward in his transition to the Majors on Friday, allowing two runs over 2 2/3 innings and striking out eight of the 12 batters he faced in a "B" game against the Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park.
Ohtani gave up four hits, walked none and threw 52 pitches, three of them wild, in his second outing of the spring. Ohtani threw all four of his pitches -- fastball, slider, splitter and curveball -- with his slider being particularly "outstanding," according to Angels catcher Rene Rivera.
"I felt like I was in the zone with all my pitches, compared to last time," said Ohtani, who gave up two runs over 1 1/3 innings in his Cactus League debut against Milwaukee on Feb. 24. "I need to still work on the break of my breaking balls and timing, but I did take a step forward since my last outing."
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The Angels decided to have Ohtani start the "B" game rather than Friday's Cactus League game against the Cubs at Tempe Diablo Stadium to ensure that the 23-year-old right-hander logged three innings in a controlled setting. Approximately 200 people -- primarily scouts and media members -- were on hand to watch the 10 a.m. MT matchup between Ohtani and Brewers pitching prospect Corbin Burnes.
Facing a Brewers lineup that included a mix of players from big league and Minor League camp, Ohtani surrendered a first-pitch double to Keston Hiura, Milwaukee's 2017 first-round Draft pick, but struck out the side in a scoreless first inning.
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Ohtani opened the second by yielding three consecutive hits -- an infield single, a double that deflected off the glove of third baseman Kaleb Cowart and a two-run single up the middle -- before striking out two more batters. The inning was called with only two outs to keep Ohtani's pitch count within budget.
Ohtani saved his most dominant inning for last, needing only 13 pitches to strike out the side in a 1-2-3 third.
"He looked nasty today," Rivera said. "Those sliders, you see the hitters jumping back thinking they're going to hit them, and the ball is right on the corner. He was good."
Ohtani -- the No. 1 prospect in baseball -- said he's still getting used to pitching off American mounds, as they are slightly steeper and thus have a lower landing surface than the ones used in Japan.
"I think the mound in Japan is a little lower, so every time he goes out there he's going to feel better," Rivera said. "The first inning, he was looking at the mound, trying to figure out the mound. But he progressed through it, and the last inning was outstanding."
Ohtani is beginning to find his footing -- pun intended -- in other ways as well. He said the biggest difference has been the lack of off-days in Major League Spring Training. In Japan, clubs typically have longer workouts during Spring Training, with a day off every four days or so.
"I'm kind of getting used to the rhythm," Ohtani said via interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.
The Angels do not expect Ohtani to hit on days after he pitches, so the earliest he would return to the lineup is Sunday. Ohtani has batted in two Cactus League games this spring, going 1-for-4 with two walks and an RBI.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.
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