Ohtani gets a hit, Angels beat Dodgers in Freeway exhibition
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Shohei Ohtani brought his hyped bat to the bright lights of Los Angeles, one step closer to the real thing for the Angels’ two-way experiment.
Ohtani was 1 for 4 in his first at-bats at Dodger Stadium during the Angels’ 4-1 exhibition win Monday night. He singled in the third inning and also struck out once. He even heard some scattered boos in his first plate appearance.
“I’m very excited about playing here. A lot of history, a lot of tradition,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “I always wanted to play here one day. I really had a good time.”
As did teammate Albert Pujols, who hit a three-run double to lead the way for the Angels. Pujols cleared the bases against Rich Hill during a four-run third inning. Andrelton Simmons hit a run-scoring single to give the Angels the 4-0 lead.
Angels starter Matt Shoemaker allowed two hits over four scoreless innings in his final tuneup. Shoemaker struck out five and walked one.
“I thought it went pretty well,” Shoemaker said. “Executed all the pitches we wanted to. Went through all of them.”
Hill allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings. He’s set to be the Dodgers’ No. 4 starter in the rotation.
Ohtani, in the lineup as the designated hitter, changed his stance a little Monday to try to find a rhythm at the plate. He is expected to get one or two more at-bats Tuesday, the final exhibition game of the Freeway Series before the Angels open the season Thursday in Oakland.
“Even in my days in Japan, I would try to make small adjustments throughout the season, and that’s what I’m trying to do right now,” Ohtani said. “I’m trying to figure out the best way to find my timing.”
Ohtani raised his average to .125 this spring with that single, a hit that might provide some confidence moving forward. It’s unclear where the Japanese star will land in the pitching rotation.
“I think he’s working on just getting that timing,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I think we saw more of those pitches he was on, which is a great sign.”
Ohtani, who wears No. 17, is adjusting to many things. He’s followed by a big contingent of Japanese reporters and under a microscope for baseball fans everywhere who are intrigued by a player who will pitch and bat.
“He’s a young player, and he’s got a lot to learn about himself, major league baseball,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s a big transition for him. Obviously, the talent is there. He took a good swing tonight against Rich, a fastball away out over and then ran into some good pitching as well. Very talented young player.”
ROTATIONS SHAPING UP
The Dodgers will start Clayton Kershaw on opening day against San Francisco, followed by Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Angels will start Garrett Richards against Oakland, followed by Tyler Skaggs. Scioscia hasn’t set the rest of the rotation, but Ohtani and Shoemaker are likely candidates for the next two spots.
TOLES STILL IN THE MIX
Outfielder Andrew Toles — who missed most of last season after tearing his ACL — hit a solo home run to right field off Blake Parker in the ninth. He’s still vying for a spot on the opening day roster.
“He’s exciting. He does a lot of things well,” Roberts said. “He’s high energy. Guys like Andrew, Trayce (Thompson) makes our decision a lot tougher, and you’re talking about Matt (Kemp) and Joc (Pederson) as well. And (Toles) has had a great spring, he really has. It’s making it tough on us.”
Angels: RHP JC Ramirez is scheduled to start the final game of the Freeway Series and last game before the team opens the season at Oakland on Thursday.
Dodgers: Ryu will make the team’s final start before the Dodgers host opening day against San Francisco on Thursday.
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