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Broxton blasts impressive homer off Ohtani

Brewers gives first impressions on facing Japanese phenom
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Keon Broxton helped the Brewers say "Welcome to the big leagues" to Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani.

Broxton smashed a fastball for a line-drive home run leading off the second inning, helping to spoil Ohtani's first U.S. start as the Brewers played the Angels on Saturday at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Ohtani departed two batters later after reaching his pitch limit in an unofficial-but-much-anticipated Major League debut.

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Keon Broxton helped the Brewers say "Welcome to the big leagues" to Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani.

Broxton smashed a fastball for a line-drive home run leading off the second inning, helping to spoil Ohtani's first U.S. start as the Brewers played the Angels on Saturday at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Ohtani departed two batters later after reaching his pitch limit in an unofficial-but-much-anticipated Major League debut.

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"I think he's got great stuff. He has the ability to be a Major League Baseball player, for sure," said Broxton, who hit 20 home runs last season but finds himself fighting for a spot in the Brewers' crowded outfield. "In Spring Training, it's hard to get a good judge on how the guy is feeling or if all of his stuff is locked in. I think there's definitely more there; he's going to improve."

A right-handed power pitcher and left-handed slugger who drew offseason interest from teams all over MLB, including the Brewers, Ohtani threw 17 of his 31 pitches for strikes.

Milwaukee leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar greeted him by hitting a 3-1 fastball for a ground-rule double over the center-field fence, and later scored on a wild pitch coupled with a throwing error charged to Angels catcher Martin Maldonado.

Video: MIL@LAA: Villar doubles to center, scores on error

Ohtani struck out Nate Orf and Brett Phillips in the first inning to limit the damage to that unearned run before Broxton connected in the second.

"I shouldn't have missed the first fastball," said Phillips. "The first one he threw me, I fouled off, and then he threw me what we like to call the kitchen sink. … On the fastball I swung at and fouled off, I heard him say, 'Ooooh!' and I was like, 'Oh gosh, here comes all the offspeed.' So, I only got to see one fastball."

Are players interested in seeing if Ohtani can make it in the Majors as a two-way player?

"If you can do it, all power to you," Phillips said. "He proved himself over in Japan that he can hit and pitch. Now he's at the highest level, in the Majors, and I hope he gets the opportunity to show if he can do it. He's earned it. We'll see if he gets the chance to."

Video: MIL@LAA: Broxton on HR off Ohtani, Phillips impressed

Better days ahead

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Brewers catcher Manny Pina was hit by a pitch twice in Friday's spring opener against the Cubs, but his wife, Leny, had it much worse. She was holding the couple's young daughter on the right-field concourse at Maryvale Baseball Park when she was hit in the head by a foul ball.

Leny Pina passed a concussion test, Manny said, but does require dental work for a broken tooth. They were thankful her injuries weren't worse and that young Jimena was unharmed.

"Not a good day for the Pina family," Manny said.

Houser back on the hill

Pitching prospect Adrian Houser threw off a mound Saturday for the first time since undergoing an emergency appendectomy last month. He is entering his first full season since a 2016 Tommy John surgery, and despite being a bit behind the other pitchers in camp, Brewers manager Craig Counsell considers Houser among the group of prospects who can help at the big league level as soon as the middle of this season.

"When I mentioned [Freddy] Peralta and [Taylor] Williams the other day, I should have mentioned Houser, too, because he falls into a similar category, for me," said Counsell, who has also mentioned Corbin Burnes in that class. "A set of guys who we think can help us this year. One more little step certainly puts him in the mix for a spot on our staff this year."

Brewers' Top 30 prospects

Houser, one of four prospects who came to the Brewers from the Astros in a 2015 trade for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers, got a taste of the Majors at the end of the '15 season before succumbing to the elbow injury the following year.

Last call

• Before beginning his 48th season calling games on the Brewers Radio Network, Bob Uecker told a tale of his harrowing start to his offseason. After Uecker went home to Arizona last October, he was changing a light bulb outside his home when he was bit on the right knee by a brown recluse spider. Uecker required surgery but was back to full strength long before he went on the air Saturday with broadcast partner Jeff Levering.

Tweet from @Brewers: Ah, the sound of summer. ������ pic.twitter.com/Xq2hCzaa2K

Up next: A pair of Brewers newcomers are scheduled to pitch against the D-backs on Sunday in Scottsdale, though one is a familiar face. After Jhoulys Chacin makes the start for Milwaukee, all-time Brewers strikeout leader Yovani Gallardo will follow, launching his bid for a spot in the starting rotation or the bullpen. Zack Greinke starts for Arizona. Bill Schroeder and Lane Grindle will have the call in the first exclusive Brewers.com webcast of the spring.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jonathan Broxton