SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Jon Gray was as curious as the fans and the rest of the baseball world to see the Angels' Shohei Ohtani, the Japanese two-way star attempting to erase the barriers between pitching and batting.Gray, who gave up two runs on three hits (all second-inning ground
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Jon Gray was as curious as the fans and the rest of the baseball world to see the Angels' Shohei Ohtani, the Japanese two-way star attempting to erase the barriers between pitching and batting.
Gray, who gave up two runs on three hits (all second-inning ground balls) in two innings of the Rockies' 5-2 loss to the Angels on Tuesday, is still waiting to see the swing that has captivated the U.S., Ohtani's homeland of Japan and the world. Gray fanned Ohtani, who batted second as the designated hitter, on three looking strikes in the first.
"I heard he was a really good hitter, and he's been doing it for a while, too," Gray said. "He's still young. He looks really athletic in the box. I didn't know exactly what to throw him. We challenged him down and away at the end with the fastball.
"He didn't swing against me. But his next swing, I watched it from the dugout. It looked pretty good."
That swing, on a changeup from righty rotation competitor Jeff Hoffman (who gave up a Rene Rivera homer, but no other hits, in two innings), resulted in a flyout to right field for Ohtani in the fifth.
"He definitely looks good," Hoffman said. "There's a lot of bat speed, and he's well-balanced. And he's up on the plate. That can get in some pitchers' heads, so you've got to get in there close to him and take away some of that bat speed."
The Rockies are playing Ryan McMahon extensively to see if he can handle the first-base job. On Tuesday, he played designated hitter and third base (his original position), going 1-for-3 with a double. He is 6-for-12 this spring.
"I like what I'm seeing as far as his approach," manager Bud Black said. "All the hitting guys are saying that the work he's done, even before games started -- cage work, his drills, batting practices -- have all been solid. That's what we're looking for."
Even more competition
Mike Tauchman homered to straightaway center off Angels starter Matthew Shoemaker in the second inning. Looking to earn an outfield spot, Tauchman has doubled, tripled and homered among his 10 at-bats this spring.
Lefty-hitting catcher Tony Wolters ended the second by throwing out Kaleb Cowart on a steal attempt. Wolters, competing with Tom Murphy to catch alongside vet Chris Iannetta, threw out 13 of 35 (37.1 percent) potential basestealers last season.
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Outfielder Raimel Tapia, hoping to lead off and allow Charlie Blackmon to drop to third in the order, had an interestingly aggressive at-bat in the third. After faking a bunt, he swung at all four pitches, including lashing a single. Then, he was caught stealing by catcher Rivera.
Outfielder/first baseman Jordan Patterson went 1-for-3 with a double, improving to 5-for-13 with three doubles this spring.
Outfielder Gerardo Parra, returning from surgery for a broken hamate bone in his right hand just before camp, grabbed a bat Monday to face a trio of late-bullpen stalwarts -- closer Wade Davis, Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw. But he just tracked pitches and didn't risk his hand swinging.
Righty Carlos Estevez sustained an injury to his left side while warming up recently, but he should ramp up activity in the next 5-7 days.
The real Dahl
Outfield hopeful David Dahl didn't play Tuesday. He is 0-for-10 this spring, but he struck two balls strongly on Monday against the D-backs and has received positive marks. After not appearing in the Majors last season because of a rib injury, Dahl is rebuilding his pitch-reading skills.
"I'm still getting into it," said Dahl, who hit .315 in 63 games in his 2016 rookie campaign. "My timing is good. It's just anticipating how much breaking pitches are going to move or break, how much sinkers are going to sink. I've got to get the feel back for the strike zone, because I'm chasing a few pitches."
"He's getting there -- it's still early, it's Feb. 27," Black said. "The thing that I'm happy about is he's healthy, he's going through all drills, he's playing at a high pace of play and, so far, he's answering all the things that he needs to answer.
"He'll get his hits. He's a good player."
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.