Another tool in Ohtani's toolbox: Pinch-hitter

August 19th, 2018

ARLINGTON -- Add pinch-hitting to the list of impressive skills that has showed proficiency in during his rookie season with the Angels.

Ohtani didn't start against Rangers left-hander in Saturday night's 11-7 win at Globe Life Park, but he came off the bench in the seventh inning and delivered the biggest blow of the game off reliever Eddie Butler. After snapped a 6-6 tie with a go-ahead single to left field, Ohtani broke the game open by crushing a three-run, pinch-hit home run to straightaway center field to make it 10-6.

It was Ohtani's second pinch-hit home run of the season, making him the first Angel to collect two such homers since Russell Branyan in 2011. The 24-year-old left-handed slugger is now 5-for-14 (.357) with three walks and four RBIs in 17 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter this season.

Manager Mike Scioscia said he believes Ohtani's success as a pinch-hitter partly stems from his rigorous preparation and study of opposing pitchers.

"Shohei is as prepared as any player I've seen," Scioscia said Sunday. "Even more so. He studies pitchers. He has an understanding. But pinch-hitting is different than going up there and getting four at-bats against a pitcher. It's a different dynamic. There's less margin for error as far as when you miss a pitch that you should hit. But he wraps his arms around it when he's had to pinch-hit. He's been terrific."

Ohtani will get more opportunities to pinch-hit during the Angels' upcoming two-game series against the D-backs. Because the Angels will be without the designated hitter at Chase Field, Ohtani will be limited to coming off the bench for the club.

While most of the Angels will enjoy an off-day on Monday, Ohtani will be busy rehabbing his prized right elbow. He is scheduled to throw a simulated game at the club's training complex in Tempe, Ariz., marking his first time facing hitters since receiving platelet-rich plasma and stem-cell injections to treat a sprained elbow ligament on June 7.

Though the workout is expected to be "a lot more aggressive" than Ohtani's light bullpen session on Saturday, Scioscia said it isn't expected to impact his availability as a hitter on Tuesday.

Worth noting

Utility man started in left field in place of on Sunday afternoon, marking his second career MLB start at the position. Cowart has made five career starts in left field in the Minors.