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Scioscia sees Ohtani's basepath threat potential

Angels manager praises two-way phenom's speed; Fletcher making good impression early
MLB.com @mi_guardado

ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani is best known for his power arm and his power bat, but those skills often overshadow another one of his elite tools: his speed.

Manager Mike Scioscia said Ohtani is the Angels' second-fastest player behind Mike Trout, and he made an impact on the basepaths in Friday's 3-2 walk-off win over the Dodgers. After drawing a two-out walk off Kenley Jansen, Ohtani stole second, advanced to third on Yasmani Grandal's throwing error and scored the tying run on David Fletcher's RBI single. The Angels completed their rally after Ian Kinsler blooped a single to right field and Yasiel Puig made an errant throw to the plate, allowing Fletcher to score the decisive run.

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ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani is best known for his power arm and his power bat, but those skills often overshadow another one of his elite tools: his speed.

Manager Mike Scioscia said Ohtani is the Angels' second-fastest player behind Mike Trout, and he made an impact on the basepaths in Friday's 3-2 walk-off win over the Dodgers. After drawing a two-out walk off Kenley Jansen, Ohtani stole second, advanced to third on Yasmani Grandal's throwing error and scored the tying run on David Fletcher's RBI single. The Angels completed their rally after Ian Kinsler blooped a single to right field and Yasiel Puig made an errant throw to the plate, allowing Fletcher to score the decisive run.

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Ohtani stole only 13 bases over his five seasons with the Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan, and Friday's steal was just his second for the Angels. Despite his above-average speed, Ohtani said he doesn't necessarily view himself as a consistent base-stealing threat.

"I think I still lack the skill part of stealing a base, so I only try to go when it's as close to 100 percent as possible and I think I'm going to be safe," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.

Scioscia, however, disagreed with Ohtani's self-assessment.

"I think anytime that we've given him opportunities to run, he's gotten good jumps," Scioscia said Saturday. "His speed is there. I haven't noticed any of those flaws that he might perceive. He got a great jump last night."

Video: LAA@TOR: Ohtani steals his first base in the 9th

Asked if he believes Ohtani has the potential to steal 15-20 bases in a season, Scioscia said, "I think he does. I think it's going to be totally contingent on how many at-bats he gets in a season. When he's pitching and he's hitting, you're talking in the 275-300 at-bat range, somewhere around there, so that's basically a little more than half of the opportunities other guys might get.

"So it's going to be contingent on that. But I do think that he definitely has the technique and the speed to steal a base when it's important. It's not always how many you're stealing, but if you're stealing them at the right time, it can influence the game like it did last night."

Ohtani is currently limited to hitting as he recovers from a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, but Scioscia said the Angels aren't concerned about him potentially injuring himself while running the bases because he slides feet-first. Ohtani is scheduled to be re-evaluated in the third week of July to see if he'll be able to return as a pitcher this season.

Fletcher impressing
Fletcher was not in the Angels' lineup on Saturday after scoring the game-winning run on Friday, but Scioscia said the rookie infielder has been earning more opportunities after batting .294 over his first 19 games in the Majors.

Video: LAD@LAA: Fletcher scores game-winning run on error

"I think that anytime a player plays well, obviously they're going to win more at-bats, win more playing time," Scioscia said. "He's definitely doing that. David's going to get an opportunity to play when we feel that there's at-bats for him and he's done well. We're using him in a multitude of roles, and I'm sure that his playing time will increase as we move on and he continues to string together good at-bats."

Luis Valbuena started over Fletcher at third base on Saturday, but the right-handed-hitting Fletcher is likely to return to the lineup on Sunday to face Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood.

Injury updates

• Right-hander Matt Shoemaker (forearm strain) is slated to begin a throwing progression next week. Shoemaker made only one start for the Angels this season before landing on the disabled list on April 3. He underwent surgery to decompress a nerve and repair the pronator teres tendon in his right forearm on May 29, but he could return to pitch in August if the rest of his rehab goes smoothly.

• Left-hander Tyler Skaggs (adductor strain) played catch for the second consecutive day and is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Sunday. Skaggs said earlier this week that he's hoping to return from the disabled list during the Angels' upcoming series against the Mariners.

• Right-hander Jim Johnson (lumbar strain) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Inland Empire on Sunday.

• Right-hander Alex Meyer (shoulder surgery) has shifted his rehab to the Angels' complex in Arizona. The Angels do not expect Meyer to pitch in the Majors this season.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani