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Ohtani may DH more than originally expected

Scioscia won't rule out phenom hitting on days before and after pitching
Special to MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Angels will be "flexible" regarding Shohei Ohtani's usage when the regular season begins, manager Mike Scioscia said Thursday, leaving open the possibility that Ohtani could DH on days before and after he starts on the mound.

Ohtani did not bat on Thursday in the Angels' 11-4 win over the Giants, the day before his next scheduled spring start, and the Angels will adhere to that plan this spring, Scioscia said.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Angels will be "flexible" regarding Shohei Ohtani's usage when the regular season begins, manager Mike Scioscia said Thursday, leaving open the possibility that Ohtani could DH on days before and after he starts on the mound.

Ohtani did not bat on Thursday in the Angels' 11-4 win over the Giants, the day before his next scheduled spring start, and the Angels will adhere to that plan this spring, Scioscia said.

When the games count, however, it appears that all bets are off.

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"When the season opens up, we'll obviously look very closely at it," Scioscia said. "There is a lot of effort a pitcher has to put into pitching, and obviously it might erode some of the opportunities he has to hit. But we're going to be flexible with everything we do. If it comes down to where he is pitching in a day and he is not going to hit the day before, so be it. If a day after, he is not available or available to pinch-hit, so be it.

"But I think we need to be flexible as we go through this to work this out."

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Ohtani will make his second spring start Friday in a "B" game against Milwaukee in Maryvale. He is scheduled to work three innings and throw 40-45 pitches. Rene Rivera will catch.

"Right now, we are working into some things," Scioscia said. "When the season starts, we'll see."

Albert Pujols' ability to play first base occasionally would also play into the time Ohtani could spend as a DH.

Video: Will Ohtani continue to play a lot of DH?

Pujols played six games at first base last year and 28 there in 2016 while dealing with foot issues. Scioscia said Pujols has looked good in the field this spring.

"He can play first base enough for us to have some flexibility in our lineups and give us more options on any day," Scioscia said.

In games Ohtani is used as DH, he will not be used as a relief pitcher, Scioscia said, as that would cause the Angels to lose the DH slot for the rest of the game.

"That will not happen," Scioscia said.

Video: CLE@LAA: Cozart catches sharp liner off Hanigan's bat

Cozart begins transition
All-Star shortstop Zack Cozart took preparation for his transition to third base with the "hot" in hot corner in mind.

"I had my buddy hitting me hard fungo, like from 20 feet away, hitting rockets at me, just so I could see the speed of the ball and try to pick it," Cozart said of his winter work.

"At shortstop, you can kind of read and make your move. Third base is just like, bam, reaction. There is not a lot of thinking over there."

Cozart, who speared a line drive in his first spring game at third on Wednesday against the Indians, is starting with the basics.

"I'm just trying to get the positioning part of it down," he said, "where to play if a guy is going to bunt, double-play depth, stuff like that. That is my main focus right now.

"It's going to take some time. The way the ball comes off the bat is different, the top-spin. If you catch the ball, you have plenty of time to make the throws. At shortstop, you have to catch it and throw it and be accurate. You don't have a lot of time. At third, you catch it and the guy is barely out of the box. You have a lot of time to set your feet."

Cozart, who has played all of his 721 regular-season games at shortstop, set career highs with 24 homers, 62 walks and a .933 OPS last season. He tied a career high with 63 RBIs.

"Zack looks very comfortable in drills," Scioscia said. "As he gets into games, seeing balls off the bat, you'll get a better feel for where he is. We don't expect a huge adjustment [period] for him."

Injury update
Outfielder Chris Young (calf) continues his rehab program as he prepares for his first season with the Angels after signing a one-year deal that reunited him with former Arizona teammate and good friend Justin Upton.

"Getting the calf back right and looking forward to being able to get on the field with the guys, because that's where you create the bonds and the friendships," Young said. "Had a little hiccup in my process."

Young, who signed as the fourth outfielder, behind Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun and Upton, plans to be back on the field next week.

"I understood the role that came along with me playing here, fourth-outfielder role in an amazing outfield," Young said.

"I just want to complement that, which is something I've been able to do for the past four or five years. I've been able to mentally make that adjustment."

Of being reunited with Upton, Young said, "It's great to see it come full circle and be teammates again. There is nothing like being in the clubhouse with somebody that you are probably more comfortable with than you are with anybody in the game, because we came up together. It should be fun."

Jack Magruder is a contributor to MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels, Zack Cozart, Shohei Ohtani