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Ohtani struggling with inside pitches at plate

Scioscia says his mechanics, approach are fine, confident he'll adjust
MLB.com @mi_guardado

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Shohei Ohtani went hitless in three plate appearances Wednesday, but he could at least take solace in the fact that he wasn't the only Angels hitter to struggle against reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who allowed only one hit over five innings in the Indians' 7-0 win at Goodyear Ballpark.

Ohtani swung through two cutters from Kluber in his first plate appearance in the third inning, though he reached base after being hit on the right foot on a 2-2 pitch. In the fifth, Ohtani fell behind in the count, 0-2, to Kluber before popping out to second base. His final at-bat of the day came in the eighth against reliever Carlos Torres, who struck him out swinging.

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Shohei Ohtani went hitless in three plate appearances Wednesday, but he could at least take solace in the fact that he wasn't the only Angels hitter to struggle against reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who allowed only one hit over five innings in the Indians' 7-0 win at Goodyear Ballpark.

Ohtani swung through two cutters from Kluber in his first plate appearance in the third inning, though he reached base after being hit on the right foot on a 2-2 pitch. In the fifth, Ohtani fell behind in the count, 0-2, to Kluber before popping out to second base. His final at-bat of the day came in the eighth against reliever Carlos Torres, who struck him out swinging.

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Ohtani, who was not made available to reporters before departing Goodyear Ballpark, is now 2-for-20 (.100) with seven strikeouts and three walks in Cactus League play this spring, though he also went 2-for-8 in an intrasquad scrimmage at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Tuesday.

"It's good for him to get his feet wet," hitting coach Eric Hinske said. "He's up there battling. He's trying to put a good swing on the ball. I'm trying to get him to just shorten it up a bit, shorten his leg kick a little so he can get to stuff inside. Just start looking for stuff, so he can clear his lower half and get to the pitch."

Video: LAA@CLE: Ohtani gets plunked by Kluber in the 3rd

The left-handed-hitting Ohtani batted .286 with an .859 OPS and 48 home runs in 1,170 plate appearances in Japan, but pitchers in Nippon Professional Baseball rarely pitched him inside to avoid putting him at risk for injury. That hasn't been the case so far in the Majors.

"It seems like he's struggling with the inside pitch, feet moving too much," manager Mike Scioscia said. "What are you seeing in the actual mechanics of his at-bats: His swing is good, his approach is good. It's about timing, like a lot of hitters, and he'll find it. Mechanically, he's fine. Eric and [assistant hitting coach] Paulie [Paul Sorrento] are getting a feel for him. We've seen a lot of video. We're seeing it first-hand now. He has a good routine.

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"He's confident he's going to find it, just as we're confident he's going to find it."

Wednesday marked the fourth consecutive day that Ohtani took at-bats in a game setting, but he will not hit again until Sunday at the earliest, as he is scheduled to take the mound for his fourth start of the spring on Friday against the Rockies at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Ohtani has not pitched in a Cactus League game since his spring debut on Feb. 24, with his two most recent outings coming in "B" games against Minor League competition. Ohtani, who has allowed 10 runs over seven innings with 16 strikeouts over his first three pitching appearances, is slated to throw approximately 75 pitches over five innings on Friday.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani