Ohtani draws a crowd at Angels camp

Newcomer creates buzz as pitchers, catchers report

February 14th, 2018

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Ohtanimania officially hit Angels camp on Tuesday, with approximately 70 media members flocking to Tempe Diablo Stadium to chronicle the Japanese phenom's first day of Spring Training. On Wednesday, the two-way star met with those reporters.

, the Angels' prized offseason acquisition, took some swings in the batting cage Tuesday and played catch with his interpreter, drawing a throng of cameras and reporters as he roved through the training facility.

"You never really see this many media people here," said. "It's definitely different, but at the same time, I think it brings a little more excitement to the season."

Ohtani, 23, will be one of the most intriguing figures to watch this spring as he attempts to become the Majors' first two-way star since Babe Ruth.

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"Honestly since my days in Japan, I never really felt that pressure that everyone's been talking about around me," Ohtani said through his interpreter on Wednesday. "I just feel like I've got to go there, do my job and help the team win. That's my No. 1 goal is to help the team win. If I can help the fans be happy by my trying my hardest, then that's the best possible scenario."

To accommodate the spike in media interest, the Angels held Tuesday's availability with manager Mike Scioscia in the stands down the right-field line, with Scioscia using a microphone to address reporters and answer questions.

"He's going to have a little longer day than most of our pitchers would, but it shouldn't be anything that he hasn't done before," Scioscia said. "He'll be ready to go."

Angels to sort out 6-man rotation in camp

"Today was just the first day," Ohtani said Wednesday. "From here on out, I'm going to communicate with my trainers and try to adjust about practice, what I'm going to be doing -- whether it's hitting or pitching. I think we'll be fine as long as I keep up our communication."

Scioscia said the Angels have a good idea of how to manage Ohtani's workload during Spring Training. General manager Billy Eppler traveled to Japan in January to seek advice from officials from Ohtani's former club, the Nippon-Ham Fighters.

"We absolutely have a schedule of when he's going to throw his bullpens and when he's going to hit, but it has to be flexible," Scioscia said. "It's going to depend on how he feels on a given day. But there's definitely a schedule, and we did lean a lot on the information that Billy got when he visited Japan on what's best for Shohei."

Scioscia said Ohtani will be available to hit in between starts as a part-time designated hitter, though he didn't put an estimate on how many at-bats the Angels are projecting the left-handed slugger to accrue this season. Scioscia also acknowledged that Ohtani will likely make his biggest contribution on the mound.

"He's probably going to influence our team more as a pitcher, but that's not to say he's not going to have a chance to be a difference-maker on the offensive end, too," Scioscia said.

Ohtani rated No. 1 prospect by MLB Pipeline

"I haven't really been doing anything different than when I was in Japan," Ohtani said. "I've been playing golf with my teammates and playing basketball pretty often, so I've been having a pretty good time so far."

The Angels began official workouts Wednesday, but Ohtani has been training in Arizona since the beginning of the month and has already started to get to know his new teammates, many of whom have been impressed with what they've seen so far.

"He's phenomenal," said. "You see him throw a bullpen and how hard he throws, and then to see him effortlessly swing and see the ball jump off his bat is kind of crazy. It's exciting."

Ramirez update

JC Ramirez, who received a stem-cell injection to heal a damaged elbow ligament in August, said he has been pleased with his recovery so far.

"It just feels normal," Ramirez said.

The 29-year-old right-hander is scheduled to throw his 10th bullpen session of the year on Wednesday. He has resumed throwing all of his pitches, including the curveball and slider. Ramirez threw a 50-pitch session last week, with a break at the halfway point to simulate breaks between innings.