Ohtani clocks 97 mph in live BP session

February 24th, 2021

Angels two-way star eased any concerns about his velocity on Wednesday, as the right-hander said he reached as high as 97 mph on the radar gun when throwing a live batting practice session to infielders Luis Rengifo and Jared Walsh.

It was a step up for Ohtani, who revealed that he topped out at 90 mph in his first bullpen session of the spring on Thursday. It was more in line with manager Joe Maddon’s assertion that Ohtani had been throwing in the mid-90s during his offseason pitching sessions. Ohtani, the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year, came away pleased with his results on Wednesday, especially considering that of his 80 pitches thrown in 2020, only one reached 97 mph, per Statcast.

"I was mostly in the zone with my fastball," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "There's a little brushing up. I need to be more precise, but with this being my first session, I was pretty happy with it."

Ohtani, 26, is fully healthy and is returning to two-way status this year, serving as both a starting pitcher as part of a six-man rotation and as a designated hitter. He was with the position players on Tuesday, facing right-handers Aaron Slegers, Kyle Keller, Ben Rowen and Brendan McCurry in live BP.

Ohtani said his arm feels much better than last year, as he’s another year removed from his Tommy John surgery of 2018. He’s working on getting better action on his splitter but noted he went through a similar process during Spring Training in 2018. Ohtani thinks it could be because of the dry climate in Arizona. But Wednesday was another step in the right direction for Ohtani, who was limited to only two starts on the mound in 2020 because of a forearm/elbow strain.

“There are few things different with the mechanics,” Ohtani said. “But I think the biggest thing is my elbow feels much better compared to last year.”