OAKLAND -- With his first official swing in the Majors, Shohei Ohtani got to work quelling the doubts of those who questioned whether he was ready to contribute to the Angels following a rocky Spring Training.Ohtani collected his first big league hit in the second inning of the Angels' 6-5,
OAKLAND -- With his first official swing in the Majors, Shohei Ohtani got to work quelling the doubts of those who questioned whether he was ready to contribute to the Angels following a rocky Spring Training.
Ohtani collected his first big league hit in the second inning of the Angels' 6-5, 11-inning loss to the A's on Opening Day on Thursday at the Coliseum, singling on the first pitch he saw from A's starter Kendall Graveman.
With the Halos leading, 1-0, with two outs in the second, Ohtani, batting eighth and serving as the designated hitter in his Major League debut, bounced one through the right side of the infield for his first career hit.
"That's probably an at-bat I'm not going to forget for the rest of my life," Ohtani said via interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.
Ohtani joins Hideki Matsui, Kazuo Matsui, Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Kosuke Fukudome as Japanese-born players with a hit in their first MLB at-bat. The 23-year-old two-way phenom said he plans to give the ball to his parents, Kayoko and Toru, who were in attendance for his highly anticipated Angels debut.
Ohtani finished 1-for-5 on Thursday, with three groundouts and a strikeout in the rest of his at-bats against the A's. Manager Mike Scioscia said the Halos haven't decided if Ohtani will return to the lineup on Friday.
"I thought Shohei was fine," Scioscia said. "Getting in the batter's box, I thought he had some good swings. Got the base hit, hit a couple balls hard to second, so just out of the chute, it's good for him to get out there. I know he'll continue to improve."
Ohtani went 4-for-32 (.125) with three walks and 10 strikeouts as a left-handed hitter in Cactus League play, and he didn't fare much better on the mound, allowing 17 earned runs on 20 hits over 13 innings in five spring outings, including a pair of "B" games and a start in an intrasquad scrimmage.
While his less-than-stellar results prompted some to wonder if Ohtani would be better served by opening the season in the Minors, the Angels decided to officially add him to their Opening Day roster on Tuesday.
General manager Billy Eppler said before Thursday's game that the Halos weren't set on having Ohtani open the season in the Majors at the beginning of Spring Training, but they saw enough "process-based evidence" to give them confidence that he could handle the challenge without an initial stint in the Minors.
"The historical evaluations, plus the track record in a league which we deem as close to the Major Leagues as you can get, point us in the direction of saying, 'Give this guy the opportunity to let his ability and let his tools show,'" Eppler said. "So that's what we're going to do."
Ohtani is scheduled to make his pitching debut on Sunday in the Angels' series finale against the A's. He will be pitching on six days' rest, mimicking the once-a-week schedule he had in Japan.
"With all of our players, we just try to make them as comfortable as possible, so we look into historical workloads with everybody and try to allow that to happen if possible," Eppler said. "With our other starters that are in our rotation, or guys that are candidates to join our rotation at some point in time, biomechanically and from a workload management standpoint, the less load and volume, it stands to reason the greater the opportunity for recovery is."
Ohtani said he didn't experience many nerves while making his hitting debut on Thursday. Will he be nervous come Sunday?
"Probably," Ohtani said, smiling.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.